I posted the title of this message on my Facebook page, and it was met with some head scratching. It’s so fitting today though.
Let me explain a bit.
You remember Jacob and Esau? In Hebrew, the name Jacob is יעקב – pronounced “YA-kov”, and it means “deceiver.” The name fit him to a tee — he was a deceiver.
Jacob was a man who was a controller. He connived and manipulated his way to get what he wanted. It was a generational curse that was passed to him by his mother Rebecca – who encouraged the behavior. It resulted in Jacob, pushed by Rebecca to play a trick on his father, Isaac, by pretending to be Esau. This trick led Isaac to give the family blessing to Jacob, which meant Jacob would eventually inherit the land God had promised to Abraham’s decedents.
Jacob also learned control from his uncle Laban who caused Jacob to work for fourteen years to take Rachel as his lifelong mate.
You have to ask yourself, which was more ugly in God’s sight, the self-centered nature and worldliness of Esau, or the control and manipulation of Jacob?
Control is a problem for both men and women.
Many women use sex to control their husbands. Many men use power and force to control their wives. Control is at the core of that which is opposite of denying ones self for the good of the other.
What delivers us from this fleshly nature of control? A crisis.
Jacob’s crisis came when he was faced with the prospect of meeting his brother Esau, who said he would kill him the next time he saw him. Esau had built his own clan and was about to meet Jacob and his clan in the middle of the desert. Jacob was fearful, so he retreated. There he met a messenger from God who wrestled with him. Jacob clung to God and refused to let go of this angel.
It is the place where Jacob was given a painful but necessary spiritual heart transplant. From that point on, Jacob would walk with a limp, because God had to dislocate his hip in order to overcome Jacob’s strong will.
Many Christian leaders today hold sway over their congregations. I’m not talking about all pastors, but just the ones who are either lukewarm and tolerate anything – “anything goes,” or they’re so authoritarian, that their pride gets in the way – it’s their way or the highway.
The first group, the lukewarm group preach a “feel good” message, and not the gospel – salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They’re more concerned with the number of “butts in seats” than the quality of the message.
They want warm bodies in the sanctuary, so they put on the rock concert praise and worship, to appeal to the young and hip. Their message is designed to make them feel good about themselves when they leave – not to question the lives they’re leading and the sin from which they need to repent.
They may also be so concerned with political correctness, so as not to ruffle feathers, that they tone down the message so as to not to offend. I understand being sensitive to the people, but there are things that are being tolerated by the church, that should be preached against.
Lakewood Church is much like this. I’m sure that you know of others as well. Thousands of people, and the elders don’t know of the personal lives of their flock – they can’t, there’s just too many people.
I know a pastor who led a church in our area who may have had at most 10-15 consistent people. He preached a quality message, he didn’t tolerate – and preached against what was sinful in this nation, he put up with nothing in the the church that could put a crack in the armor and let Satan inside, and he was all about salvation. Many people in this area wouldn’t put up with this, but he preached truth. Folks just didn’t want to hear it. Could God have grown his church – absolutely, but God chose him to preach to this core group of dedicated believers – and dedicated they were.
He wasn’t authoritarian, he was a shepherd protecting his flock.
The authoritarian leaders are concerned with power and money, they want more of both.
As for finances, they’ll do or say anything to get people to give – even under compulsion. There’s a church I know of who demands, as part of “membership,” that they report their monthly income – including a copy of the pay stub, and remit to the church, ten percent of the gross. To not comply could result in a loss of membership. This isn’t biblical. 2 Corinthians 9:7 makes it clear: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I’d be hard pressed to be cheerful if I had to complete a “tithe return” each month.
A pastor is the head of the church, and must do all he can to keep the enemy out of the church he pastors. This means that sometimes, he and the elders must mete out some church discipline. This could be anything from a written or oral sanction, to being put out of the church – this doesn’t make a leader authoritarian – it makes him a responsible leader.
If the leader is deceiving his flock – saying one thing, and doing another – and insisting that he’s right all of the time, then it’s time to wonder if he’s got “that limp”. If the leader is prideful and insisting that his way is the right way, and not praying for guidance from God, and possibly getting that guidance from elders, then it’s time to wonder if he’s got “that limp”.
And it’s not just church leaders either – any leader who calls themselves a Christian, has to be held to this standard.
There are governmental leaders who claim Christian belief, but have no problem with the legalized murder of the unborn, or the legalized “marriage” of two people in a homosexual relationship, or deceiving their constituents by taking kickbacks or bribes in exchange for favorable treatment.
We have a man who is expected to be inaugurated as president of the United States on January 20th – this coming Wednesday. Joe Biden claims that he’s a good catholic. Nancy Pelosi claims that she’s a good catholic. Both profess the Christian faith, however, both will not stop the murder of the unborn in this nation.
Both are plotting to take this nation to the pit of darkness. Biden even used the term “days of darkness”. It led me to the second chapter of the Psalms, verses 1-6:
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
The leaders of the world – the globalists, of which Biden and Pelosi are a part – are all plotting to divide the people, pitting people against one another. Heck, they’ve already done it.
They’ve thrown God out of the town square – Hawaii was the first state in the nation to stop opening their state senate sessions with prayer… why? Because the name Jesus Christ was being mentioned!
God laughs – He knows, as any true believer knows – that God will have His way, and that Jesus will rule and reign over the earth… and there’s nothing that anyone, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi or anyone else can do about it.
Several weeks ago, I broke down what it was to submit to governmental leader, quoting Romans 13, 1 Timothy 2 and Acts 5:29.
Let me clarify.
We are to always pray for those in authority – we pray for godly wisdom, we pray for their salvation. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Romans 13 says that we are to submit to authorities, as they were put there by God. To resist them, is to resist God.
This means that we are not to cause riots and insurrection against our government or its leaders. If we are true, bible believing, born again Christians – we don’t do this. We do nothing that will harm another person.
The exception to all of this is – when a leader requires us to do something that would violate our faith and God’s law, then we follow God’s law over man’s law that would violate God’s law. An example of this is given in Acts 4-5, where Peter and John were being tried for preaching in the name of Jesus of Nazareth and His resurrection.
After boldly declaring Jesus as Messiah and resurrected from the dead – both were arrested by the Saducees. Many came to hear Peter and John that day after hearing of the miracle performed on the lame beggar (Acts 3). The next day, at their trial, they were warned not to teach in the name of Jesus again.
In chapter 5, we find them again, preaching in the name of Jesus – and they were rearrested. When brought for trial, they were asked, in verse 28, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” To which Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (verses 29-32).
Whenever faced with being required to follow man’s law which conflicts with God’s law, you must follow God’s law always – whatever the personal cost. If you’re told to worship a different god, you are duty bound to refuse, even if it means your death.
This doesn’t mean that we try to overthrow the government when we see that it’s acting in a sinful way. We let God deal with that – and we pray. Nations around the world are steeped in sin, and their laws allow for it. God will eventually bring those nations down – it’s not for us to do, that’s God’s domain.
Paul writes in Romans 12:19: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Paul was quoting from the Torah in Deuteronomy 32:35.
As Christians, we never take the law into our own hands. What happened at our Capitol in Washington last week was abhorrent. Whoever it was – Antifa, BLM, Conservative – whoever, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If this nation is to be judged and taken down, it’s God’s job to do that.
This nation is doing a fine job of bringing itself down. The first chapter of Romans shows just what God does, to turn His back on a nation – or a person. God’s patient, but He ratchets up the pressure until its so great, that they just give up… or look up.
We’re there now – we either give up, or look up. We, as a nation, either change our laws, judicial rulings and customs to please the one, true God – or He allows us to wallow in our own sinful stink – and lets us fall. That’s where we are now.
It’s judgment time.
Where are you? Where do you stand?
What is your eternal future?
If you have to ask or you’re unsure – you need to ask Jesus into your life as your savior. You need to repent of your sin – and turn away from it.
You need to do it now – for tomorrow’s not assured.