Loyalty or Idolatry?
Who are you trusting in? Are you trusting in the voice of the Lord in your spirit, or are you trusting in your pastor or other leaders? Do you listen to the still, small voice of God trying to direct you in your spirit, or do you listen to the voice of your pastor? If you think you are being led by the Spirit, yet rely on your leaders to “feed” you, you might be caught up in spiritual idolatry without knowing it.
The Church should be led by Jesus through the voice of the Holy Spirit, yet most Christians don’t know how to hear God’s voice in the first place, let alone be led by Him. The Church has been trained to listen solely to their church leaders, believing that they need to go to a service to be fed the Word. We have been conditioned to believe that the leadership has the education, the spiritual make-up, and thus the qualifications to hear from God for us, so most Christians are unwilling to make the effort to hear from God for themselves.
We think that these leaders are responsible for our souls, so human nature takes over and laziness sets in. To be very blunt, we have turned church leadership into idols, trusting in them more than we trust in God, expecting them to hear from God and give us what we need for our spiritual uplifting at least once a week. It is so very easy to be deceived into believing that we are spiritually healthy and correct, when all the time we are spiritual cripples in the eyes of the Lord.
Photo is mine.
Trusting in Man
I have heard for years the exhortations to have a relationship with God, that Christianity is relationship, not religion. Yet our practices often completely betray this truth with our misplaced trust in man. Isaiah 28 depicts the state of God’s people being ruled by power-hungry leaders that dribbled the Word out to the people “here a little, there a little”, creating believers that were broken, snared and taken into the captivity of the controlling leadership of the day:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: Isaiah 28:9-10 KJVThis verse takes a little explaining- there is a footnote in the King James on the words “must be” in verse 10. The alternate reading there is “hath been”, implying that “here a little, and there a little” is how the leaders had been operating, setting themselves up as the voice of God to the people and offering only the smallest bits of truth. And Isaiah clearly states in verse 7 that those leaders were erring:
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.These leaders depict a situation in our day that is all to common. I originally made the connection to abusive churches and leadership that control their members through intimidation by proclaiming themselves to be the voice of God and demanding submission to their leadership.
But now I can see how this can also be applied to any typical church with the one-man-rule setup that is found everywhere. Dependence on leadership to hear from God creates people who essentially worship man rather than God, expecting the Word of the Lord from the mouth of the pastor rather than expecting to hear the Word from God directly for themselves. God calls it harlotry:
My people [habitually] ask counsel of their [senseless] wood [idols], and their staff [of wood] gives them oracles and instructs them. For the spirit of harlotry has led them astray and they have played the harlot, withdrawing themselves from subjection to their God. Hos. 4:12 AMP
Harlotry will sap you of any spiritual knowledge, and lack of knowledge will leave you captive: Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding. Hosea 4:11 AMP
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Isaiah 5:13 KJVAnd all the time, the Spirit of God is speaking, calling to His people:
You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love? James 4:4-5 AMP
Jesus Is the Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit Is His Voice
Going back to Isaiah 28, you can see in verse 11 how God wants to speak to us:
For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.I am sure this verse has been interpreted in many ways, but I tend to believe that Isaiah was looking forward to the day that the Holy Spirit would be poured out as depicted in the book of Acts. It is the Holy Spirit that is the teacher of the Church, yet we have considered the office of pastor as the teacher of the Church instead, putting gravely misplaced responsibility on this one part of the body.
Indeed, we have exalted the office of pastor to idol status, expecting God to speak to us through a man. Back in Exodus, the people of God wanted no part of a direct relationship with God, preferring to hear His voice through Moses. (Exodus 20:19), and really, things are no different today.
We must learn to hear from God for ourselves, breaking our dependence on a centuries-old system of leadership that has left the Church crippled, blind and deaf. Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us individually, and ultimately corporately, will bring the Church into the position we need to be in these last days with Jesus as the true Head of the Church.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jer. 31:3 KJV
Scripture Promises- Fear Not
Scripture Promises- God Is Faithful
Scripture Promises- Healing, Provision, Salvation
Trusting God and His Word
Quill pen is free image from Wikimedia Commons.