19 June, 2014


I've been a pastor for quite a long time now, having pastored my first church in 1986 on an interim basis and becoming a full-time pastor in 1991. In those years, I've seen some changes take place in the church; some of them good... some of them bad. Some really, really bad. One of those really bad changes has been on my mind the past few days, even more than usual. I have to confess that as a pastor, I've never felt as much as a failure as I have over the last few years. Let me be clear, the cause of those feelings has very little, if anything to do with the size of the church where I pastor. In fact, I see the exact same trends in the mega churches as I do in the church of 50. The problem that makes me beat my head against the wall and spend hours in praying asking God for the answer is this... the Body of Christ is by and large committing adultery. No, I don't mean that everyone is physically having extramarital affairs. I'm talking about a spiritual adultery. The level of unfaithfulness in the Body of Christ is staggering. What's even worse is that it is just accepted (for the most part) as the way it is going to be. People just are not committed to the church and worshipping God the way they used to be. This non-committed mindset is justified within people's minds by proclaiming freedom and grace and saying that God understands their hearts. People tell me, "I worship God in my own way at home. I don't have to be in church to worship God."  Let me be clear... I believe you can and should worship God away from the church. In fact you MUST worship God away from the church. Worship is not an act we do on Sunday... it is a daily lifestyle. But let me also be clear... lifting hands and singing praises to God and saying you love him means absolutely nothing when your life is another testimony all together.  You cannot say you love God and are serving God when your life violates the commandments of God at every turn. That's committing spiritual adultery.

What is spiritual adultery? It's really quite simple. Spiritual adultery is unfaithfulness to God. It is having an undue fondness for the things of the world. Spiritually adultery is akin to the unfaithfulness of one’s spouse. God gave us a clear picture of this in Jeremiah 3:20: "But like a woman faithless to her lover, even so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD.”  The Bible tells us that people who choose to be friends with the world are an “adulterous people” having “enmity against God” (James 4:4-5). The “world” here is the system of evil under Satan’s control. The world system, with its contrived and deceitful scheme of phony values, worthless pursuits, and unnatural affections, is designed to lure us away from a pure relationship with God. Spiritual adultery, then, is the forsaking of God’s love and the embracing of the world’s values and desires. Spiritual adultery, quite simply is claiming to love God while cultivating friendship with the world and the world's way of doing life.  The person who commits spiritual adultery is one who professes to be a Christian yet finds his real love and pleasure in the things that Satan offers. For believers, the love of the world and the love of God are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Believers committing spiritual adultery may claim to love the Lord, but, in reality, they are addicted to the pleasures of this world, its influence, comforts, and so-called freedoms.

People want to wave the banner of grace, but I proclaim loudly, YOU ARE DECEIVED!  Jesus was absolutely clear about this when he said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  The Bible exhorts us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1John 2:15-16)
You simply cannot walk the fence. There must be a clear decision to leave the world's way and put your faith and loyalty in Christ. I'm reminded of a line in an old chorus that we used to sing: “The world behind me, the cross before me; no turning back.”

The image is clear. It is that of a couple that has married and made a commitment to each other, yet one of them still has their eyes on another and continues to break their marriage vow to return to the arms of a former lover. If this happened in the natural, the marriage would be destroyed and the faithful partner would most likely seek a divorce. Yet somehow, the church has decided that God in His grace simply does not care if we are unfaithful. Let me tell you... He cares! His Word tells us that He is a jealous God. His Word calls for an absolute, resolute decision to join Him or walk away from Him. Jesus termed it in such a way as to say that He would rather us be hot or cold and that the lukewarm he would spew out of his mouth. In other words... uncommitted, faithless Christians make him sick!
The love of the world is primarily an attitude of the heart and can be overcome. We can cast away worldliness by cultivating a new affection. To avoid spiritual adultery, “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) A song I learned as a child put it this way:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth 
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

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