“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, you appear to be righteous on the outside, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Christians bemoan the state of the world– moral decline, and the spiral into lawlessness, the spiritual thirst that the church does nothing to help quench. The impotence of the church is a direct result of the culture of materialism and pride, of moral relativism rooted in the desire to be culturally relevant, and avoid persecution, of complacent Christians who don’t hold themselves and their leaders accountable to the Biblical standard. The reason that this happens is because the average churchgoer has no real grasp of the Word themselves, but in their apathy, rely on a “spiritual leader” who may or may not even be saved themselves.
The widespread corruption of TV preachers and their organizations is an unfortunate fact which draws derision from the world, and disgust from those with a truly regenerated heart, but what is rarely addressed is church leadership and “ministries” full of organized crime rings, drugs, pornography, pedophilia, immorality, and a complete lack of financial integrity. Church is a business–“rock stars” leading worship, pastors and evangelists who are CEOs–not pastors or evangelists, and a consumer culture that wants youth group parties every Sunday, and social events for business networking. Eventually, everything unravels, but the church as a whole holds no one accountable, as they don’t want to be accountable for their own iniquities. Sadly, many “faith-based” businesses rob employees and customers, produce faulty products and services, and are a terrible witness for the Gospel they claim to proclaim.
The apostle Peter spoke of these people, “Now there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies that even deny the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow in their depravity, and because of them the way of the truth will be defamed. In their greed, these false teachers will exploit you with tales they have concocted. The longstanding verdict against them remains in force, and their destruction does not sleep.…These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:1-3, 7-18.)
It is not a sin to hold church and ministry leadership, or faith-based business owners, accountable to Biblical standards–there is a difference between legalistic judgement, and Biblical accountability. It isn’t wrong for true men and women of God to draw a living from work in the ministry–but what is their fruit? Is the church in perpetual financial strain while ten “pastors” are living high? Is the church, ministry, or faith-based business in disarray, and dependent upon marginally legal and ethical practices for survival? These things are not of God, and God will not excuse the leaders or those who willingly support their practices.
“What then shall we say? Shall we continue in sin so that grace may increase? By no means! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2)
“But you are doing wrong and you are cheating even your brothers.
Or do you not know that evil men do not inherit The Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; no fornicators, neither worshipers of idols, neither adulterers, neither sexual molesters, neither males lying down with males, neither frauds, nor thieves, neither drunkards, nor the insolent, neither extortioners; these do not inherit The Kingdom of God.” ( 1 Corinthians 6:8-10)
I say none of this as a Christian-basher. I am a Christian. I grew up a pastor’s daughter, and I have spent the past five years of my journey working in churches, “Christian” non-profits, and “faith-based” businesses. I have seen the breadth and depth of corruption, the destruction that it wreaks on complacent and undiscerning souls, how it undermines the ministry of those who are truly called, and how it gives a measure of validity to secular criticism of Christianity. Failure to confront and call out evil is, at a minimum, passive participation.
“Have nothing to do with the useless works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are”. (Ephesians 5:11)