Cleansed by the Blood, but sanctified by Conduct
There are two factors to a sermon. First, there is the grace of Jesus Christ’s blood. The congregation listen to the sermon and repent. Once they come under the grace of His blood, their spirits are cleansed. The second factor is instruction for believers’ conduct. God gives His word to spirits cleansed by the blood. Saints are instructed regarding their conduct, and then they should sanctify their spirits by their decision and action. Those who hear the sermon should respond to God’s word and repent. Then they should follow God’s instruction by deciding to act on it.
Idolatry prevents this from happening. People think idols refer to images made of stone or wood. These are not the only idols. If the love and devotion meant for God is directed somewhere else, it is idolatry. Such idolatrous practice betrays God and seriously pollutes saints’ spirits.
If someone places an idol in their hearts, God will not take that idol away. Rather, He will work a deception on that person so he will never depart from that evil. If a person sets an idol in his heart to make him stumble, and later goes to inquire of a prophet, God will work a deception on the prophet to give the answer the inquirer wants. Both the prophet and inquirer will take responsibility for their evil (Ezekiel 14:3-11).
We should not get involved with matters that corrupt our spirits. As believers, we are spiritually responsible for blessing our children. Though the Patriarchs of Israel were old, they blessed their children with authority given by God. This is because God’s blessing are passed down to children through the spirit, not through the flesh. In order not to limit God’s power being handed down to our children, we must cleanse our spirits by repentance, and be approved by God through holy conduct.
We should be particularly careful not to irresponsibly criticize or slander the church. If we start doing it, though you do not desire it, a shadow will cover your heart. This is the best condition for demons to come and invade. On the other hand, if we choose words and thoughts filled with faith and hope, we can accomplish works pleasing to God more easily.
For a church to be built and grow, people must endure hardships to keep their spirits clean. Also, people must sacrifice and devote themselves to keep other people’s spirits clean. This is by no means easy. But many people did this to serve the church, and still do this. There should be no irresponsible criticisms or slander to hurt those who otherwise only sought God until now.
Even unbelievers treat the church with certain respect. Even criminals who oppress others have different attitudes when meeting with pastors. Even thieves regard stealing church offerings as taboo. Unfortunately, slander against the church is now occurring amongst believers, and people try to encourage distrust against the overseer. These actions not only destroy their spirits but leave irremovable scars on other people’s spirits.
Once a person’s faith has been hurt like this, it is hard for him to receive God’s word. When some people hear negative news about the church, they think they should carefully investigate and judge for themselves if it is true. They know this will influence them negatively, but continue any way. This is no different from seeking idols. And carefully investigating matters so you can dispute them is not helpful either. Foolish arguments and quarrels are unprofitable and useless (Titus 3:9).
Until the Lord leads us to His Kingdom, we must not defile our spirits. Those who sanctify their spirits fulfill God’s will effectively. God remembers them and will remember their descendants. Those who are holy prepare themselves for heaven, and pass down blessings to their descendants at the same time.
The overseer of the church is the speaker proclaiming God’s word. Though the overseer is just a man with flesh, God gave him authority to bless the church. When God appointed Aaron as the priest of Israel, He made him wear an attractive garment, made specially for the priest. This was to show people how glorious and wonderful the priestly office was. The purpose was so all would acknowledge his authority (Exodus 28:2). In the same way, God clothes an ordinary person with the office of overseer and proceeds to do His work. Saints should humbly be guided by the overseer. Sheep avoid the voice of strangers but listen to the voice of the shepherd. In the same way, saints should pay attention to the voice of the overseer.