SHORT CHRISTIAN READINGS SELECTED FOR FORMER JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Find Fellowship with Other Followers of Jesus
By David A. Reed
If you wish to follow Jesus, it is important to find other followers of Jesus to meet with. Jesus said that he would be personally present in gatherings of his followers, even though we cannot see him: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst." -- Matthew 18:20.
Christians gather together for Bible study, to share testimonies, to hear Bible-based sermons, to celebrate Communion, to support and send out missionary preachers, to help and pray for one another, and to sing songs of praise to God. The New Testament records how the Apostles and early disciples set the pattern by continuing to meet together after Jesus ascended to heaven, and how new congregations of believers sprang up in one city after another as the message about Christ spread across the ancient Roman Empire.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." -- Hebrews 10:23-25 RSV.
Who should you meet with? In the first century it was very clear. Jesus' followers in Jerusalem gathered together with the Apostles, and in cities around the Mediterranean Sea there were congregations founded by the Apostle Paul or other traveling missionary preachers. But now in the twenty-first century a city may have ten or twenty different churches with different names, belonging to different denominations, and separated from each other by different practices, customs and doctrines, as well as small house churches meeting in private homes. Does it matter which one you choose to attend? Which one is the true church filled with followers of the real Jesus?
The true church is not any man-made denomination or organization, but is the worldwide body of all those individuals who belong to Christ. The true church is "... the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven ..." -- Hebrews 12:23 NASB.
Once you become a follower of Jesus, you immediately and automatically become a member of that true church, and your name is registered in heaven in the true church's membership rolls. Jesus knows those who belong to him.
Then, what about all the different churches and organizations? Which one should you fellowship with? Or, should you avoid the organized churches with large buildings, and instead meet with fellow believers in a private home?
Some groups will tell you that they are the one true church, and that all the others are false. Others recognize one another as fellow Christians, but maintain separate organizations due to different preferences in style of worship or different traditions for conducting baptisms, celebrating Communion, and so on -- relatively minor distinctions -- while agreeing with one another on the main elements of their faith.
Does it matter which one you choose to fellowship with? Yes, it matters very much. Some churches or groups calling themselves "Christian" are actually destructive cults that ruin people's lives. Some are mere social clubs. Some lead people away from Jesus, while using his name to make people feel good about doing bad -- even teaching that Jesus accepts the very things he condemned.
Jesus himself warned, "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'" -- Matthew 7:21-23 RSV.
And the Apostle Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus that leaders would arise among them who would mislead the churches: "I know that after I leave, some people will come like wild wolves and try to destroy the flock. Also, some from your own group will rise up and twist the truth and will lead away followers after them." -- Acts 20:29-30 NCV.
So, how can you discern whether a church is really doing God's will? How can you know whether those in leadership are following Jesus, or are leading away followers after themselves?
You won't be able to make complete sense of the confusing array of churches and denominations without knowing what the Bible says about the history of the early churches, and what later church history says about how some of the original churches became corrupt, and how they broke up into various denominations and groups. Such a study could take years to complete, and your understanding of these matters may change as you grow and mature in the faith and as you gain experience in dealing with other believers. You may find yourself moving from one church or fellowship to another as you learn more, or as the fellowship you are in changes its character, which often happens as different individuals assume positions of leadership.
But none of this should cause you to postpone fellowshipping with others who want to follow Jesus. Approach the matter prayerfully, trusting that God will answer your prayer by guiding you into a fellowship where you can learn and where you can help others -- even if it eventually turns out that what you learn is that you need to go elsewhere, and that you end up helping others go with you. (Compare my personal testimony found later in this book.)
Reading through the New Testament even just once will give you a general sense of what Jesus and his Apostles taught, and will allow you to compare that with what you hear in church.
Due to the widespread apostasy (departing from the faith) in Christian churches today, it is important to exercise caution when choosing a body of believers to associate with. But, at the same time, you should not look for perfection, because you won't find it. Consider, for example, the very first Christian group with Jesus and the twelve Apostles at its nucleus. If you attended their meetings, you might have noticed that one of the Apostles was embezzling funds from the group's cash account -- Judas Iscariot who later betrayed Jesus. (John 12:6) But did that mean it was a phony church you should avoid? Obviously not, because Jesus himself was there, leading the group. Likewise today, every church group has its problems, including some impostors among the flock, perhaps even in positions of leadership.
Just as he keeps working with us individuals to help us grow up in the faith, Jesus works with churches to help them mature and do better. In the meantime, even a truly Christian church may have serious problems. For example, Jesus used the Apostle Paul to work with the church in Corinth, which at one point was having such serious problems that Paul told them, "your meetings do more harm than good." -- 1 Corinthians 11:17 NIV.
Some false teachers preached "another Jesus" to the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:4) -- not the real Jesus whom Paul preached. The Corinthian church also tolerated sexual immorality in its midst. Paul also worked with the church at Galatia, where false teachers had introduced "a different gospel" (Gal. 1:6) that perverted the gospel of Christ. Speaking from heaven through a vision, the risen Christ had the Apostle John condemn the church at Thyatira for tolerating a woman who promoted sexual immorality. (Rev. 2:20) In fact, of the seven churches addressed in the opening chapters of Revelation, only two churches were found to be following Jesus acceptably; the other five were sternly warned to "repent". But that call to repentance meant Jesus was still working with them. So, if five out of seven churches in the first century needed to repent before they could receive Jesus' approval, what about the churches today? And what about their teaching?
If you want to follow Jesus -- and not be misled by church leaders who are preaching "another Jesus" --prayerfully read the Bible. And keep in mind that Jesus is alive. Besides living in heaven at the right hand of the Father, Jesus also is alive on earth, living with, in and through Christian believers. He promised:
"One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him. ... If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. ... But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you." -- John 14:21, 23, 26.
And Jesus is present in the meetings of the congregations of Christian believers: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst." -- Matthew 18:20.
So, when we fellowship with others, our focus should be on Jesus and not on the shortcomings of our fellow worshipers. Remember that we have our own shortcomings too, and the worldwide church is the body of Christ. Just as the different parts of our own physical bodies have their strengths and weaknesses, so the different members of the church each contribute different talents, and help each other with their weaknesses.
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body -- whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free. ... Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. ... The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. ... Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues." -- 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 21-22, 27-28 NIV.
Fellow believers can be a source of instruction and encouragement. And, as you grow in the faith, you will be able to help others in turn, especially as you become aware of the gifts and talents God has given you.
But beware of letting any church interpret the Bible for you, especially if the interpretation turns out to teach something different from what an ordinary person would understand from reading the Bible alone. Instead, become so familiar with the Bible itself that you can use it to evaluate the teachings you hear at church. Some pastors may resent your doing this, but those who follow Jesus and love the written word of God will welcome your using the Bible to check up on them. The Apostle Paul was glad when his listeners, "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." -- Acts 17:11 NIV.
"Jezebel" in the Churches
By David A. Reed
To the [mainly Gentile] Christian church in the ancient city of Thyatira the resurrected and risen [Jesus] Christ sent this message [decades after the Apostle Paul had delivered his "gospel of grace"]:
"I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." -- Revelation 2:20-23 NIV.
Similarly, the early disciple Jude [was led by the Holy Spirit] to write a letter .... warning about false teachers who were bringing sexual immorality and all sorts of other [sinful] practices into the [Christian] churches:
"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." -- Jude 3-[19. Go get your Bible and re-read Jude before you continue here.]
[Unfortunately, even in these "last days",] ... a strong warning against the modern acceptance of sexual sin and other pagan practices in many [Christian] churches [is necessary]. ... Has anyone actually introduced anything comparable to eating food sacrificed to idols in today's churches?
Yes -- through the practice of meditation ... Although the actual idols found in Hindu temples may not have been brought into Christian churches, the practices Hindus employ to worship those idols have been brought in. ...
Hindu meditation was introduced to America several decades ago by a south Asian who used the title "Yogi" after his name. He presented it, not as religion, but as a "relaxation technique". People would be taught to relax by repeating some meaningless sounds called Mantras -- emptying their minds, and relaxing, repeating the Mantras over and over again, thinking about nothing but the Mantra. ... The result was that this form of meditation was adopted everywhere, from large business corporations that wanted to make their workers more productive, to Christian churches.
But the problem is that Mantras are not just meaningless sounds; they are elements of Hindu prayer. ... mantras originated in the Vedic tradition of India, later becoming an essential part of the Hindu tradition and a customary practice within Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. ... For the authors of the Hindu scriptures of the Upanishads, the syllable Aum, itself constituting a mantra, represents Brahman, the godhead, as well as the whole of creation. ... While praying by reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to Arihantas, Siddhas, spiritual leaders (Acharyas), teachers (Upadyayas) and all the monks. ...
So, Eastern meditation -- particularly when a mantra is recited -- is clearly an element of non-Christian religion. It has no place in the lives of Christians. For some people, the practice of Eastern meditation does not go beyond repeating Hindu prayers, but for others it leads to personality changes and deeper involvement in forms of worship of other gods -- false worship that is hostile to Jesus Christ and condemned in the Bible.
But I mentioned that there were two ways that Hindus found to disguise their worship and get Westerners to practice it. ... The other disguise that Hindu worship adopted was Yoga. And this disguised form of Eastern religion, too, has been widely adopted by many people in the West. Large business corporations commonly invite employees to take Yoga classes. And Yoga classes are found in many churches, sometimes taught by the pastor or his wife. ...
Some try to claim that Yoga is just stretching exercises, nothing more. But many of the postures assumed during those exercises are positions of worship for various Hindu gods. The goal of Yoga is not just to affect the body, but also to affect the mind. People who become serious about Yoga may easily pass beyond stretching their body and find themselves taking on the teachings of the Hindu religion -- a polytheistic, idol-worshipping religion which is hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another element of idolatry or pagan religion brought into Christian churches by modern Jezebels (male and female) involves the practice of spiritism, witchcraft or sorcery. The society we live in today uses all the media at its disposal to teach us to view sorcerers or practicers of witchcraft as harmless, or even as good. Sorcerers are even presented as heroes we should want to imitate. This has been going on for decades, but has reached a new peak in this generation. I recall as a youngster seeing the Walt Disney movie The Sorcerer's Apprentice. It seemed harmless enough, but served as a wedge to open the door to more serious endeavors. Today's young people have been bombarded with a series of Harry Potter books and movies promoting sorcery in a way never seen before.
Witchcraft and spiritism used to hide out in dark places, but today they have exploded into the open. We see palm readers and tarot card readers everywhere. Instead of just a physical massage, massage parlors are offering Reiki, a Buddhist spiritual practice that claims to transfer spiritual energy through the hands of the practitioner. Many people are decorating their front yards for Halloween the way they used to decorate only for Christmas. ...
Notice what God said about sorcerers, as recorded by the Hebrew prophet Malachi: "'So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,' says the LORD Almighty." -- Malachi 3:5 NIV.
God groups sorcery in with adultery, perjury, fraud and injustice. ... the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia ... : "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like, I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." -- Galatians 5:19-21 NIV.
Revelation contains similar strong warnings against those who practice magic arts: "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death." -- Revelation 21:8 NIV.
"Outside are the dogs, those who practise magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practises falsehood." -- Revelation 22:15 NIV.
What if you have been involved in such practices? Is there any hope for you? Yes, by putting faith in Jesus Christ, you can be set free, and can be forgiven for all your sins. Jesus will help you put the sin of sorcery behind you, and will help you learn His righteous ways of living. When the first century Apostles of Christ went preaching the Gospel throughout pre-Christian Europe and Asia, they encountered many pagans who practiced magic, witchcraft and sorcery. Acts 19:19-20 tells us what these people did when they became Christian believers:
"A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power." -- Acts 19:19-20.
Besides things related to pagan idolatry, the book of Revelation says Jezebel also brought sexual immorality into the church. She was living up to the behavior of her namesake in ancient Israel, the pagan mother of king Joram, "What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?" -- 2 Kings 9:22 English Standard Version.
The men condemned in the opening verses of Jude's letter likewise brought sexual misconduct into the church, changing "the grace of our God into a license for immorality." (Jude 4).
Over the course of the past hundred years or so, there has been a dramatic change in the popular view of sexual morality and what is considered right and wrong. Behavior that was once viewed as sinful and bad is now accepted as normal and good. People who once would have been shunned as gross sinners are now held up before the public as role models and heroes. Whereas people who practiced what the Bible classifies as sexual misconduct used to be condemned in the public media, today the media treat such people as celebrities. Christians who uphold the Bible's standards of right and wrong are often presented today as old fashioned, out of step with the times, intolerant, homophobic or guilty of "hate speech" or "hate crimes".
Pressured to conform to this new popular trend to view all sorts of sexual misconduct as morally acceptable, many churches have made a similar about-face, now accepting into membership and even ordaining as clergy, people whose [on-going] behavior [is condemned by the Bible]. ... How should you view churches that welcome as members and clergy people whose behavior is condemned by the Bible
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in ancient Rome: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." -- Romans 12:2.
When Christian churches were being established in a world that still practiced polygamy and divorce, the higher standard of monogamous marriage was held up as the example to follow, and a requirement for church leaders: "This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer, he desires a good work. The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife." -- 1 Timothy 3:1-2.
Mankind has been in rebellion against God throughout the history of this planet. An outstanding case was recorded in the book of Genesis: "Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD." -- Genesis 13:13 NIV.
"Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave," God considered destroying those cities. But first he sent two angels in the form of men to investigate, and he discussed the matter with Abraham. Abraham begged God not to "destroy the righteous with the wicked," and God agreed that he would spare the whole city of Sodom if he found ten good people there. (Gen. 18:17-32 NKJV)
Part of Abraham's concern must have been due to the fact that his nephew Lot was then living in Sodom. In fact, when the investigating angels arrived that evening, Lot invited them to spend the night at his house. "But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter. They called to Lot, and said to him, 'Where are the men who came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may have sex with them.'" -- Genesis 19:4-5.
The angels did not find ten righteous people in the city [of Sodom]. Instead they led out Lot and his immediate family, so that God could destroy the place, and "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." -- Genesis 19:24-25 KJV.
Our modern English words "sodomy" and "sodomize [and "sodomite"] come from the name of that ancient city of Sodom that God destroyed as punishment for its inhabitants' sins.
Several centuries later when God led the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land and gave them laws to live by, these laws included many that spelled out what God declared to be right and wrong in regard to sexual relations:
"You must never have sexual relations with your close relatives ... You must not have sexual relations with your brother's wife ... You must not have sexual relations with your neighbor's wife ... You must not have sexual relations with a man as you would a woman. That is a hateful sin. You must not have sexual relations with an animal; it is not natural." -- Leviticus 18:6, 16, 20, 22-23 NCV.
Although Christians are not under the [Mosaic] law, ... the Apostle Paul points this out: "But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully, as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave-traders, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine; according to the Good News of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. ... And I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he counted me faithful, appointing me to service; although I was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." -- 1 Timothy 1: 8-13.
Like Paul, we too may have sinned "ignorantly in unbelief", but we too can obtain God's mercy when we repent and choose to follow Jesus in these matters. Like Paul, we too can change our conduct, abandoning practices that God condemns. Jesus is alive and active in the lives of those who accept him not only as their Savior, but also as their Lord -- to save them from their sins and to lead them through life from now on. God's Holy Spirit can empower believers to make changes in their conduct that would have been impossible on their own. As ancient king David wrote, we can pray, "LORD ... Take away my desire to do evil or to join others in doing wrong. Don't let me eat tasty food with those who do evil." -- Psalm 141:4 NCV.
As we read the New Testament, we find that the Apostles and disciples of Jesus uphold God's same moral standard as expressed in the moral law given to the Jews, and they warn us that God will execute the same sort of punishment again against those who persist in practicing sexual immorality, as he did in the Old Testament -- even referring back to God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example. The Apostle Peter writes that God "condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly." -- 2 Peter 2:6 NIV.
The disciple Jude wrote similarly at Jude 7, pointing out clearly the sexual nature of their sins: "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." -- Jude 7 NIV.
Like the Old Testament, the Christian New Testament plainly spells out the conduct God condemns:
"Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, ... For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. ... Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness ... who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them." -- Romans 1:24-32. Notice that this passage closes by condemning, not only those who practice such things, but also those who "approve of those who practice them".
But what about the popular notion today that people who practice these things are "born that way" -- that God even made them that way -- and so it is okay for them to behave that way? Yes, people are born with the desire to sin, but that does not make it okay to act out those desires. The Bible explains where these sinful desires really come from:
"... sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. ... death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience." -- Romans 5:12-14.
The Bible explains that the first man Adam brought sin into the world, and Adam passed on to all of his offspring a tendency to sin. For some people it is a tendency to steal. Other people inherited a tendency toward violence. For some men, it is a very strong desire to be a womanizer; they have a sexual inclination toward multiple women, instead of just one wife. Some have a strong inclination toward homosexual relations. Some people inherited a tendency toward dependence on alcohol or drugs.
Does that mean we should all feel free to act out our sinful inclinations? Of course not. We all need to struggle against inherited sin, no matter what sinful inclination is strongest in our particular case. The Apostle Paul explains it this way:
"No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -- 1 Corinthians 10:13.
So, if you're struggling with sexual desires -- desires to behave in ways that God declares unacceptable -- you should not feel condemned. All of us have inherited strong tendencies to sin in one way or another. Rather, you should feel encouraged to keep up the battle against temptation. We all have struggles against temptations to sin in one form or another. Even the Apostle Paul wrote concerning himself:
"I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." -- 1 Corinthians 9:27 NIV.
Even the Apostle Paul struggled against the tendency to sin in his own body. And, the Christians that Paul addressed his letters to back in the first century had similar struggles. They, too, like all of us, had inherited sinful tendencies, and many of them had been in the habit of acting out those tendencies through sinful conduct before coming to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins and changing their conduct to obey him as his followers. They stopped their sinful practices and they were washed clean from their sins in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Notice what Paul wrote about the particular sins that members of the Corinthian congregation had been practicing before they repented and began following Jesus: "Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God. Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God." -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Yes, when Paul lists the former sins of the Corinthians, he includes adulterers and male prostitutes and homosexuals, and he confirms that this is what some of them were -- not still are, but were, in the past. They had put their sins behind them and were washed clean through their faith in Jesus.That is quite different from continuing in sin, and bringing that sin into the Church. "Don't be deceived", Paul wrote above.
In many churches there are false teachers like Jezebel who deceive their listeners into thinking it is okay to persist in sinful sexual behavior while calling oneself a Christian. That is why Paul listed the above sins, and added, "Do not be deceived." The Apostle Paul elaborated on the need to stop sinning in his letter to the congregation in Rome:
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. ... For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. ... In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." -- Romans 6:1-14 NIV.
When Jesus healed a man at the pool of Bethesda, he told the man, "Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you." -- John 5:14 NIV.
But today, there are those who teach that sexual misconduct is not sin at all, but that it's okay to practice it. Yes, this is a teaching in many churches today -- that the sexual practices labeled as sin in the Bible have somehow now become acceptable to God. Some of these churches hang a banner on the walls of the church saying, "God is still speaking." And what they mean is that God is now speaking something contrary to what he says throughout the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Obviously, it is not the God of the Bible that they are listening to. Obviously, they are not following the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible.
Today, much of the world around us today openly dismisses both God and the Bible. As the Apostle Peter writes, "in the last days there will come men who scoff at religion and live self-indulgent lives." -- 2 Peter 3:3 NEB.
However, the day of the Lord will come. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
"Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." -- Revelation 2:20-23 NIV.