These are indeed times that try men's souls. God allows these trials to arise for several reasons, one being found in Jer. 17:9-10. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Yet the Lord knows the heart and He not only will allow but will bring circumstances into our lives (or into the "picture") in order to show where the heart is. Is the heart toward Him or is it toward someone or something else.
Because the heart is so deceitful a person or group of people can believe with all of their being that their heart is toward God when actually it is far from Him. The people might even be willing to die for what they believe in their heart. Yet willing to face all hardship and even death does NOT prove our heart is in the right direction.
Probably one of the hardest things to overcome was the attitude which Christ faced. First, Matt. 15:2 (Mk. 7:3) was the conflict which He created when He went contrary to what the religious leaders taught for doctrine. Secondly, because He did teach and stand upon what His Father had given Him, He created so much hostility among the religious leaders that they incited the people (Israel, not the Romans or Greeks) against Him to the point of demanding His death, Lk. 23:23.
It is not hard at all to follow this conflict throughout Christ's ministry between His doctrine and the religious leader's doctrine. Because His doctrine was so contrary to what they had taught the people, when Christ spoke out, they knew who He was talking about, Matt. 21:45.
Many times the heart is deceived. One of the worse things about this deception is that it was/is promoted by the religious leaders of God's people. Yet because Dr. So and So promotes it that does not make it right. Because that smooth sounding teacher teaches it this way does not make it right. Our hearts though become so convinced that it takes an intervention by God Himself to "try the reigns of the heart" and reveal where it is departed from His Word. Then the hard part. Can we lay aside what was taught to us by the "religious leaders" whom we have come into contact with for God's Word? Sad to say very few are able to.
There are many areas of our day where this will apply. Here we do need to consider God's Word in one of the more important areas. This being the area of taxation of the Church. I have not done enough research to know what the past stand of the early Church was other than that many times over the centuries the state has confiscated Church property to help themselves out of a financial bind. Really, what went on behind the scene, I don't know.
We are face to face with a problem to day which needs to be addressed HEAD ON. Does the civil government have the AUTHORITY to tax the Church? We would ignore facts if we would say they do not have the power because they do have the world's power and might. We have no choice but to say that this power and might is from God. Daniel 4:17 is quite clear on this and this doctrine is consistent throughout Scripture.
"Ok" you say, "Why is the power over us oppressing God's people if the power is from Him?" Jer. 17:9-10 give us the answer. Their heart has turned from Him and it takes an oppressive power greater than they are to reveal that this has taken place. Again, it may "slide by" for years but sooner or later it will come to pass. When it does, there will probably be a tremendous price to get the heart back in the proper direction.
Does civil government have the AUTHORITY to tax the church? "OK" you say, "If all Authority belongs to God and if He raised them up then they have the proper AUTHORITY and we must obey".
But now this presents another difficulty. Rev. 13 we have authority given to the beast to blaspheme the Lovely Name of the Lord God as well as power and authority to make war with the saints (vv. 6-7). Because ALL POWER belongs to God, Matt. 28:17, this power had to come from God. Yet the saints are praised for refusing to submit to this power. Therefore, because they have been given AUTHORITY and power by God DOES NOT require submission by God's people. It can (and is in Rev. 13) be used to glorify God even when it goes contrary to God's Word, Ps. 76:10. ONLY when that AUTHORITY and power is used in accordance to God's law-word is it proper authority which demands obedience by God's people.
Does civil government have the AUTHORITY to tax the Church? To this we must answer yes. They have the AUTHORITY and the power to enforce that authority to tax the Church.
Let's rephrase that question. Does civil government have the BIBLICAL AUTHORITY and POWER to tax the church which God's people are required to obey in God's eyes. This answer will need to be addressed with another point in mind. If the "Church" is incorporated, yes. That body of people have denied the Lord's authority and have willingly submitted themselves to the authority of civil government. They are required by God's Word (Rom. 13) to obey whatever that authority requires of them.
If that authority will grant them tax-exemption, fine. If that authority will send them money, fine. If that authority requires forms and documents, if it requires a total and complete financial disclosure, if it requires verification of every sermon preached or action taken within that "Church", then under God that group of people OWE THAT TO their authority. Whatever their authority requires of them they must provide in order to be right with God. Civil government was given the Biblical Authority over them when they submitted to that authority through incorporation. Now, keep in mind though, for a Church to be under God's authority as required by Scriptures, they must be unincorporated. Otherwise, they are a organization doing religious work.
Now let's go to the other side, the unincorporated Church. Does civil government have the Biblical AUTHORITY to tax this church? And then this authority recognized in order to be right with God.
To this we must answer, no. Let's look at some Scriptures and questions concerning this. There are at least two places which can establish some principles here. Both probably equally as important and each needing the other to build upon.
The first one is repeated three times. Matt. 22:21 (Mk. 12:17; Lk. 20:25). "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." I believe we will find that Christ is not dealing with church-state issues but with the individual-state relationship. Also, an interesting side light is Mk. 12:24, "Do ye not therefore err, because ye known not the [OT] Scriptures, neither the power of God?" No doubt, this is a major problem today. "Christians" unwilling to lay aside the teaching of the elders and religious leaders for the Scriptures and the power of God.
"Render therefore unto Caesar--". Let us clearly say this. Just because Caesar lays claim to it does not make it his. The Word of God alone determines what is Caesars and what is not his. The individual is NOT Caesars, Ezek. 18:4. The tithes and offerings are not his, Mal. 3:10. This would include the things which are bought with those tithes and offerings. The Church is not his, Eph. 1:22, 23. Unless, of course, the group of people have gone to him and said, "Here we are, we're yours. Do with us as you see fit. We eill do whatever you ask of us (incorporation)". And finally, God's Word is very clear on this, the world is NOT Caesars, Ps. 24:1.
The main point that we want to see is that the Church is not his (Caesars). The body of believers have been bought with a price. They have been given to Christ by God the Father, I Cor. 6:20; 7:23. Christ alone is to be their Head or Authority, Eph. 4:15; 5:23. To recognize ANY OTHER AUTHORITY over the body of believers would be to deny this.
In fact, notice the call in Col. 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence". This passage is quite clear. He is to hold first place in ALL THINGS. Nothing or no one is to lay any claim above Christ upon the church. Nothing or no one can be permitted to have authority over Christ to His Church. It is impossible to recognize any other authority other than Christ over the Church without denying Him.
Of course we are warned in His Word that there will be men who will seek to be first in the Church, III Jn. 9. Then we have Peter's warning in II Pet. 2:1-3. Here are men who will try to win away those who love God. Win them away from the Lord's authority to another authority for the benefit involved. "Look at how much it will benefit you, if you will only do this".
Does Caesar have the Biblical Authority to tax the Church? To which we must answer no, he does not. To recognize such authority is to deny Christ's Authority.
"But", you say, "It isn't the body of believers being claimed, it is the property". To which we must answer, "Who does the tithe and offerings belong to?" Of course, Mal. 3:7-12 is calling the child of God who fails to tithe and give offerings, a robber, as they withhold that money. But the principle is clear cut here. That money or property which is given to God belongs to God.
This brings up a point. If God's money is given to civil government in the form of taxes, what has the person done who gave the money to them? The person giving the money has robbed God.
"But", you say, "We don't give the money to civil government because we filed the tax-exempt forms". To file the forms admits that all the money which comes in as tithes and offerings belongs to the state and they have the Biblical power and AUTHORITY from God over those offerings to exempt that money. It denies that the money is God's. IF they do not have the Biblical right to the tithes and offerings then why do we file the forms? "Well, we file the forms to keep the civil government off our backs". In other words, the deciding factor in filing them is the advantage which it brings, not the word of God. You would only ask for an exemption from someone who has both the Biblical right and Authority over whatever it might be, therefore, the right to exempt.
The draft is a good example. The Christian admits the Biblical Authority of civil government over this area, then exemption is requested for whatever reason.
The other place to establish a principle in this area would be Rom. 13:1-7. Does civil government have the Biblical AUTHORITY to tax the Church. Rom. 13:6, "For this cause pay ye tribute--". Once again, the context is speaking to the individual, not to the Church.
Paul is pointing out that civil government is providing civil stability, law enforcement, social services as well as protection of life and property. "For this cause pay ye tribute--".
The incorporated church (body of people) is looking to civil government for these things, therefore, civil government has the Biblical right to their funds which come in. They need to file for an exemption. To fail to do so and then refuse to pay taxes would be disobedience to God and to the authority they have chosen to operate under. Whatever "religious works" they might do are being done under the state's authority.
The state provides the protection for this group of people. "For this cause" they are to pay tribute. Yet, if they will file the forms they will be exempt from that tribute.
On the other hand, the unincorporated (unregistered) body of people (Church) is not looking to the state. They are not operating under the state's authority. Therefore, what they do is under the Lord's authority.
Let's consider some things. The Church which operates under the Lord's Authority is not looking to the state to provide their benefits for them. They are looking to the Lord. The "for this cause" would not apply to them. The Church is to provide its own court system, I Cor. 5. The Church is to provide its own welfare system, Ja. 2. The Church is looking to the Lord for its protection, not to civil government. The list could go on and on.
The Church is a "law unto itself" only it isn't. Its law for its operation is found in God's Word. Paul instructed both Timothy and Titus along this line.
Therefore, if Rom. 13:1-7 is used to encourage the state Church (incorporated) to submit all of their funds to civil government then seek an exemption, then, the principle is there to enforce this before God.
If Rom. 13:1-7 is used to encourage the unincorporated Church which is not under the state's authority or protection, to submit all of their funds to the state, it is misused. It will not fit the context because the "For this cause" of v. 6 will not apply. This Church is NOT looking to the state for its protection and provision, it is looking to God.
Now, let's hear the conclusion to this whole confusing matter. We have said it once but let's point it out again.
1. To file the forms requesting tax-exemption must involve admitting that the authority the request is being made to has all authority over it.
a) As a Church this also admits that this authority is a BIBLICAL AUTHORITY. Request for tax-exemption must recognize the taxing agencies claim of authority (even ownership) over what is being taxed and that authority as given to them by God. Otherwise the request would be seen as sin on the part of the one requesting. If it is not a godly godly request, then it is a sin to obey it.
b) Civil government, the state, indeed does claim total control but can the Church recognize that AUTHORITY as a legitimate Biblical use of the AUTHORITY and power which God has given them?
2. The distinction must be made between incorporated state "churches" and unincorporated churches who are not state churches.
a) The state churches have already submitted ALL to the state. Therefore they need to file for exemption in order to be under proper authority.
b) The unincorporated church, whose authority is the Lord of Host cannot file the forms. To do so will deny the Lord's authority over IT by saying that the state has the authority over the tithes and offerings. To do so will create problems with our Lord.
When a body of people take the tithes and offerings which have been dedicated to God then offer them to the state in hopes that the state will return them in the form of exemption is no better than the old Molech worship.
From what I understand, Molech worship didn't often involve actual death to the child. Rather it was sort of a "wave offering" to Molech. The child would be "waved" or passed over (through) the fire which burned before Molech then taken back by the parents. This showed the dedication of the child to Molech, the state, (as Rushdoony points out in his Institutes of Biblical Law).
This would be an imitation of the "wave offering" before God. Here the offering was "waved" toward heaven and returned to the offerer showing that it was God's and returned back by His Grace.
The tax-forms are no better. In the filing of them there is a admission that the tithes and offerings belong to the state, not to God, and it is by the grace of the state that they are exempt. Those who do this, are robbing God.
Our text, Jer. 17:9-10. God has raised up an ungodly authority to try the reigns of the heart. Many are so deceived and even convinced that the religous leaders are right that they won't even consider the principle involved.
God help us as His Judgment comes against HIS PEOPLE who refuse to recognize HIS AUTHORITY even over the tithes and offerings.
(Results in drug control?)
It has been some time since we have been able to get anything out because our printer has been in the repair shop since Dec. of '88. During this time, we have seen many things take place. I think one which requires some thought would be the situation regarding "assault rifles".
We are the ones being assaulted and that assault is from every side as the media issues their call against these types of weapons. We are being told that the average man does not need "assault rifles". We are told that the very name "assault rifles" tells us that these are designed to kill people (never mind that they are giving the name its great publicity). We are being told that because those desiring to break the law find "assault rifles" convenient to use, they must be banned. Because these types of weapons are used by the dope pushers, if we do away with this type of weapon, the dope pushers will be done away with.
We are even hearing this from folks who should know better. People who claim to know the principles involved in these kind of things.
Let's consider for a moment a few points. We live here in a very rural community having a tendency to look at California, as they move to ban these weapons, and say, "That's way out there (or N.Y., etc.). They are liberals anyway who seem to be bent on destroying our freedoms but that is over there and we are here."
This would be okay except we see from the Indpls. Star (3/24/89) that these desires for more and more control over citizens is also in our own back yard. The move to further disarm the law-abiding citizen and place more controls upon him is now breathing down our necks. If we are not aware of what is going on and take our stand, we will be next.
Let's look at some of the arguments. (1.) "The average man doesn't need an assault rifle." (a.) This is completely beside the point. If the average law-abiding citizen desires to have a fully operational military tank, ammo and all, and he is willing to shell out his hard-earned money to support something that another might feel is foolish, that is totally his business. As long as he isn't a threat to the life, liberty or property of another citizen, it really is no ones business what he does.
If a person desires to have an "assault rifle" and is willing to pay the 25 cents to 50 cents a shot to shoot it, that really isn't anyone else business, unless he is destroying their life or property. In that case he is a murderer and a butcher knife or a bow and arrow, will do a much quieter job. Is the next step to outlaw a bow and arrow because these can be used to kill. I realize this may come as a surprise to the social planners, but, an "assault rifle" never killed anyone. If a person is going to murder, he is going to murder. If we would treat the law breakers as the criminal he is, we wouldn't be trying to prosecute "assault rifles".
The next point (2.) we notice from the article is this statement by one of these elite planners who should know which end of the bolt the nut goes on, (but evidently they don't). "This is not to say that taking them off the market and taking them legally off the street is going to resolve all the doing problems. But it should be tried." (a.) Can you imagine such empty headiness coming from those who consider themselves wisdom incarnate in the flesh? My, my how like human nature. We can't or won't deal with a problem so we strike out at something else which is connected with the problem. These social planners are unable to deal with the drug problem so they strike out at something which is closely connected with it. Really we can't point a finger at anyone past ourselves. We do exactly the same thing with areas which we can't get a grip on.
Therefore, to even indicate that a restriction, (or ban), on weapons of any kind would put a dent in the drug traffic is to be so far out of touch with reality that they will probably never come down to earth. There is really no way to reason with a person who has no more sense than that.
People use weapons. People use drugs. People sells drugs. People kill people (cocaine has never killed anyone anymore than a bullet has. It is the misuse by people which turns these things into killers). Therefore, until there is a change in people, we will have murders whether that murder is with an "assault rifle", a club or with cocaine (or with an elite planner).
This brings us to point (3.). Here these social planners are saying that as we control the weapons, this will help control the drugs. (a.) Anyone with any sense at all should be able to see through this for what it is, a smoke screen hiding the real problem. It is obvious to any intelligent individual that if the drugs are controlled the threat from the murderers would lesson immensely.
But it can't stop here. The basic problem is a lack of self-control. Because the person isn't self-controlled he is controlled by drugs (of all kinds). Then this control which drugs bring demands obedience to its desires regardless of the cost involved, even to murder. It is getting the cart before the horse, (in fact, maybe even shooting the horse), to think that controlling weapons will help to control drugs. Drugs are a cause of misuse of weapons, not a result of the misuse of weapons.
Now we have point (4.). This would be the mistaken idea that weapons of any kind can be controlled or restricted from the law- breaker. (a.) Again, it is beyond human comprehension that anyone would think that they could control weapons when they can't control drugs. What makes anyone think that a person who won't obey the law with drugs will obey the law when it comes to weapons? The only persons who will be controlled will be the average citizen who desires to be a law abiding person. This control will only lead him to being more at the mercy of the criminal.
Point (5.) Another thought arises, this being, "Where will the control stop? (a.) Of course the drug pusher will turn in his "assault rifle" but now he starts using a single shot, bolt action rifle or single shot handgun. The next logical step will be to outlaw the single-shot gun. Then, of course he will turn in his single-shot gun but now he will have to use a bow and arrow. Then he turns that in and uses a club or knife (as they did before the "assault weapons"). Now what? If drugs are a result of the misuse of weapons then all weapons must be controlled before drugs can be controlled.
(6.) There is another point which needs to be made as the social planners call for "weapon control." Where is the call for alcohol control? The misuse of alcohol has killed more people than "assault rifles" have ever killed. Alcohol has ruined more homes, damaged more families and individuals cost more money in lost time, damaged equipment and rehabilitation, and caused more heartache than all of the guns combined which the civilian population now owns.
If there were such a sincere desire to stop the killing, then why isn't action taken against the greatest killer of our day, alcohol? Again, alcohol sitting in its container, never killed anyone, nor has a gun or drugs or a club. It is when the uncontrolled individual misuses that object that the person becomes a killer.
It is indeed a sad day for America when we have people in the position of "leadership" who are so out-of-touch with reality that they can't see obvious things like, the misuse of guns don't cause drug abuse.
When we lose sight that objects don't kill people and that people kill people, there is no stopping the elite social planners as they pass every rule and regulation we can imagine to try to control objects.
Until there is a return to dealing with the problem, people, there will be nothing but more and more central control, socialism. If the individual will not control themselves, then the civil government must control them. Until this fact is come to grips with, only chaos lies ahead.
A Biblical View
We are seeing a tremendous public indoctrination concerning treaties with the USSR. We are being told by our leaders (of whom the media consider themselves a key member of the inner circle of elite planners), of how good it is to dwell together in peace with the Soviets. If we would believe them, the eastern block nations are no longer a threat to the west, therefore, we can now open trade with them as well as disarm ourselves. What does the Scriptures say about this or do they say anything?
First, let's make two points.
1. The Eastern block nations openly deny God. Their public policy is clearly anti-God, anti-Bible and anti-Christ. Of this there can be no question. They were founded in Marxism and totally against God.
2. These United States were founded in a godly foundation. The purpose was to glorify God and advance his kingdom. F.B. Morris makes this exceptionally clear in his book, "Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States."
With this in mind, let's look at some things.
I. If there is any point clear in Scriptures, it is that God forbids his people to unite with those who deny God. God clearly forbids treaties with evil, Ex. 23:32; Deut. 7:2-4; II Cor. chp. 6.
There are several reasons given.
A. To make a covenant with evil implies approval of that system. How can we place our approval on such a system which is so clearly against God and against people?
B. All who are against God, God is against, and those who united with them, God will judge, Deut. 29:18-24; Rom. 1:31-32. God will overthrow all things which are opposed to Christ, Ek. 21:27; 23:49, etc.
C. To make a treaty with death and hell is to assume God's law doesn't work, Isa. 28:14-18.
D. The policy of the eastern block nations is anti-god, anti-christ. This leaves them no standard of truth and error, right and wrong except what they establish as truth. Truth to them will be in relationship to what works best for them. Whereas truth for us is only in relationship with the word of God, Jn. 14:6; Jn. 17:17. For them good is in relationship to their goal of world domination. Anything which will improve this goal is good. For us, good is defined by God's word.
II. Even our Lord tells us that a strong man armed keepeth his house. If the strong man is overpowered, then his house is open to spoiling by his enemy, Lk. 11:21, 22. This shows us that strength, not treaty, is the means of securing our house. Strength is for defense of freedom to obey God.
A. The total GNP can be spent on defense but when the people turn from God, a small insignificant nation can strike fear in and overpower them, Lev. 26:36; Ps. 127:1; Prov. 21:31.
B. The result of turning from God's law-word will be to seek worldly might and strength. The arms race is a result of turning from God and having to depend on the arm of the flesh. Ps. 43:1, 2. Which will fail we might add.
C. The motto of the U.S. is, "In God we Trust." To trust a treaty with a society determined on world domination is a direct contradiction with our motto. How can those who seek to do good make league with those who seek to do evil and enslave people, II Cor. 6:14?
D. When a nation turns from God, they had better make deals for peace with the enemies of God, Lk. 16:9.
III. As we see these United States being reduced to a second rate power, we are reminded of Deut. 28. Verses 1-13, the blessings on the nation which will serve God, and 28:14 on, shows us the curses against the nations which refuse to make the Lord their God. See Ps. 33:12.
IV. We should note in all of this talk of treaties, that Lenin said, "Negotiations are just another tool of war to gain advantage over your enemy." (The End-time News Digest, Oct. '87.) History has definitely proved that the Marxist-Leninist follow this belief.
Conclusion. It would seem that past experience alone would show us the foolishness of treaties with the East, Soviets. They have yet to keep one and as we keep our side of the bargain. They use this to not only make us but keep us a second rate power even unable to defend ourselves. If our leaders are so interested in making and keeping treaties, why won't they keep the one they swore to uphold, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Civil leaders are to be ministers, servants, of God. They are to represent Him and His law-word and to fail to do so will bring God's judgment upon both them and those who permit them to continue on in their self-will, Ps. 9:17; Hosea 8:4; Gal. 6:7.
Peace is only possible through the Prince of Peace, Isa. 9:6.
As Christians, if we fail to speak against evil is to be partakers in that evil, and we will face the same judgment as those who make these ungodly covenants with evil, Ps. 50:18-20.
Jeremiah 23 is a powerful (and practical), chapter. Here is an inditement against the false prophets. The Lord gives quite a list of evils which these false prophets have brought about. Let's look at a few of them.
V. 1. They destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord, (see Ps. 100). Not the goats or the heathens. It is the Lord's people which they are destroying. V. 2. And drive them away-- The picture here would be of false shepherds driving sheep away from the green pastures where there is plenty of food which will keep them healthy. They drive them into the weeds and make them graze there. V. 3. out of all the countries-- Not only did they drive them away from the green pastures but caused them to be scattered world-wide. V. 4. fear.. They caused the people of God to fear and tremble. V. 10. Adulterers prosper. Swearing is common place. Their course is evil as violence fills the land. V. 13. They caused my people Israel to error. V. 15. They caused profaneness to go forth into all the land. The people of God, as a result of these false prophets, are given over to hypocrisy. V. 14. They strengthen the hands of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickedness: They are all of them unto me as Sodom and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. Rather than bringing about repentance, they only strengthened the evil doer in his wickedness. The wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. V. 27. They cause my people to forget my name and to turn from the Lord to Baal (the gods of this world). V. 30. They steal my words.. from the neighbour.. V. 36. They have perverted the words of the living God.
Keep in mind that this is addressed to the pastors who are set over God's people. Not to the heathen priests, etc..
In short, under these false prophets: 1.) Fear and trembling prevailed. Adulteries, swearing, violence and evil of all kinds proliferated among God's people. 2.) The Lord and His word were forgotten and replaced with the gods of this world, (Baal-Humanism). 3.) The people were led into error of all kinds, bringing down God's judgment upon them. The result was their departure from Him, His word and His scattering them world-wide. All of this within the congregation of the Lord, not the pagans. The false prophets brought the curse of God upon His people.
We have seen what they did, drove God's people away from Him and into evil of all kinds, bringing God's judgment upon them. Now, how did they do this? Verse 17 sums up all of it. Here we see the method these false prophets used to bring about all of the mentioned evil and wickedness. They say still unto them that despise (despise would be to refuse to hear and do His law-word) me the Lord hath said. Ye shall have peace; and they say unto everyone that walketh after the imagination (stubbornness) of his own heart, no evil shall come upon you.
The man of God (Jeremiah in this case), was warning the people of God that their sin was forcing God to judge them. The law of God (Deut. 28-31), required this action by God against their sin. These false prophets were telling the same people, "Nah, Jeremiah is a legalist. We have God's mercy and grace. We don't have to worry about that. God won't do evil. We are His special people, therefore exempt from His wrath. His wrath is against the pagans, not us. God has not ordained us to wrath. Don't let Jeremiah scare you." (See Zech. 1:12; Hosea 13:9, etc..) V. 16, (v. 26), notice their message was from their own hearts. The message was according to how they imagined it should be and not according to the revealed word of God.
Next, why were these false prophets giving such soothing and comforting messages of peace and prosperity. V. 11, these messengers themselves are profane. V. 14, they are filthy, they commit adultery, and walk in lies. In other words, they themselves were filthy, therefore they teach that God won't judge His people for their sin, in confidence that He won't judge theirs.
Next, where are these wicked messengers of peace and prosperity found? V. 11, in my house have I found this wickedness. This is pretty straight forward. They stand in the front of God's people, and in the name of the Lord claim to be delivering the message of the Lord. Yet that message contains no judgment against the sins of God's people, II Pet. 2:1-3.
Next, the result. Jeremiah preached repentance and faith. Return to the law of God and God will deliver and prosper. These false prophets spoke words of mockery against Jeremiah and soothing words of prosperity to the people, v. 22, these soothing words prevented the people from turning from their evil ways, and from the evil of their doings. The men of God warned and the false prophets cried, "Legalist. He is trying to place us under the law. We are under grace." It isn't hard to imagine which message the people of God choose. In other words, THE GOSPEL OF PROSPERITY prevented repentance which would have spared the judgment of God against their wickedness. See v. 2.
Then lastly, here is the heart of every man of God as he sees the people of God flock after THE GOSPEL OF PROSPERITY as he tries to deliver the whole council of God. V. 9, mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets (false prophets of peace and prosperity); all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.
Let's make one more point here. Involved in this was a mixed worship of Jehovah God and the use of the Teraphim. This Teraphim (a heathen method of worship), was a snare to them from Jacob and even to after the return. Jeremiah warned them about this mixed worship and the false prophets assured the people that it was all right. (See also Ezek. 21:29; 22:28.)
This is prevalent in our day. As folks are warned about the use of Humanism and Humanistic means to worship and serve the Holy God of Heaven, they are told by the false prophets that everything is all right. The man of God as he tries to call the people of God back to the law of God, sees the flock flee to the false prophets of a "feel-good gospel of peace and prosperity." As he sees this his heart within him is broken...
All who have ever tried to stand on the final authority of the law-word of God over His people have experienced exactly what Jeremiah is talking about here. This modern day GOSPEL OF PROSPERITY will bring about the judgment of God against the wickedness of His people. Romans chapter one, two and Galatians chapter six are quite clear on this as are many other passages. The false prophets of our day and their message is rocking His people to sleep, I Cor. 15:34.
"Where are the Jeremiah's today?", we hear folks say. They are around, scattered here and there as they try to call God's people back to the authority of His law. The army of false prophets are also everywhere, far out numbering the Jeremiah's. Through the preaching of the false prophets, the Jeremiah's are dismissed as legalist preachers and God's people, as sheep, flock after the message which gives them the most freedom from responsibility. The results will come to pass just as God promises.
Why is there no spirit of repentance as called for in II Chron. 7:14? The answer is quite obvious from Jeremiah chp. 23. The gospel of prosperity prevents repentance because repentance must be in terms of God's revealed law, I Jn. 3:4.