John MacArthur wrote in Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol 2, “The way of Christ is the way of willing obedience at any price.” I agree. Some, however, are confused when faced with the question, “obedience to whom?”
I once knew of a family with two college-age children who live in a cramped, two-bedroom apartment because even though both parents hold down full-time jobs, they “tithe” 10% of their gross income, in addition to paying exorbitant Canadian taxes, plus other “offerings” and a lot of time to a church that is extraordinarily wealthy. Most of their money is spent on luxurious buildings and parasites they will never meet, yet receive the benefits of their hard-earned money instead of their own children. Brainwashing par excellence.
When you neglect your family’s financial welfare in order to give money to your church, no matter what bright packaging the church provides for this, call it a tithe, offering, work, missions, the pastor’s salary, helping the “downtrodden” or “refugees”… you’re being obedient to your church or religious leaders or cult, not to Christ. And the “blessings” that are promised for “obedience” and the punishment that is threatened for “disobedience” are just as fake as the “qualifications” of their leaders. Cults are especially adept at this carrot-and-stick manipulation.
Much church manipulation is a lot more subtle than Opus Dei, of course. It’s camouflaged with smiles and hugs, veiled threats, and “for your own good” and “because we care about you.”
When you would rather spend time with the church leaders and “God’s work” instead of your wife and children, you’re being selfish, egocentric, manipulated, or just plain stupid – you’re not being obedient to Christ. This is hard to explain to people who are brainwashed to the extent that they actually believe God would rather speak to them via their religious leaders than directly. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need some Pope or Bishop or Minister to interpret His word or will to you; He speaks to you directly.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14: 26
In order to manipulate people, all you need do is convince them that you have a direct line to God and that they don’t, or that their line is inferior, polluted, or doesn’t even exist. The Roman Catholics wouldn’t even allow their flock to learn to read in years past, in case they saw through the trash that was being presented to them as God’s will.
Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “If the whole church goes off into deception, that will in no way excuse us for not following Christ. Men give advice; God gives guidance.”
The Bible holds the will of God, His nature, the way He works, and His will for you. The Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you if you sincerely seek it. When the church demands your time, money, obedience, and irrational behaviour, ask yourself why your allegiance has passed from your family and God’s will to some other person with his own agenda and motives. Ask yourself if what you are being taught by your church clashes with the final authority, which is God’s will, and if the Biblical passages used to justify the church’s position are being taken out of context.
This is all heresy to cult members, of course. When things go well for them financially, they claim it is because they tithed, and when their finances go awry, they claim God is testing them or it’s because they didn’t tithe. They don’t believe the atonement is final, they prefer salvation by works (legalism/Galatianism), and they can’t understand that many times, God blesses us just because He loves us, as any good father would. They think they can manipulate God and understand everything about Him, and still more ridiculously, the specifics about life after death. They forget Isiah 55:8-9. Very few cult leaders have any formal theological training.
Blind obedience to temporal authorities is the road to moral ruin.
Cognitive Dissonance and brainwashing will blind them to reality, no matter how sincere they are.
While I believe church attendance for sincere Christians is very important – the coal that falls away from the fire will die – balance and Godly priorities are just as important God, family (and the provision for your family, both in terms of time and money), God’s work. The Christian Church of today needs strong, uncompromising leadership, unpolluted and undiluted, in order to face the heavy satanic onslaught of Western government Liberalism, so when you find a sincere spiritual home, hold tight to it.
“No man – prince, peasant, pope – has all the light, who says else is a mountebank. I claim no private lien on truth, only a liberty to seek it, prove it in debate, and to be wrong a thousand times to reach a single rightness. It is that liberty they fear. They want us to be driven to God like sheep, not running to him like lovers, shouting joy!” ~ Morris West