Do not follow
People have long imitated the sins of others. Satan is in the attraction to be like those around us. If he can draw us to the sins of the multitudes or the nations or the denominations, he can pull us away from God.
Early on, the nation of Israel wanted to be like the nations. The Lord chastised them for it, because he had called them to be a light to the nations. But they didn’t learn their lesson. Even at the last, they still gave in to the temptation.
Jeremiah, in the closing years of Judah’s existence as a nation, before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, still had to make an appeal to distinguish themselves as God’s people.
“The Lord says, ‘Do not start following pagan religious practices. Do not be in awe of signs that occur in the sky even though the nations hold them in awe’” (Jeremiah 10:2 NET).
The pagan nations attributed religious and spiritual meaning to the signs in the sky. To many in Israel, their false explanations were convincing. The Israelites still worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they also admitted pagan gods into their worship.
The church suffers the same temptation. Many congregations have not learned the hard lessons from Israel. They follow the idolatrous practices of the denominations. They adopt unbiblical strategies and practices in order to gain acceptance and capture greater numbers. For such gods they abandon the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
It would seem to be a reasonable, level-headed approach not to disparage or criticize such churches. Departures are characterized as just doing things differently in order to meet the needs of the times. But Israel had its justifications as well, none of which passed muster with the Lord.
Jeremiah knew that the essence of compromise was idolatry. Syncretism mixed error with truth. The light of God was extinguished by embracing pagan explanations for God’s creation, by welcoming foreign perspectives as a part of the divine plan. Today, the church surrenders its position as God’s agent in the world when it compromises the truth.
Under the guise of greater understanding and unity, such efforts as World Convention purport to bring churches together. They are nothing more, however, than Satan’s appeal to faithful churches to abandon commitment to the New Testament pattern of the gospel.
Either the truth of the gospel about the church, worship, mission, and faith are true and must be maintained, or such doctrines are dispensable because they are an impediment to religious unity.
There is no middle ground. Nothing in common. No basis for conversation. There is nothing to say to those whose commitment is to compromise.
For we will not be in awe of pagan explanations.