There are many things people seek in religion today. Some look for the church with the most parking spaces or the most elegant building. Some look for a place to display their clothing, or for a place where the preacher will not preach very long or hard. Some think the elders and preachers give the congregation a hard time by being anti-modernistic a n d trying to teach the word of God as it should he taught. (Of course, such faithful brethren will not be very popular with the younger generation).
It is said one colored preacher told his congregation that one fifth of them wore out the knees of their trousers praying while the other four-fifths wore out the seat of their trousers backsliding. The same is true today. In many ways, we can deny Christ just as Peter did. Many of us condemn Peter for his action, but we do the same thing in our every day walks of life. We are going to be held responsible for teaching the pure word of God. If we fail in this, then I’m afraid the younger generation and the following one will have plenty of parking spaces, be long on air conditioning and very short on sermons and the practice of a pure religion.
When we surrender to the will of Christ and obey his word, the Lord forgives our sins and purifies our souls like that of a newborn baby. Jesus can’t keep sin out of our lives – we must do this in manifesting the fruits of repentance. He told the sinful woman to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Again we read, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; purify your hearts ye double minded” (Jas. 4:8). The responsibility for a change in our conduct and character is ours. We must change. Christ can’t clean up our sinful lives while we continue in evil doing. He has promised to aid, guide and sustain us, but the actual obligation of refusing to sin is ours. Let us here note some things Christ is unable to do for us.
He Can’t Purify Our Bodies While Our Hearts Are Evil
Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21). Sin that is made evident in the actions of the body has actually had its origination in our minds. The intellect of man is responsible for his sins. If we would possess bodies that are clean and pure, we must first clean up the inner man. If we would speak words that are sound and “cannot be condemned,” we must be sure that speech emanates from a clean heart, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). Whoever thinks evil long will soon find himself saying or doing evil. Thus Paul admonishes Christians to think on things that are honest, just, true, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Christ can’t control our thoughts, nor can He make our lives to be in contrast with that which we think on.
Christ Can’t live Our Lives for Us
Christianity is a doing religion. Jesus went about doing good to others, and we are commanded to “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22). Pure religion includes helping those in need and keeping oneself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:21). The Lord is not going to pay our debts, give our money to the poor, force us to help the feeble and downtrodden. Pure religion does not consist in what He does for us, but what we do for Him and His.
Jesus can’t make us honest, benevolent, helpful, zealous and kindhearted. Yet, those are all attributes He requires of us. He will not perform a miracle on the bank to keep our credit good, nor does the banker investigate the record of Christ to determine our credit rating. Again, Jesus does not remove the food in our pantry and give it to the poor, nor does he reach into our pockets to relieve the beggar. The widow and orphan are not sustained by a miracle from heaven, nor does the Lord make the beds, wash sheets, clean blankets, etc. so we can have a bed to give to the unfortunate. The fevered brow of the sick is not touched with a cool, damp cloth from heaven. The feeble and downtrodden are not sustained and encouraged by a special guardian angel sent to them by some miraculous means. Christ came to do the will of the Father, and did it perfectly, but He can’t do for us what God has given as our own responsibilities.
He Can’t Make a Good Worker Out of the Unwilling
Jesus can’t make a good teacher out of the unprepared, because one must first be a student before he can become a scholar. The Lord can’t make a good personal worker of one who won’t speak to people about the truth, just like he can’t make a good bishop out of one who does not desire to thus serve. He can’t make a preacher out of the unwilling to speak, nor a good song leader of one who just will not sing. Jesus can’t even make a good janitor of one who won’t sweep, or a good deacon of one who is not eager to be a servant of men.
He Can’t Preach the Gospel to the World
The Lord committed the charge of preaching the gospel to us, and if we fail to preach it, it just won’t be preached at all (2 Tim. 2:2). But, just as Christ can’t do the physical job of preaching the gospel to lost souls, neither can he take money from our pockets and put it into the contribution basket to supply the support of those who do get out and preach the word of God. We must supply those funds ourselves if the work of the Lord is to be carried out.
We are preaching daily by how we live and what we do for the cause of Christ. In the day of judgment, the millions who will face the Lord unprepared will not point the accusing finger at Jesus, for He has done everything He could. But, unless we have been faithful in our various duties and efforts to teach the lost, they will accuse us, and justly.
Truth Magazine, VI: 3, pp. 16-17