There are two types of Christians: Those who obey the Lord and those who don’t. Those who don’t are often held in high esteem in church society. Why? Because substance matters little and image is everything?
KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
Most Christians are no different from anyone else in this world. They know that the best way to get ahead and have a better life is go along with whatever program they have ascribed to and never rock the boat. They know leadership will appreciate them much more if they simply never question anything and do all they are told. They are taught that this attitude is the way of the Lord and that the Lord is against all who refuse to toe the mark. Thus, one’s standing in church society is paramount.
The reality is that this is not so much the way of the Lord but the way of those in religious control and those under their sway. It is much easier to control the people who always do what they say and weakly succumb to their leadership.
But no clergyite can control a Spirit-led child of God.
Now, this is a very strange attitude for these people to have. They are supposed to be Christian leaders. This means they must believe in the New Covenant writings and especially the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus. All their sycophants apparently believe this about them. They consider them experts in the Word of God and thus they honor them accordingly. They also believe if they do not honor them accordingly, well then, the Lord will get them and much trouble will transpire in their lives.
But are these people really all that brilliant? The reality is that the vast majority of official clergyites actually do not have much knowledge of the Word of God at all. They claim to but most are not taught of the Lord. Many of them certainly have surface knowledge but most of what they know has been received through the prism of subjective narratives. Rather than ever being taught the pure Word of God without leaven they are instead taught according to their yeasty denominational beliefs or their own limited personal beliefs. Both are lacking and both are prejudicial toward a particular viewpoint. These vaunted people, in other words, are not independently-minded but are also controlled by senior members of their respective hierarchies. They therefore must kowtow. They must pay homage to their religious culture. Their paycheck and religious standing demands it.
OUR REAL EXAMPLE—OUR ONLY EXAMPLE
The best way to gain knowledge of this reality is to simply study the life of the Lord Jesus. No person had ever honored proper religious authority as much as He. He was raised very well. He studied Scripture, like all the youth in His culture and time, from a very early age. As a young Man, He was already extremely well-versed in the Law of Moses, the Hebrew Prophets, and the Writings. He was quiet and obedient. He never caused trouble. He blended in so well no one ever thought of Him in any way but as a dutiful and obedient young Man who brought honor to His parents, family, and community. He was known in His local synagogue but likely never stood out. No one ever suspected He was more than the humble, obscure youth they were vaguely familiar with.
Except His parents. Mary knew. Joseph knew. They experienced clear, miraculous events associated with His birth. The parents of John the Immerser also knew. And Simeon knew:
And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.” And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” [Luke 2:27-35]
Anna also knew:
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth. The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. [Luke 2:36-40] 
But most of Israel then and later knew absolutely nothing about Him and this was also true of those in Nazareth. Next to no one had any spiritual vision. Most had dark hearts. Sound familiar? However, there were sordid rumors from that earlier time that did damage to Mary’s reputation. This is what most had believed. Some remembered and would bring it up on occasion. These rumors would later be used against Him.
I say all this to let everyone know that the Lord Jesus had an impeccable and perfect reputation. He had never sinned. No one had any dirt on Him whatsoever because there was none. He was just a great kid who grew into a perfect young adult. He was the type of child every parent would be proud of. He never rebelled, never caused any problems, always did what He was told, and grew into the epitome of the ideal Hebrew Man.
Yet, somehow or another, none of this mattered when the time came to begin His ministry. In the space of only a couple of months or so He became the most hated Man in Nazareth.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
For those who believe in the false concept that only those with the Lord’s blessing and approval always have abundance, where does that put the apostle Paul? Where does that put Peter and John in the following?
But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” [Acts 3:6]
Would that the majority of Christian ministers had this spiritual power and ability, but they don’t. And they never will because they always put this world above the Lord’s spiritual kingdom. They always put money ahead of spiritual power. Their priority is always funding and having control, instead of more of the Lord Jesus, His love, His spiritual power, and His control.
In reality, putting the Lord Jesus, His kingdom, His righteousness, and one’s obedience to Him first actually does result in abundance, although the term is relative. By having the right priorities, one can have both the spiritual power of God and also be blessed by God materially and financially (to whatever degree He decides is appropriate).
Nevertheless, because the compromised ministers with wrong priorities make up the vast bulk of “ministry,” they also garner the vast bulk of the money.
This also means, of course, that honest ministers with the power and real love of God are in the decided minority. That is not necessarily bad on the surface, but it is when the majority—Unreal Christianity—treats them with contempt, cuts exorbitantly into the general Christian funding pool, and discriminates against them as illegitimate ministers.
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2:9]
Why one cannot see the arrogant me-first outlook on the part of the Christian elite and those with religiously correct social standing most often means such a one is a part of that group—One can’t see the forest for the trees if one is one of the trees.
If one’s top priority is to fit in socially both in church and the community and be financially successful then it is impossible to do the will of God and hence, be blessed by God:
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.
And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:13-15]
There was a time when the apostle Paul openly REBUKED the apostle Peter. Imagine that. Here we have two of the Lord’s very best men who were both used in spiritually tremendous ways. Both were filled with the Spirit of God. Both had been used for great miracles. Yet Paul thought Peter was wrong enough to be rebuked.
What would Paul think of all the current minister frauds of the present? If Paul would rebuke Peter, he would obviously rebuke, and much more severely, all of the money-grubbing elitist frauds who have made money, power, prestige, success, and a perfect outer image their priority. If such people would rebuke their own it would be a great sign, but such never happens.
It is the same with sycophant church boards and congregations who never speak out about the error from within. That means the only rebuke possible must come from without.
It also means that the Lord Jesus never leaves Himself without disciples with a strong and powerful anointing, like the apostle Paul, in any generation.
It means that, for all real Christians, part of their discipleship allows for possible rebuke by God, not for harm, but to insure that His community is strong, healthy, in possession of the full truth, and able to perform spiritually for the benefit of others. Whoever inoculates oneself from this process through the shield of gaining an improper exalted position, wealth, and influence has chosen the wrong path, and without repentance and redirection will lose one’s soul.
The author of the Book of Hebrews said it this way, at first quoting from Proverbs:
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [Hebrews 12:5-8]
In this we see who the real illegitimate children are and exactly why America is in decline: For the most part, spiritual imposters are in control. They have no salt, no light, and no power with God to successfully and effectively fight a spiritual war with evil. As a result, evil has gained the upper hand.
The Lord Jesus knew exactly what the reason for the decline of His own nation was, just as this writing is revealing what is causing America’s decline. The Lord also dealt with it directly in a powerful and confrontational way by exposing the false religionists for who they were and laying the blame exactly where it belonged.
If one seeks the party most responsible for the spiritual decline of America, forget the usual suspects. The reason for the decline is elsewhere. Look no further than the few in charge within Unreal Christianity, since they are the ones with the authority to make the most substantial choices that affect everyone else.
In closing, let’s look once again at the incredible statement of the Lord Jesus, for which this series is titled. All Christians must consider its implications. Its application reaches very far. It is at once a severe rebuke but it also puts things in stark spiritual perspective. All real Christians must learn this truth:
Now the Pharisees,
Who were lovers of money,
Were listening to all these things
And were scoffing at Him.
And He said to them,
“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men,
“But God knows your hearts;
“For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
[Luke 16:14-15] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
THE NON-PROPHET / FOR PROFIT MINISTRY MODEL: That which is Highly Esteemed among Men is Detestable in the Sight of God (2)
“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”
They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication…” [John 8:37-41]
One of the many things the Lord Jesus was falsely accused of by religious people was illegitimacy in both physical birth and ministry calling. Everyone except His own mother and maybe a few others believed he was conceived in a sinful union out of wedlock. It is also apparent that some people thought Joseph was not His real father. Though they were correct, it was certainly not for the reason they thought.
There were many other lies told about Him. He was said to be crazy, demon-possessed, a drunk, a glutton, a false prophet, and a liar. Even with a preponderance of obvious miracles performed by Him, most still did not believe the truth but preferred the lies. Only a relatively small percentage of His own people thought He was who He said He was.
Hence, it was next to impossible for the Lord Jesus to have a good reputation within society in general, even though He is perfect, had never sinned, and never did anything wrong. He kept the Law of Moses perfectly and in the right spirit.
A GOOD REPUTATION WITH GOD OR MEN?
Therefore, rather than personal reputations, the Lord cares much more about correcting whatever keeps people from real discipleship, such as false doctrines, false teachings, false operations, and false set-ups. He cares about removing all the stuff He never put there. It is far better to have a great reputation with the Lord and be thought of as an idiot in the eyes of the world than it is to reject God’s correction and sell out to His enemies.
This presents a problem for the fakers, however, because much of the income in many ministries is tied to such things. Consequently, there is a ton of not-so-good stuff hidden behind the scenes that no one ever sees and the people involved must keep it that way or they will lose funding. It is the same in many churches.
That is why the most important reason no one speaks out about minister frauds is because some of them bring in the greatest amount of cash. The cash not only enriches them, but in a general sense enriches everyone associated with them.
It is the idea of a rising tide raising all ships. It is why so many ministers attempt to get their boat out on that particular body of water even if financial pirates are present. There’s just way too much money and influence to sail away from.
Any churchgoer who pays any attention whatsoever knows that every individual church or ministry has to establish a good reputation and must always defend that reputation. One would think this would be based on fending off lies and otherwise unfounded malicious attacks that arise primarily from unseen evil forces intent on doing damage to a God-founded entity. These could in part be malcontents and disgruntled former members with axes to grind. But such are not the real reason for defensive ministry postures.
Though such spiritual attacks do occur from time to time, most “attacks” are not attacks at all, but simply someone pointing out the sin and error most often found within church leadership. As a result, church leadership has long-since instituted a no-rebuke hierarchical set-up that protects it not only from actual attacks, but also from the Lord’s rebuke.
This non-rebukable, non-accountable, top-of-the-pyramid leadership structure can thus go about its business with no fear of any possible spiritual correction that might harm its outward reputation.
As a result, such non-New Testament leadership models grow ever-corrupt (with pretty faces) in their unceasing quest to dodge necessary correction in order to keep their monetary and worldly success and societal reputations intact—the leaders thereof have gained great esteem in the sight of men but not so with God.
“And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.
“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men…” [Matthew 10:11-17] 
Church leadership learned a long time ago how to circumvent and censor the honest, informed people in their churches who, by the anointing of God and because of their love for the Truth, act as their Lord and Master did when He pointed out the spiritual errors of the religious elites of His time.
Because the majority of that which can be classified as “church leadership” has obvious vested interests in their respective enterprises, they must protect those interests at all costs. What they need are supporters with money, the same way any legitimate business needs clients and customers. They need people who ask no questions, accept everything as presented, and always give as directed.
Most churches and ministries are run like a business. If one disagrees, try doing church as usual with no money.
A business cannot exist unless it has a commodity or product to sell. Good businesses create good products and people are willing to buy said products. Many churches and ministries are actually no different. If they are to exist and be successful they must have a good product that produces a good revenue stream. Without money they are out of business. It is a very simple proposition.
Some ministers are actually honest about this. They know very well the nature of the set-up. They also know, however, that because they are honest they must do things the Lord’s way. They know that whatever money they receive must come with the approval of the Lord Jesus attached to it. They will not ask for money otherwise. They know the entire money issue is never “business as usual.” They know the money they receive as donations or earn through their own labor is due to the Lord’s blessing and approval.
However, many ministers do not follow this clear spiritual protocol. They act like they do, but this acting is the same as all their other acting. They have in fact bought into an act that has been around for centuries. Maybe some of them are deluded, but most know it is a very simple proposition—money will either make them or break them. For them (the vast majority of Christian ministers), money is the solution. Without money they cannot operate or even exist.
The very few honest ministers reject this entire notion. They know it is not Biblical. They know it does not stem from the teachings of the Lord. They know the Lord has called them to a specific work and as long as they draw breath they will do that work come hell or high water, whether they have any money or not.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued.]
God is not so interested in how a sinful world perceives His children. It seems as though He is not so interested in our credibility. He will probably not bless our attempt to become a successful and respectable member of society. If one is already a solid secular citizen within one’s chosen social and business circle, as opposed to being a member in good standing within His kingdom, it was most likely achieved without His help.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]
The word “lose” in the above passage is from a Greek word that means to utterly destroy. In other words, to save one’s life one must destroy one’s life. One must destroy the old before the new can come forth. Demolition precedes construction. Winter precedes spring. Night precedes the dawn. One must die before one can be born again. Real repentance is as death. The second birth is a resurrection. Without a new birth, one will die in their sins and both body and soul will be destroyed in hell. 
The glorification of sinful flesh is not one of the Lord’s priorities. There are people who become very successful in this life without any of God’s help. They strive and achieve only to leave it all behind at death. Imagine the people who lost their homes and livelihoods recently in the northeastern floods and Texas fires. These are terrible tragedies. But death is often like that, in that everything a person has ever built, accumulated, and worked for remains behind within the tiny closed parameters of this physical world.
You cannot take it with you. Wealthy people don’t have a Brink’s truck following their hearse to their gravesite. And while we are in this material realm, anything we may possess is subject to loss.
The best way to protect your stuff is to give it to God. Let Him have control. Subject it to His authority. He may tell you to get rid of some stuff. He may tell you to keep this and that. He may instruct you to give stuff away. But one thing is certain: Whatever He may want you to keep, you will keep; at least until it is time to let it go.
Isn’t this a better way to live? Isn’t this exactly how the Lord Jesus taught us we must live? If we can’t take it with us, why do we insist on clutching onto all our stuff and our own authority in the present?
It is the same with our reputations. We often spend years building up reputations that later come apart in an instant, sometimes through no fault of our own. If our reputation is based on being an honest person, not much of it will be lost. But honest people tell the truth, and that means they even tell the truth about themselves. They don’t hide their faults and shortcomings. They are humble. They know they often come up short against standing societal mores and spiritual directives, but are more interested in being honest and trying to get better than securing a fake resume inflated like a hot air balloon.
It is such false biographies and fake reputations that eventually blow up and come crashing down. All things phony bite the dust. Only the real survives. And only the real, based on God’s definition of the term, makes a successful trip into eternity. As our foundational example, consider the life of the greatest Man who ever lived:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:1-8] 
For the real Christian, he or she belongs to God. And that includes all our stuff. It also includes our credibility. It includes anything we may be and anything He wants us to be. In this light, it makes little spiritual sense to hoard up a bunch of stuff, whether material or not, that might in all probability be weighing us down and grounding us to this world.
The Bible clearly states that real Christians are not of this world. The Lord Jesus is not of this world. We are supposed to be born again OUT of this world and INTO His kingdom. So who cares what anybody else may think? The Lord certainly didn’t care what others thought about Him. He was on a mission, He would not be stopped, and the world was only doing what came naturally when trying to destroy Him in any way it could. He caught it from everyone, including His own nation, friends, and family. Rather than recognizing Him as God, this is how almost everyone actually perceived Him:
Because He drank wine, He was thought to be a common drunk. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He ate the same food as everyone else, He was thought to be a glutton. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He reached out to the lost, He was thought to be an associate of sinners. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because there were serious questions about His birth, He was thought to be illegitimate. [John 8:41]
Because everyone else was stupid and dense, He was thought to be insane. [Mark 3:21]
Because He had spiritual abilities no one else had, He was thought to be demon-possessed. [Mark 3:22, 30]
Because He humbly downplayed who He really was, He was thought to be a nobody. [Matthew 13:54-56]
Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not care about a worldly reputation. His focus was on doing the will of the Father and accomplishing His purpose. This should be our focus as well. When we drift from this, should we wonder why the Lord does not seem to care about the things we hold most dear? If one decides to live for God, one will be persecuted. People will think you’ve gone off the deep end. They will hate you, think you’re crazy, call you every name in the book, and run your name into the ground.
If you consider yourself to be a real Christian and these things are not happening in your life, you better check your oil. The more a believer attacks the gates of hell to rescue the lost and reveal truth, the more the enemy will fight. If one is not in the fight, one is not with the Lord and the Lord is not with him. If one is more concerned with one’s worldly reputation or comfort level than serving the Lord, one has little spiritual reputation and is no threat to the devil.
And though the unbelieving world hates real Christians, the adversary is well aware of his enemies. They are known in hell: The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Matthew 10:28
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
 Acts 19:15 NKJV