The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian’ Elders that ravenous wolves would arise amongst themselves and to be on guard for the flock. But what if the Elders decide to ignore the apparent problem? They rationalize it’s a small matter. They think it will go away. They think he’s only one person and we will keep the balance of “power”. But soon, without the Elders realizing it, a lot of new members have entered the church and they are coincidentally of the same mind as the lone, ravenous wolf. Then new Elders are put forward and one or more of them is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Soon the church will be destroyed. It’s all to do with really bad choices and it’s on the basis of fear.
How does the church lose its way? By ignoring sin in the camp. It’s just a little bit. But the sin of one begins to make some lose confidence in the Elders. And the sin, “it’s just a little bit”, begins to influence others to have a little bit of sin in their lives. The little bit of sin becomes, sooner or later, something permeating the entire church, 1 Cor. 5. It’s all to do with fear of confronting real sin in the church. The church must be vigilant to address sin that’s happening in the camp, (learn the lesson from Achan, Joshua 7).
How does the church go from being an awesome, vibrant church into just another “celebration” denomination where worship has become a party? By not clinging to the Word of God. God’s Word gives us the pattern to follow. The pattern examples of the Bible are vital and essential to the healthy church remaining unified. Preacher and Elders and spiritual men and ladies had better be ready to strap on the armor to fight the good fight of The Faith when they see someone enter the church who makes assertions and claims that cannot be established in Scripture. Faithful Christians know that if it isn’t exemplified in Scripture, then it is forbidden for the life and worship of the church. It is the wolves and the leaven in our midst who will argue, and fool a few, that whatever is not specifically forbidden is allowed to be incorporated into the life and worship of the church. The latter was the attitude of Martin Luther and you see the inventions he and others like him brought into the church following that principle. We must cling to the Word of God if we are to remain the vibrant, united, and loving church of Christ. Cowards need to know they must join the fight of The Faith or else they will be a hindrance. There’s no sitting on the sidelines in these matters.
How does the church go from being the New Testament church to just another denomination? By losing the best and most spiritual members because they left when they could not longer be a part of a place where the Leaders are too cowardly and fearful of putting a stop to the wolves and false teachers and the practicers of sin. These cowardly choices do not happen in a vacuum. They happen in and to the church. And the godly members who lament the apparent acceptance of a little sin will only stick around so long. They leave. And no vacuum remains empty. Who will fill the vacuum? Weak Christians? Wolves? Poor cowardly Leaders? All of the above and more BUT not strong Christians. The Elders who thought they could tolerate a little bit of sin or that they could have an Elder or two who were not of the same mind because they reasoned they would keep the balance of power have learned that the balance has tipped away from them. Now the once conservative Elders either change their minds and accept the false teachings and sin or else they die off and get replaced by the liberal-minded wolf.
All of this change happened because way back, ten or twenty years ago, the Leaders did not address sin. They were afraid to confront. They might lose a “valuable” member who might only be better with time. They were not concerned about sin as they should be and allowed a little sin to fester. Well now look what the wound of sin has become! I have personally witnessed strong congregations become liberal congregations. These are in Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, but it happens everywhere. As long as we are alive we must never ever let this happen on our watch.