As I look around each day and see so many people out there claiming to be born-again, children of God, Christians, Gospel ministers, pastors or bishops, as I observe their lifestyles, and the things they propagate and endorse, the inevitable question I am forced to ask is: where then are the sinners and unbelievers? Indeed, if all these people, whose nearly every conduct and preoccupation constitute grave offence to God are all “Christians,” “born-again,” and “men of God,” then I can confidently bet you that non-Christians and unbelievers no longer exist! The clear demarcation between the two camps may have since collapsed. Everything has been muddled up, and there is confusion everywhere, to the juicy delight of the devils -- although, in the midst of the confusion, those holding on to the genuine thing are not ready to let go!
Now, the devil has one major objective in this world, namely, to stop multitudes of people from having genuine experience of salvation from sin, living worthy Christian lives in this world like the Apostles did, and making heaven at last. Having forever lost his place in heaven due to pride and rebellion, he is so desperate to get so many people to suffer the eternal torments of hell with him. No matter whatever else he does in this world, he does not lose sight of this singular objective which is very dear to his murky heart. He pursues it with unequalled dedication, resilience and meticulousness, and appears to succeed so marvelously, whenever and wherever he succeeds in making people indifferent, oblivious or doubtful of his activities and definite mission.
The devil’s savage battles with believers has raged for ages, but, seeing that he has not made much progress with frontal confrontations, he has added a more subtle, but much more insidious strategy. This time, what he has embarked upon is mass-production of counterfeits and parodies. These counterfeits may look every bit like the genuine one, but they are not. Only those with scanty knowledge of, or indifferent to, God’s standards as revealed in the Bible are hoodwinked and entrapped. And many, most unfortunately, are today!
The major attraction of these counterfeits is that they offer “made-easy” and “modern” Christianity to all and sundry. They do not offer solution to the problem of sin and worldliness. They instead sanction, rationalize or even justify them; they simplify everything and offer limitless freedom, so much so, that even after a night of sexual immorality and sundry sins, one can still enter the Church the next morning, and “speak in tongues”, do “miracles,” and deliver wonderful “sermons”.
The other day, I stumbled on an interview with a certain Ms. Gloria Doyle, who I understand is a musician or something. The interview was published in Saturday Independent, February 25, 2006. Even on a whore, the dress she was wearing would still be considered extremely indecent. Indeed, if you were working in a reputable company and you tried to download those photographs of Ms. Doyle’s on your system, your network would, no doubt, filter them as nudity, and you could be reprimanded by your employers. But then, here was this lady, in this Jezebelic outfit, claiming to be a “Gospel artist”, and declaring that she used her music to “win (read: damn) souls.” What do these people really understand by the Gospel and “soul-winning”? What do they really take God for?
Ms. Doyle also claimed in that interview that she is a Gospel minister, spirit-filled, speaks in tongues, lays hands on people, and prays for them in her Church. Then the reporter asked her whether she endorses fornication, that is, pre-marital sex, and she said yes. In their Church, she said, it is not that they endorse promiscuity, but when a boy and girl are in a serious relationship which they believe would most likely to lead to marriage, they can go ahead wallowing in sexual immorality. For her, that is the real meaning of courtship. When the reporter asked her what would happen if the boy dumps the girl after he had had his fun, she replied that life is full of risks!
The final question Ms. Doyle took from the reporter was this:
Reporter: “Once in a while you need male attention intimately, how do you handle such?”
Doyle: “I have intimate friends and when the need arises, we will find solution to it”
So, am I to take it that this one, too, is a “Christian” and “minister of the Gospel,” and whatever she does tomorrow would provide incentive for some people who are totally ignorant of the meaning and practice of Christianity to cast aspersions on the most holy faith? Ms. Doyle, a divorcee, had told the reporter that the legacy she would want to leave behind is for people to be saying after she had gone: “She was a renowned woman of God.” Indeed, other “women of God” like her abound in the world today, damning the souls of men and women and attracting a smear to the most holy faith. I was totally appalled at the way she was dishing out those hell-guaranteeing blasphemies with amazing authoritativeness. Make no mistake about it: if tomorrow you hear that she is “performing miracles” in one corner of the city, multitudes will throng her services. That is the world we are in today. But God’s Word in 2Timothy 2:19 is clear: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that His. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
The point I am making is that if you are “born-again” and the experience was not able to kill the appetite for sin in your life, then, you may have got the fake version. You must investigate what you think you have; either you have lost what you once had, or you never had it in the first place. Something cannot be new and old at the same time. (2Corithians 5:17). Conversion means, changing something from what it was, to something entirely new and different. It is real, and many people have experienced it. If you do not have it, you do not have it, no matter what your posh-speaking pastor may be saying to you to assuage your mind, in order to retain you.
I have heard some people say: I am a Christian, but I am not born-again. That is a huge contradiction. Just like someone saying: I am a physician, but I did not go to medical school! You are either a Christian or not, no matter the name you bear, and the Church you attend. In Ezekiel 36:26, God promises to give us a new heart and new spirit, after taking away our old heart. That was exactly what Jesus was telling Nicodemus, a prominent religious leader, in John Chap. 3. Jesus had told him that he must be born-again, if he must inherit the Kingdom of God. The aim is for the person to regain the original nature with which Adam was created (in the image and likeness of God) which he lost when he sinned against God.
You see, because of this nature (not the sin he committed) that we inherited from Adam, the first man, the natural man is always full of sinful desires, which make him to indulge even in some things he dislikes. Many are trapped in very dangerous habits today because of this depraved, Adamic nature we were all born with. (In Romans 7:14-17, Paul relates his own experience in this regard). We can’t help ourselves out of this situation, but when we sincerely repent of our sins, and invite Jesus into our lives, He will come in to destroy this sinful nature, and as we continue to live for Him in daily communion and fellowship, we are able to maintain that which we have received, and nurture it.
As this world winds up with incredible speed, the Church is fighting a big battle against the confusion the devil has unleashed in the body of Christ, to blindfold men and women, keep them entrapped in places of false religious teachings, and damn their souls eventually. Too many people are preaching too many strange things these days, and yet performing astounding miracles. It took the T.B. Joshua/Chris Oyakhilome open and undenied ministerial romance the otehr day to alert us to the extent of the enemy’s infiltration, and the seriousness he attaches to this business of misleading the unwary. It was in Nigeria also that a “Church” was openly accused of receiving a huge sum of money said to have been stolen by a staff of a prominent hotel in Lagos, and the Church’s “miracle-working”, fashionable, “modern” posh-speaking “pastor” did not deem it healthy to quickly isolate and denounce the action and culprit and return the money immediately. Yet despite these clearly ungodly stance on a matter as grievous as this, human beings still throng the place. Most pitiably, these hapless people lack the discernment to discover that there must be something terribly suspicious about this show of power without purity. It has even been reported that thugs that guard some “pastors” have beaten up some people at some places in Lagos. What about that? Well, only recently, a certain preacher was told that he was in serious error, and he fired back: if really I am in error, why am I still able to perform miracles?
A naïve question, if you ask me. Maybe, this preacher may have to go back to the Scriptures and read Jesus’ account of what would happen on the last day (see Matthew 7: 22-23): “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
The truth is that the devil is not bothered by whatever you are doing and number of miracles you are performing, so long he is assured that you are living in error, and that you will join him in hell eventually. The “miracles” you are performing are serving a great purpose for him. It is helping to blindfold people, and hinder them from seeing the ungodly pre-occupations you may be wallowing in. Jesus had warned us that we should distinguish false preachers by the fruits (of unrighteousness) they manifest (and not the gifts they are able to flaunt). They devil can perform miracles too. Have we forgotten the case of Pharaoh’s magicians in the Old Testament and Simon the Sorcerer in Acts Chap 8? These two were miracle workers, but they were not children of God.
Now, all these female Rev. Bishops and Pastors laying hands on people and praying for them with micro-minis, body-hugging clothes that emphasize their delicate parts, and low-neck blouses with boobs threatening to spill out, so they are also worshipping the holy God? The strangest thing I have seen in this age is the futile attempt by people to worship a holy God in a most ungodly and unholy manner. Some “pastors” of “modern churches” encourage their members to wear horribly revealing dresses to Church (weddings have turned into breast exhibitions!), and some men in the Church have been seduced by these ungodly displays and lusted in their hearts, while some others have gone to commit fornication, after ogling them. All happening in a place they claim is the house of the holy God! Now, Jesus’ word that a man who looks at a woman to lust after her, has committed fornication with her in his heart, also has some implications for women. If a woman, by her revealing dress seduces men into immoral thoughts and acts, she too is guilty of the same sin. It takes two to commit fornication. Moreover, Jesus’ words that whoever causes one of those people that believe him to offend, that it would better that a milestone is hung on the person’s neck and he dumped into the sea, is one of the most popular Scriptural verses.
Unfortunately, many of the people we call pastors and preachers today are mere motivational speakers who just manage to spice up their lectures with some Scripture verses. Others are mere magicians in active business. They hardly know anything about how a man can be saved from sin and prepared for the coming of Christ. In fact, that is even not in their agenda. But the consolation is that before the trumpet sounds, God, in answer to the prayers of His genuine children, will overthrow many places of false religious practices and rescue the multitudes trapped there by miracle exhibitions or teachings about Godless prosperity.
In that vein, the recent predicament of the General Overseer, of one prayer house in Ajao Estate, Lagos, Nigeria, His Holiness, Most Honourable Dr. Rev. King, can only be seen as the move of God to clean the augean stable. There are several others like him out still there doing their thing. Very soon, the east wind of the Lord will equally reach their dark crannies to blow them out, and not only expose them for what they are, but cause them to close shop and leave town. It is a matter of time.
Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, a Journalist and Commentator on Public Issues, is Editor-In-Chief and Head of the Editorial Unit of a Publishing Outfit in Lagos, Nigeria. He was on the Editorial Board of Independent (www.independentngonline.com), a national newspaper published in Lagos, Nigeria, where he wrote a column (SCRUPLES) on the back page of the paper every Wednesday. His articles have appeared in several newspapers, magazines and journals in Nigeria, Africa, Europe and the United States. They area also available on his blog: www.ugowrite.blogspot.com and in several internet media sites. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye studied English at the University of Port Harcourt and received a Master's degree in Literature in English at the University of Ilorin.