Fruit of the Church
“And as they did not study to have knowledge of God, God delivered them to a worthless mind to do what is not lawful, being filled with all kinds of unrighteousness, wickedness, greediness, and evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and meanness. They are gossipers, slanderers, and haters of God. They are insolent, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, and disobeyers of parents. They are without understanding, covenant breakers, without affections, and without mercy. They know the decrees of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do them, but also approve of those who do them.”
If one is to judge a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:16), then the fruit of idolatry in a culture is unrighteousness, wickedness, greediness, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, meanness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, pride, boasting, inventing evil, disobeying of parents, lacking understanding, covenant breaking, lacking affections, lacking mercy, and approving of these things in others. As to our culture: guilty as charged. As to much of the church in America: guilty as charged. The fruit of our culture is bad enough but when the fruit of the church reflects the fruit of the culture we have a major problem that needs to be rectified. And, while at times, reform can be brought from within, there is also a point in time when one must “come out of her lest you take part in her sins” (Revelation 18:4, alluding to Isaiah 48:20).
The Belgic confession drives this point home in Article 28, where it reads: “It is the duty of all believers, according to the Word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church and to join themselves to this congregation [namely the True Church], wheresoever God has established it.” The True Church, in principle, is referred to in this article as “the assembly of those who are saved.” How can light have fellowship with darkness, Truth with error, righteousness with evil? For the wellbeing of our souls, we must align ourselves with Christ’s church and not with the parodies of it that are so prevalent in society.
Remaining in such a place is at best to content oneself with spiritual mediocrity for the same of what? Tradition? A fancy building to which you are partial? Habit? Safety? Friendships? Fancy dinners? Personalities? All of these are likely answers that would have been given by the people of Laodicea. Yet, when the years of accumulated dust of the false church is finally kicked off the feet, one will discover just how encumbered we were while wearing those old muddy boots. In doing so, one can leave behind the stench of the rotten food described above and taste (maybe for the first time!) fruit that is healthy, good, ripe, and in season for the church. And, while it is true that even the True Church has to face its problems when sin raises its ugly head; when said sin is pointed out, it will be confessed, repented of, and put away; such is not the case of the False Church.
So, as Peter says, judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). Start with self-judgment so that you may not be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31) and separate yourself from the fruit of idolatry that is so prevalent in the pseudo-church all around us.