Don't Be A Closet Heathen

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I suppose the first time I ever heard the word heathen other than church was when Aunt Esther on the hit television show Sanford and Son called Fred Sanford one. It seems I even remember her calling Fred a “heathen reprobate.”

In the scripture, the Greek word for heathen appears in the scriptures 164 times in 152 verses. . .and in 157 of those occasions the word appears as gentiles or nations.

According to Strong’s Concordance the Greek word for heathen means:

“a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together; a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus.”

According to the Random House Dictionary the word heathen means:

“an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible; a pagan; an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person.”

The word irreligious is defined by as:

“showing indifference or hostility to religion.”

Showing indifference to the Word of God. . .could also be interpreted as not caring to obey His instructions.

Here are seven ways heathens masquerade as Christians.

1.      Not tithing

If you’re sitting in the pew Sunday after Sunday without tithing. . .then you’re a heathen masquerading as a Christian.

No excuses. . .no alibis.

Malachi 3:8-9 says:

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”

That seems pretty straightforward to me. . .the Word says that if we are not tithing, we are robbing God.

If we aren’t giving offerings . . . we are robbing God.

I guess this is a good place for me to ask you a question.

Are you a consistent tither?

Has there ever been a time when you didn’t tithe or stopped tithing for a short period of time?

If a person, a robber, takes what doesn’t belong to him even once in a while, does that make him any less of a thief?

If the robber only steals when he/she wants or needs money, does that make them any less of a thief?

Of course not. Christians who make excuses why they can sit in church and not tithe could be described as heathens.

And for the record, the designer clothes sitting in your closet or the new car in your driveway or the High Def Flat Panel TV in your living rooms. . .are the kind of things heathens invest in. . .instead of the Word of God.

2.      Talking down leadership or those in authority

Acts 23:5 in the New Living Translation says:

“I’m sorry, brothers. I didn’t realize he was the high priest,” Paul replied, “for the Scriptures say, ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.”

The Contemporary English Version of Acts 23:5 says:

“. . .The Scriptures do tell us not to speak evil about a leader of our people."

What does that mean to you?

If you want to fully understand the dangers of talking about leadership. . .even in your own family. . .read the tragedy of Absalom, King David’s rebellious son. (2 Samuel chapters 13 through 18).

Or read the story of Miriam and Aaron when they spoke against Moses (in Numbers chapter 12.)

My purpose in this teaching is to point out the inherent dangers in a rebellious spirit.

In reading 2 Samuel chapters 13 through 18 you will discover that Absalom developed a distrust of authority . . .he thought the authority of his father, the King, was incompetent and weak.

It may be that the five pounds of hair he wore around. . .affected his ability to remember and think about the commandments of God.

Am I being serious. . .yes, about how much his hair weighed but it’s not likely it affected his love for God or lack of it. However, I will say this Absalom must have had a huge ego because the scripture points out how people spoke of his beauty and handsome nature.

Behind the charming good looks lived a driven man who had hidden contempt and hatred of his father’s authority over him. The Absalom Spirit is highly destructive to the person who has it and all the people around it.

I’m going to underline and put in bold type this next statement because it’s so important to your future success.

If you don’t know how to live under authority. . .you will never be given much authority.

One more thing about authority. It’s easy to be under authority when things are going well for you. . .but the real measure of your obedience to authority comes when you disagree with those over you.

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.”   1 Peter 2:13-17 MSG

We cannot account for what anyone else does, but we will give an account for everything we think, say and do. Understand this. . .authority is important to God.

And the moral of this story. . .never talk about those in leadership positions above you. Obey the law. Pray for them and then let God handle the situation.

3.      Not believing God will do what He says He will do.

If I were to ask you what you would say is the most important verse in the Bible. . .you would probably say John 3:16.

Truthfully, while that’s important. . .it has to be built off of trust in God’s word.

Numbers 23:19 in the Amplified Bible says:

“God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?”

Fact # 1     God can’t lie.

Jeremiah 1:11 in the Message Bible says:

“God's Message came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?" I said, "A walking stick—that's all." And God said, "Good eyes! I'm sticking with you. I'll make every word I give you come true."

Fact # 2     Every word. . .every promise He has ever given you will come true.

Genesis 28:13 in the Message Bible says:

“Then God was right before him, saying, "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I promised you."

Fact # 3     God will stick with you through thick and thin. . .till His promises come in.

You must believe that God will do what He says He will do regardless of your current circumstances or even what you perceive the consequences to be.

When you obey. . .without hesitation. . .your future is set.

Consider what the angel said to Mary in The Message Bible translation of Luke 1:45 which says:

“Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!”

4.      Being a stealth sinner.

If you’ve ever said to yourself. . .nobody is looking. . .nobody will ever know. . .my secret is safe. . .then without question. . .you’re going to end up being the biggest fool you know.

Mark 4:22 in the New Living Translation says:

“For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.”

If you’re visiting websites you shouldn’t then you should know those url’s (locations) will stay in your computer even if you delete or erase them.

The impressions. . .the keystrokes. . .and cookies never leave your computer. They may not be visible but they’re there. All it takes is for someone to scan the hard drive.

Not only does your computer retain the path of your little secret. . .but so does your mental hard drive and those images are even harder to get rid of.

When you allow negative or sinful thoughts to enter your thought processes. . .an impression is made much like the digital impression on a computer.   Depending on how active you are in renewing your mind will determine whether or not. . .those thoughts re-enter your thought processes.

If you allow yourself to feed on anything that exalts itself above the knowledge of God and His Word. . .then you’re a stealth sinner. . .trying to hide what can’t be covered up.

It doesn’t matter if you lead the choir. . .teach in Sunday School. . .serve on the Board of Elders or any other position for that matter. . .if you are not practicing the principles of the Christian walk but instead allowing something other than God to take hold of you…you need to know it will take you down the pathway of becoming a stealth sinner one step at a time.

The Contemporary English Version of Mark 4:22 says:

“There is nothing hidden that will not be made public. There is no secret that will not be well known.”

5.      Putting down your spouse or anyone else for that matter.

I’m just going to deal with people who put their spouses down in front of others or behind their backs.

When you get married. . .you become one flesh with your spouse. . .in much more than sexual intimacy.

If you chastise your mate . . .if you put them down. . . you are actually doing the same thing to yourself.

Genesis 2:24 says:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Make no mistake about it. . .there are spiritual consequences when you embarrass your spouse. . .when you speak down to them. . .or abuse them verbally.

You are in fact . . .doing harm to yourself.

Ephesians 5:29-33 in the Message Bible sums up the relationship between a husband and a wife.

“No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.”

I have a friend. . .a very smart man. . .who continually puts down his wife in front of other people. She just takes it even though she is every bit as smart as he is.

When he puts her down in front of others. . .he is actually lowering others people’s opinion of him. . .not her.

I mentioned this to him once. . . and he didn’t take it too well. That’s why he’s just an acquaintance instead of a very good friend.

By mentioning this unflattering behavioral habit to him . . .I’ve done what’s right in God’s sight because I warned him of something that would hurt him. How he responds to my observations is between him and God.

“Yea, but Brother Harold, you don’t know my wife.”

That’s right, I don’t know her, but God does. . .if you begin to treat your wife the way Christ treats His bride, the church, you will witness the most amazing transformation you’ve ever witnessed. . .an extreme makeover from a heathen to a fruit producing believer. And guess what? It starts with you.

6.      Taking the credit for what God has done for you.

If it weren’t for God. . .you wouldn’t be thinking, breathing or even living.

John 10:10 in the New Living Translation says:

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

You’ve got what you’ve got. . .because He’s entrusted it to you.

Romans 12:3 in the Message Bible says:

“I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”

Always remember who gave you the opportunity to be successful.

2 Corinthians 2:12 in the New Living Translation says:

“When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.”

And by the way, whether you’ve taken advantage of that opportunity or not. . .is not the point. . .He’s given you the opportunity. . .what you’ve done with it is your gift back to Him. Make it good.

Always remember. . .why you are where you are. . .and who gave you life (eternal and abundant) along with a vision for your future.

If you continually remember and honor God for what He’s doing for you then you will always keep your success in a proper and scriptural perspective.

Psalm 35:28 in the Amplified Bible offers some pretty good advice:

“And my tongue shall talk of Your righteousness, rightness, and justice, and of [my reasons for] Your praise all the day long.”

Let me also give you a word of caution about what happens when you fail to remember the One who brought you to the dance.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 in the New Living Translation says:

“If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.”

If you don’t praise Him. . .then you will be exposed as a heathen masquerading as a Christian.

7.      Being stuck in a comfort zone.

Your comfort zone is an enemy of your future. . .a hindrance to your success. . .a stumbling block to your destiny.

If you stay in your comfort zone. . .you will never leave nor surpass your current reality.

Several months back, I wrote “Seven Ways To Escape Your Comfort Zone.” I strongly encourage you to visit search for this blog and read it several times. I consider it to have destiny-changing revelation.

However, in this teaching I want to briefly discuss one thing that tends to keep people from leaving their comfort zone. It’s FEAR.

If you don’t face your fears. . .they will keep growing.

If you don’t face what you perceive to be your inadequacies. . .they’ll be magnified.

If you’re wondering what people will think if you fail in your new endeavor. . .you’re worried about the wrong person.

You need to be more concerned about what God thinks than anybody else in your hood.

Mark 7:8-10 in the New International Version says:

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

There comes a point. . .a time when you have to realize that what you’ve been doing is not working. . .and you need to let go. . .shake up. . .change what you’ve been doing and do something else.

I can tell you that every heathen you know. . .if you know any. . . (smiling). . .will try to keep you locked inside your comfort zone. But it’s time for you to break free.