Idolizing people has forever been the norm in the world. Sadly, the church is catching up, and fast.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)For as long as any of us can remember, adoration of celebrities, athletes and others in the public eye has been rampant in our society. Kids and adults alike are endeavoring to become Instagram and YouTube famous. The red carpet, paparazzi life is the dream for many. Others are satisfied being awestruck and starstruck. Yes, this article is about people worship, but it's not really about the run-of-the-mill movie star fantasy. I'm going to take it a level deeper.
BOTH THE WORLD AND THE CHURCH ARE GUILTY
The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ESV)Looking beyond the glitz and glamour we will discover a wicked and brilliant strategy of the enemy to exalt mankind, and, in process, destroy all who are seduced. Our current generation, both the lost and the redeemed, has elevated mere humans into a status just south of deity. Tolerance has been the mantra of our secular society for the last decade. This demonic game plan has been wildly successful as what was once clearly an abomination has been established as normal and protected. People who embrace deviant ideologies are not only guarded but promoted. The argument is that people are supreme and their lifestyles, no matter what the Word of God has to say on the matter, are valid. In the church we see the same mindset manifesting in a different way. For many, evangelism has shifted in recent years from calling people out of sin to communicating how wonderful they are. Again, the focus is on their supposed value as opposed to their hopelessness and depraved state. The message is simply, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The Gospel message, however, is much more comprehensive—and confrontational—than that. Would Jesus have died for a single person? I believe he would have. I believe his desire is to be in relationship with us and it grieves him deeply when people reject that invitation. That being said, we have to understand that it's not about our value. It's God's value that should be driving the conversation.
OUR GAZE MUST SHIFT
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17 (ESV)It's time we shift our gaze from the mirror to the throne. Or, at least clearly see just what the mirror is revealing when we are self-focused instead of gazing upon the glory of God. Nakedness. Blindness. Wretchedness. The world doesn't know God, so it makes sense, as sad and maddening as it is, that they are given to self-worship and to idolizing people. We as the church should know better. Have you noticed how worship songs have changed in recent years? Instead of mostly being about the greatness of God, so many are choruses to the wonder of mankind. The beautiful music can turn ugly quite fast when hands are lifted and eyes are closed as the congregation sings boldly about how great they are instead of how great God is. The identity crisis in the church has resulted in a musical pep talk in an attempt to raise the spirits of people who don't know who they are. I would suggest instead that we become okay with the truth of our human condition and then, with all eyes keenly focused on Jesus, we discover our identity in him. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” We aren't wonderful people who would benefit from discovering just how much God adores us. We are wretches, people who are fully hopeless, given to wickedness and children of the devil who will end up in Hell one day unless we repent. How glorious is it that God's love explodes through us the moment we surrender! The intimate, other-worldly relationship that follows such a radical and zealous decision to renounce the darkness and to give up our selfish pursuits is phenomenal! I propose we can't get from point A (wretchedness, wickedness, hopelessness) to point B (repentance, surrender and life in Jesus) unless we honestly come to terms with who we are and what we've done. We aren't to be worshiped. We aren't to be adored. We are evil and our sin is an abomination. God's wrath remains on us. We deserve death.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV) 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)If we have to convince people to “get saved” by revealing how giddy God is about them, I would suggest many of those salvations are illegitimate. Invalid. It never happened. When we truly follow Jesus, everything changes. We die daily and we discover our identity in Jesus. We are seated in heavenly places with Jesus. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. These realities are not evidences of how great we are, but how great God is. The world has been seduced by the enemy as it worships and protects people in most any identity they adopt, unless that identity is in Jesus. We need broken, humble and surrendered Believers who are no longer identified as sinners, but as saints. People who die every day, who exalt Jesus and not self, who stand for truth and righteousness no matter the cost. When we pull down strongholds and expose the wicked altars in our culture we will be mercilessly assaulted. When we refuse to worship or even acknowledge the evil, self-centered identities that society places great value on, we will be targeted. That's okay. It's not about us. It's about Jesus. It's time we stop worshiping people. The song isn't, “I exalt me.” It's…
For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth Thou art exalted far above all gods For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth Thou art exalted far above all godsI exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord
Pray for Bruce (not Caitlyn) Jenner. If we don’t discover who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, a crisis is all we can expect.
It’s easy to read about Bruce Jenner’s transition away from his God-given gender identity and experience a range of thoughts and emotions: sadness, compassion, anger, disgust, confusion
Certainly the appropriate reactions for blood-bought Christians should include intense intercession for Bruce, thankfulness for God’s power to keep us free from the enemy’s assaults in our lives and prayer for a better understanding of the issue of identity. Every one of us is at risk of losing our grip on our own identity if we don’t understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The answer to finding ourselves is to lose ourselves—to die. The old is to pass away so the new can come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
THE PURSUIT OF IDENTITY
Any youth pastor will tell you the issue of identity confusion, whether it’s gender based or not, is not unusual. Young people are famous for attempting to find and express their “true selves” by altering their bodies through tattoos, piercings, funky hair colors and various other methods. Of course, it’s not the outward manifestation that’s concerning. It’s the despair within that’s resulting in gasping for validation.
They are also experimenting with alternate sexual experiences, exhibiting attitudes of independence and becoming more narcissistic than possibly any generation in history. They are looking for life that makes sense and truly has meaning.
The problem? Without dying to self we can never discover our true identity.
Without Jesus, Bruce Jenner is hopeless—regardless of whether he struggles with gender identity or not. Eternity is a small and rapidly decreasing number of heartbeats away and he will live, as Bruce Jenner, not Caitlyn, for trillions of years (forever) in horrifying, unending torment—a never ending panic attack.
The same is true for every person who has ever lived on the earth. For those who don’t radically, completely die to their own pursuits and their own selfish identities and decide to make Jesus Christ the supreme loving master of their lives, Hell is their future. This is truth. This is terror.
However, the glorious promise for Bruce and everyone is that we can die to our flesh and experience a sudden invasion of love, freedom and clarity about the identity of Christ—and how that brings the definition to our own identity that is so fleeting without God.
John 8:32 (ESV) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
With the increasing hostility toward God in our culture, people’s only remaining hope is to discover self through the magnification of their own desires and inclinations.
This confusion is being celebrated today with exuberance.
How often have you heard about a married man realizing that he is gay—and then leaving his marriage and his children to live life as he was “created to?” Increasingly that man is celebrated for having the courage to “come out” and live how he was supposedly designed to.
What if that same man abandoned his wife and children not because he discovered his homosexuality, but rather because he discovered his promiscuity? Would he be honored for having the courage to sleep with another woman? Just what is the difference?
Our culture is becoming increasingly nonsensical.
Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
This confusion is leading people to attempt resolution to past sins and struggles in some of the most extreme and bizarre ways. The enemy is most definitely stealing, killing and destroying in unprecedented fashion.
After admitting mistakes as a husband and father Bruce Jenner said, “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
He is hoping that a transformation into a new identity—his true identity—can bring healing and strength. He is right. However, the transition isn’t from Bruce to Caitlyn or from man to woman. It’s from old man to new. His only hope is Jesus.
His announcement that he is changing his gender identification shouldn’t bring a celebration. His confusion is heart wrenching—and all of us who have been at one time dead in our sins (which is all of us) should relate to it.
The answer isn’t to encourage and celebrate a humanistic adventure of self discovery. That will only lead to hopelessness and increased despair, even if it brings a short lived respite.
Bruce Jenner, talking about how people didn’t understand what he was going through even at the height of his Olympic success: “Little did they know I was totally empty inside.”
He then continues to share why he decided to go through with his gender transition: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”
Bruce’s answer is not in becoming a woman in the hopes of starting over. It’s in allowing Jesus to forgive him and heal his past wounds. True peace can be his!
Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 …“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Romans 5:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Bruce Jenner will always experience desperation. He freely admits he has been in trauma for decades.
How is it that such emptiness can dominate a person’s life for so long and Jesus is never invited in?
I’m not only talking about Bruce’s terribly sad situation. Countless others, including Christians, live every day in depression, despair, confusion, bondage to sin and powerlessness. All too often they turn to self-discovery methods and desire satisfaction in the hopes that they can find life. They transition not from man to woman, but from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one attitude to another.
John 8:34 (ESV) 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
The answer is to surrender. Fully. Gloriously. Give Jesus leadership and refuse to seek after fulfillment in any way other than him. The love you experience will answer every question.
Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. After all, we have a right to be whoever we want, right? We can express it in most any way we desire, according to today’s cultural standard. This attitude is fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.
Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!
Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.
Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
It’s easy to rally around one who’s operating in a spirit of entitlement, especially if they are pursuing a self-defining, self-satisfying identity that can be related to. People will champion another’s perceived rights if it means their own pursuits will be strengthened by it. The unity around false human rights is resulting in increased confusion, radical rebellion and an anti-Christ spirit growing in power in our culture.
Again, the answer is to surrender to Jesus. We need a move of God like no other time in history.
It absolutely breaks my heart that Bruce Jenner and others have seen no clear remedy to their many human struggles, fears, sins and disturbances. Where is the victorious church? They can’t find the power. They can’t imagine what deliverance would feel like. This, church, is on us.
PRAY FOR BRUCE JENNER
Bruce’s destiny is in Jesus, as a son. He is entitled to abundant life not because of his human determination to thrive, but because of Jesus’ determination to die for him.
John 1:12 (KJV) 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I once met someone who had quite a testimony. He was born a male and then underwent a complete sex change operation. After living as a woman he met Jesus—and made the decision to live in his permanently altered “female” body as a man, just as God created him. That man is a champion. That man should be celebrated for his bravery to die to self and surrender all.
There is always hope when Jesus is involved.
Bruce will never be a female. He can, however, be a son of God. Let’s believe together that he is touched by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit and falls in deeply love with him. His confusion will be replaced with clarity and his old man will make way for the new. What a mighty celebration we will have the moment that happens!
Watch today’s video where I deal with the homosexual movement, abortion and why the church has limited impact dealing with those issues.
Why doesn’t the church have authority against the emerging homosexual movement and the abortion movement? It has to do with how the church has been compromised by a focus on self, false human rights, our desires, greed and other selfish focuses.
Watch as I teach about the anointing that Bezalel received to launch the prayer movement, and that was used to fashion a god that gave them the pleasures that they demanded.