Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
Whenever the saints of God gather on earth in the name of the Lord, it is an event to be respected and feared. It is, in fact, a miniature Judgment Day. Over the past few decades, I have noticed that those who do not highly esteem an assembly of the saints of God do not do well in their spiritual life. Some have been rejected by God altogether.
On one occasion in the book of Acts, the saints gathered to collect contributions for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Two members of the body, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, had insufficient fear of God when they showed up. They had every appearance of sincerity and honesty, like all the rest of the saints there, but that appearance was a lie. James warned the children of God that if evil was in their hearts, they should not “lie against the truth” by “glorying” (that is, by putting on a religious act in the presence of the congregation of God). In the case of Ananias and Sapphira, God killed them immediately for their brazen hypocrisy. They lied openly to Peter, who told them both that they had not lied to him but to God (Acts 5:4). Referring to the danger of lying to a man like Peter, my father once gave this sobering admonition to a congregation in Louisville, Kentucky: “It’s a good thing for some of us that the rest of us aren’t any closer to God than we are.”
The fearful judgment of Ananias and Sapphira was not an isolated incident in the history of God’s work with men. The Bible is full of stories of judgment coming upon worshipers as they worship God, but not as he demands to be worshiped. According to Paul’s description of the Corinthian believers (1Cor. 11:27-30), God had struck a number of them with diseases, spiritual weakness, and in some cases, even premature death, for not making sure their hearts were pure before they “gloried” in meetings with the saints. Paul even condemned the whole congregation in that city for failing to understand the seriousness of their own meetings. So bad had the situation become that Paul told them that they would have been better off spiritual if they had not had any meetings at all (1Cor, 11:17).
Drinking of the Spirit with condemnation in your heart can kill you. Just a brief survey of the history of mankind will show beyond any doubt whatsoever that during that long and sordid history, there have been many, many more sacrifices offered to God that He despised than there have been sacrifices that He accepted. Before we drink of the cup of the Lord (the holy Ghost) and eat of the bread of Christ (his body of believers), let us search our hearts. If there is envy or strife in your heart, or any such thing, take it to the Lord and leave it there. Let it go. It is more important than you may think.