The Church Needs Conviction, Not Candy

By Shane Idleman Published on April 30, 2024

Let me state up front that I’m quite aware of my own shortcomings as a pastor. We all struggle with different things — but do we humble ourselves, repent, and return in the “power of the Spirit” when we’ve blown it, or do we continue to quench and grieve the Spirit?

The difference between these two things is life-changing!

Please consider sharing this with the pastors and Christian leaders you know. Even though America’s moral degradation mas metastasized into a spiritual cancer that is consuming all facets of life, it’s not too late to call America to repentance.

Sadly, many of our spiritual surgeons — pastors — are feeding us the very thing they’re called to remove by giving us candy instead of conviction, sugar instead of surrender.

Knowing Not That the Spirit Has Departed

The atmosphere of our gatherings often reflects the heart of our leaders. Are we joyful, repentant, and filled with reverence for God, or are we acting like rock stars who are focused on entertaining our audiences while they make us feel good about ourselves?

Are we sashaying on the stage, modeling the newest clothing trends and using silly sermon illustrations because we lack the fullness of the Spirit? If so, we may be like Samson when “he knew not that the Spirit had departed.”

When we lack the fire of the Spirit and the thundering of truth, we replace it with gimmicks and games. Granted, I’m all for sermon illustrations if they are truly prompted by God — but when we use them to cover the lack of anointing on our preaching, there’s a problem.

Instead of spending time with God as broken, humble messengers needing a touch from Him ourselves, we often spend time filling our minds with the world. Some of the things we’ve seen recently — punting a Bible on Superbowl Sunday, hiring someone to swallow a sword, spitting in a person’s face, taking a bath, and getting a haircut while preaching — are simply a byproduct of spiritual barrenness. 

The Problem Isn’t Sunday but Monday

My heart is broken. I weep for what we are currently witnessing in the pulpits of America. Without the fullness of the Spirit, we can easily become weak, woke, and carnal — or even as spiritually dead as a cemetery.

In all cases, we need the cry of Psalm 85:6, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” That must be our plea as well as our passion.

We are watchmen on the walls, shepherds who care for our flocks, not rock stars who need greenrooms full of delights and water chilled to 40 degrees. We must be part of the solution rather than the problem.

Darkness Should Not Entertain Us

A.W. Tozer reminds us that “who we are all week is who we will be when we step to the pulpit.” The problem really isn’t Sunday; it’s Monday and Tuesday and so on.

Ironically, as I was writing this article, one prominent evangelical pastor made a post n X that seemed to support Taylor Swift’s album, in which she gets so dark and sexually explicit that some moms of younger Swifties are second-guessing their allegiance. What we watch and listen to affects the heart; it’s impossible to separate the two. What goes into the heart ultimately comes out in our actions. That’s why the Bible tells us we must guard it with all diligence.

The Scriptures are crystal clear on the issue of entertainment; there’s really no debate!

Philippians 4:8 says to fix our thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, and to think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable and worthy of praise. When darkness entertains us, it also influences us.

The Desperate Need Today

The word “revival” is very popular right now, but why aren’t we seeing it in a fuller measure? In Duncan Campbell’s book, The Price and Power of Revival, he made the following statement:

One of the main secrets of success in the early Church lay in the fact that the early believers believed in unction from on high and not entertainment from men.. .. How did the early Church get the people? By publicity projects … by posters, by parades, by pictures? No! The people were arrested and drawn together and brought into vital relationship with God, not by sounds from men, but by sounds from heaven …Unction is the dire and desperate need of the ministry today.

In Old Testament Israel, thousands still sacrificed to God on the high places that had previously been used to worship demons. At least we’re sacrificing to God, they thought. Whether for convenience or because of compromise, God’s people began to justify the use of pagan locations and altars to worship God. God’s heart must have broken each time the Bible tells us a righteous king took office, but “the high places were not removed.”

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Like Israel, are there areas in our lives where we’re allowing compromise to seep in? As a famous poem by an unknown author reminds us,

All the water in the world,
However hard it tried,
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it gets inside.
And all the evil in the world,
The blackest kind of sin,
Can never hurt you in the least
Unless you let it in.

We Can Reverse the Trend

In the same way that physical cancer can be reversed when the the rogue cells are killed and the fuel source is removed, spiritual cancer can also be reversed if we remove sin and kill its source.

What compromise do you need to repent of? What areas of ungodly influence do you need to let go of? We must get back to the prayer closet — back to the basics of prayer, fasting, and humbling ourselves before God.

We are waiting on God to turn our nation around … but could it be that He is really waiting on us?

 

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.

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