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SermonReligious Leadership Corruption
An all-creatures Bible Message

Religious Leadership Corruption
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
1 March 2015
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Genesis 17:1-16
Matthew 5:48
Mark 8:31-38
Romans 4:18-25

Religious leadership corruption is nothing new; it has existed ever since organized religion began.
 
Not too long ago, we talked about religious leadership corruption that existed when Eli was judge over Israel some three thousand years ago, and it has continued to the present time.
 
But this problem isnít limited to religious leadership corruption, because we find it prevalent in our political leadership and in corporate leadership.
 
In fact, God tells us that the whole of His beautiful creation has been corrupted.
 
By whom?
 
By our leadership who use their power and position to corrupt the world around them for personal and prideful gain, and they drag multitudes of weak people along with them.
 
But God has given us the power to say, NO!
 
We donít have to follow along with these evil people, and it begins by returning to the whole plant food diet that God created for us to eat in Eden, where there was no death or suffering, just as it is in heaven.
 
So what are we going to do this Lenten season or, for that matter, all the days of our lives?
 
Genesis 17:1-16 doesnít speak directly to the issue of religious leadership corruption, but it does contain some very interesting things that can help us protect against the religious leadership corruption we encounter.

1. Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him,
"I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.

This is very similar to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48Ö

48. "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.Ē
NASB

This probably sounds like an impossibility to most people, because we all sin; and for those people who live in the corrupt ways of the world, it is impossible; however, for those of us who live in the heavenly will of God, it becomes a real possibility, because our hearts, minds, and souls are attuned to the Holy Spirit.
 
Letís go on and see what else God says to Abram.

2. "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly."
 
3. And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
 
4. "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,
And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.
 
5. "No longer shall your name be called Abram,
But your name shall be Abraham;
For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.

Abram was just an average person, like most of the people in the world who are concerned mostly about their own welfare and hopefully their familyís welfare, but Abram was also listening to God.
 
So God changed his name and position in the world; he was no longer to be just a man whose main concern was about himself and his family, but now he was to become a father to all the other peoples of the earth.
 
Abrahamís responsibility was to be for the care and protection of all the people of Godís creation; he was to be a father to a multitude of nations and not just his own family or even his own nation.
 
And this is where we can gain the wisdom to overcome the religious leadership corruption we encounter.
 
People who are corrupt donít do things that benefit all the people of the world equally and possess the unconditional love of God.
 
So, if we donít see this in everything they say and do, then we can take a stand against their corruption by telling and living the truth to the world around us.
 
God goes on and tells Abraham, and hopefully usÖ

6. "And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you.

And everyone should be the same way that God wants Abraham to be, but unfortunately they were not, and corruption remained in the world.

7. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
 
8. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
 
9.  God said further to Abraham, "Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.

And all of this is contingent upon us continuing to live in the heavenly will of God, and reject the corrupt ways of this world.

10. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
 
11. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
 
12. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
 
13. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

The intent here is that every male would have a physical reminder, several times a day, of the covenant between them and God.

14. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

There are many scholars who debate whether or not God actually wanted all males to be mutilated in this way, since what God really wants is for us to be circumcised in heart and soul, which is a spiritual circumcision to cut away the evil from our lives, and not a physical one.
 
In other words God wants the evil that is in our hearts to be spiritually cut out.
 
This is also what we need to do to overcome religious leadership corruption.
 
Then God speaks to Abraham about the responsibility of women, using his wife Sarai as an example.

15. Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.
 
16. And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."
NASB

As with Abraham, Sarah is given the same responsibilities, and this is also the way we are all to be.
 
We can overcome the religious leadership corruption and all other forms of corruption in the world.
 
We are not to be slaves to it.
 
In Mark 8:31-38, Jesus talks about His pending death at the hands of ungodly men, a problem that still exists in the world today, but today the victims are mostly animals.

31. And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

This religious leadership corruption has existed for thousands of years; in Jesusí day there was still ungodliness coming from the religious leaders, and it continues to this present day.
 
Today, itís not expressed toward Jesus directly, but against animals and those who care about them, which is really against the heavenly will of God and the teachings of Jesus.
 
And this hardness of heart coming from these religious leaders is something we have experienced first hand, and have been speaking out against for over 30 years.

32. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
 
33. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

Peter didnít want to understand that Jesus was going to be condemned to death, because Satan had blinded him from seeing the truth, but Jesus did, and didnít want there to be any misunderstandings among the other disciples.
 
Jesus was exposing the religious leadership corruption for the evil it represented.

34. And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

In other words, we need to be able to put Godís heavenly will and Jesus ahead of our own lives, even while facing the threats of this corrupt world.
 
35. "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.
 
Most people seem to mistakenly think that they can save themselves from harm by going along with the human leadership among them and be accepted by them and their followers, instead of following the heavenly will of God.
 
Note how Jesus respondsÖ

36. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
 
37. "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
 
38. "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
NASB

The tragedy is that most people donít seem to want to understand these simple facts. They think they know better than God, or that one of their religious leaders does, and they blindly follow along.
 
In Romans 4:18-25, Paul addresses the faith of Abraham as an encouragement to us to have the same kind of faith in the promises of God.

18. In hope against hope he [Abraham] believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your descendants be."
 
19. And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;

None of us are perfect, and neither was Abraham, but he held on to the promises of God even though it was counter to the ways of this world, and we can do the same thing; that is, if we truly want to.
 
As an example, the meat industry tries to convey the idea in their advertising that it is manly to eat meat, which is the way the world teaches us, but a really strong man can see through this untruth and reject it, and become a compassionate and healthier plant eater, as God intended us to do, much in the same way that Abraham believed in God.

20. yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,
 
21. and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.

Since there is no death in heaven, and God created the world for all animals, including humans, to eat only whole plant foods, we are to trust in Him that this is the best way for all of us to live.
 
And from everything we have learned, this plan is His promise of a better and peaceful life for us all.
 
We hope and pray that we all have this same kind of faith and trust in the promises and heavenly will of God.

22. Therefore also it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

There is no righteousness in killing another living being who wants to live just as much as we do.

23. Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him,
 
24. but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
 
25. He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
NASB

Do we believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?
 
We hope so, and if we do, then we should also trust in the creation intent and heavenly will of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.
 
So, weíll ask the question again; what are we going to do this Lenten season or, for that matter, all the days of our lives?
 
Are we going to follow the religious leadership corruption that falsely tells us that God wants us to kill other living beings, both human, and animals?
 
Are we going to follow along with the religious leadership corruption that falsely tells us that God wants us to eat animals?
 
We hope and pray that we take a stand for God and say NO!
 
We hope and pray that we think for ourselves, and say no to all forms of religious leadership corruption.
 
We hope and pray that we all become the peacemaking children of God that Jesus calls us to be, and that we begin by rejecting all forms of corruption, beginning with what we put on our plates.
 
We can end pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death, and bring peace to this world and help end the corruption of creation.
 
We can!
 
Amen.

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