Cleaning Out the Clutter | Tomorrow’s World — July/August 2024

Cleaning Out the Clutter

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Can you make sense of the spiritual confusion in our world? Where is God’s true church today that follows the original doctrines and teachings of Jesus Christ?

My wife recently taught a class for young adult women on how to keep a clean house. That might sound sexist to some, but the truth is that if a home is neat and orderly, it is likely a woman who has taken the lead in making it so. I want to borrow some information my wife presented in her class: An Indiana University research scientist “found that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses.” Other researchers discovered that women “who described their living spaces as ‘cluttered’ or full of ‘unfinished projects’ were more likely to be depressed and fatigued than women who described their homes as ‘restful’ and ‘restorative.’ The researchers also found that women with cluttered homes expressed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol” (“The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness,” Psychology Today, July 11, 2016).

Maybe our mothers knew more than we thought when they told us, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Although many people have assumed that this proverb is found in the Bible, it is not. Nevertheless, the general principle of orderliness is. Adam was placed in a beautiful garden with the expectation that he would “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15)—he was to maintain its beauty rather than let it become unkempt. “And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 13:18). They also set up camp in an orderly fashion (Numbers 2:1–2).

At our summer camps for teens, the Living Church of God draws upon a principle from the Apostle Paul, who taught the members at Corinth to maintain order and avoid confusion. He instructed, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints,” and finished with, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). His immediate subject was how they conducted their services, but there is a principle here for all aspects of life: Right-minded people want order over confusion.

However, this brings up a question: Why do we see such religious chaos if God is not the author of confusion?

The Chaos of “Christianity”

Our world is sorely confused about its Creator. Hundreds of millions bow before an array of wooden, metal, stone, or plastic images that they think represent gods. Many more millions worship idols of the heart—what they have conceived as gods in their own minds.

According to projections from Pew Research, there are approximately 2.4 billion nominal Christians worldwide, 1.9 billion Muslims, 1.2 billion Hindus, and hundreds of millions in other established religions (“Religious Composition by Country, 2010–2050,” Pew Research Center, December 21, 2022). Yet, even within these religions, there is hardly uniformity. There are major and minor divisions within Islam and Judaism, but it is in professing Christianity that there is the greatest confusion. There is not even consensus on how many “Christian” denominations there are! But according to the Bible, God is not the author of confusion—so, how did we arrive at such disorder?

From the beginning, mankind has refused to accept God’s rule over His creation. When given the choice between trusting his Creator or trusting himself to determine right and wrong, Adam chose the latter, and we have followed that example throughout human history. The Bible chronicles mankind’s self-confidence and the results. As an example, Judges is one of the bloodiest books in the Bible, and the last verse spells out the overarching problem: When there is no overriding authority, it is each man for himself. “In those days there was no king [no central authority] in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Of course, the true King is God, but He is the last authority to which man is willing to submit. As Paul explains in Romans 8:7, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” The natural man, including he who claims to follow Christ, rejects God’s authority over his life. That is why the first sign Jesus gave regarding the end of the age is that of false Christianity (Matthew 24:3–4). “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (v. 5). There will be those who come in His name—claiming His authority—who will admit that Jesus is the Christ, but will deceive many through their message.

Spiritual Clutter

All these contradictory ideas about God and what He expects of us cannot be right, though some delude themselves into thinking so. Just as physical clutter takes a toll on the individual, so spiritual clutter takes a toll on mankind—bringing stress, confusion, wars, and lives cut short. When God instructs us not to worship Him the way the heathen do (Deuteronomy 12:29–32), people reason, “As long as we keep one day in seven, it does not matter which day we keep,” or, “As long as we do it for Jesus, it is okay that we celebrate a ‘Christian’ holy day named after a pagan fertility goddess.” And there is a multitude of other rationalizations from those attempting to get around clear doctrinal statements found in the Scriptures.

The Bible often uses a woman to symbolize a church (Ephesians 5:31–32), and God’s Church is referred to as a chaste virgin and the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7–9). But Revelation 17 introduces us to a very different kind of woman—a fallen woman referred to as the “great harlot.” She is seen riding a beast that has seven heads and ten horns. Her colors are red and purple (v. 4), she is responsible for killing the true servants of God (v. 6), she exists among “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (v. 15), and she is synonymous with “that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (v. 18). And if that is not enough to identify her, she has a name written on her forehead: “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (vv. 1–5).

The name Babylon comes from the city of Babel, where rebellious mankind sought to challenge God Himself, and in response He confused their languages to put down their rebellion and cause them to scatter across the earth (Genesis 11:1–9). Babel was also where Nimrod ruled and where he founded a mystery religion. This is where the above title comes from. But notice carefully that this fallen woman is a mother church—a “mother of harlots.” Consider what that means! She has daughters who came out of her. How amazing that some are able to identify the great harlot but fail to realize who her daughters are—and how they themselves may be associated with one of those daughters!

In contrast, the true Church of God is not a large, world-shaping organization, but is small (Luke 12:32) and persecuted. On the night in which Jesus was taken into custody to be crucified the next morning, He warned His disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Christ also tells us, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).

The day is coming when Jesus Christ will intervene dramatically in world affairs, at which time He will clean out the clutter, the confusion, and the chaos of religion, politics, and squabbles between neighbors and nations. That is the message we proclaim at Tomorrow’s World!


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