By Patrick Hawthorne
I have been reading and meditating on the book of Malachi. Listed seven times throughout the book is one word that expresses the condition of Israel. That word is, “Wherein.” Starting his letter, Malachi -who is expressing the words of the Lord – writes, “I have loved you.” Immediately this is met with, “Wherein have you loved us?”
“Wherein.” A common way of saying this is “what do you mean?” “What do you mean that You have loved us? What do you mean we have offered You polluted sacrifices? What do you mean we have despised Your name?”
On the outside looking in, Israel was doing everything right. They were serving God, sacrificing to God, and being obedient to the letter of the law. On the outside they had a form of godliness but on the inside, at the very core of their heart, had denied the power thereof. On the outside, they appeared to be doing everything right yet their hearts were far from the Lord.
In 2 Timothy 3 we are told that in the last day’s men will be lovers of self. They will be covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, and a host of others. The finale to this is, “Having a form of godliness, BUT DENYING THE POWER!
Many are the church buildings of today. I say church buildings because many of the members are not of the Body of Christ. Their ministers are of the spiritual dead leading a blind congregation on a path leading to the gates of hell. All the while their anthem cry is, “Wherein?”
The word, “form,” (morphosis) means formation. Used only twice in the New Testament, the word means to have an outward semblance, “an image or impression.” In other words, these lifeless churches walk the walk, talk the talk and have, in many cases, fooled themselves and others into believing that they are right with the Lord. Consider the words of G. Campbell Morgan Malachi’s Message to the Men of To-day.
“That is one of the dangers of the present day. Take Christendom at large. You have thousands who can give you good reasons for belonging to the Church, who have some purity in their lives, and seem to be not only maintaining the outward forms, but appear also to hold tenaciously to the truth which is the formative power of the Church, and yet whose lives are not in correspondence to the truth they hold.”
This is frightening to me. “Wherein – what do you mean – I am lost? Have I not declared, “Lord, Lord?”’ And then our Lord Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness” (from Matthew 7:21-23).
My prayer is that all of those who read this will hold to and feast upon the truth of God’s Word – that our eyes would be open to any bit of deception that might blind us from the truth of our own spiritual condition. My prayer is that we not be found guilty of having a form of godliness but in truth deny the power. Be blessed.