by | May 30, 2019 | Christianity Today | 22 comments

A man of God and his wife, who are dear friends of mine, were placed in an awkward but all too familiar situation recently. They were at a reception with other spiritual leaders when hard liquor was offered to them. They politely refused and slowly excused themselves, trying hard to mask their shock.

That is not the end of it. A “prophet” later confronted them and told them that they were being legalistic for not drinking. He went so far as to say that unless they got in line with the new “revelation of freedom,” their church would not grow.

 This is no longer a case of just saying drinking is okay. Now they are saying you should be drinking if you want to be in the flow. That “flow” is part of a scheme for rapid church growth that compromises many other areas of Christian life—and programs believers to backslide. The Bible predicted this deception…

Isaiah 59:15 says, “So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.” Some pastors today are attacking church members who seek to be holy…accusing them of a having a religious spirit.

 Have we really come to the point where believers are making themselves a target by pursuing holiness?  The answer is a loud, “YES!” Many churches in America have become mere factories that are churning out converts who are preprogrammed to backslide. And don’t fool yourself, this church growth machine is found even in spirit-filled churches…even in so-called ‘revival’ churches.

 Holiness is now rejected and called a ‘religious spirit.’ Satan rejoices at this, because it has created the greatest display of false success in the history of the church. Many churches are now conveyor belts that attract large numbers of people only to have them rapidly fall off at the end of the belt.

In fact, the ones who fall off may be the fortunate ones, since there is a chance that they will crash and burn and eventually come to their senses in true repentance. But, woe to those who are backslidden and don’t even realize it, because they have been taught the lie that they can never backslide!


 The growth we celebrate today is a grand illusion that hides the greatest turnover ratio ever.

Doesn’t this explain why so many believers have been deceived by these false teachings, and have been reclaimed by the enemy? Doesn’t this explain why the church has no authority to push back against the flood of evil in our nation? How can we field an army of warriors when the church is setting them up to fail? Forgive me, but I am about to get passionate!

How can it be that the very vessels chosen of God to equip the saints, have instead conspired to create a system that rewards carnality and shames holiness?

Listen to most sermons today. They give the impression that the church has exhausted herself trying to serve God, or that she has overdone sacrifice—that now she needs vast portions of comfort food.  That’s the way it sounds when ministers keep telling them to relax, and quit trying so hard, because, ‘Daddy is so pleased with them.’

 Even after there’s proof that a congregation has become a listless, flabby, biblically illiterate club of moody consumers—preachers will still heap on them one more message of pampered entitlement.  Forgive me…but it’s kind of like handing a diabetic a case of Snickers bars.

Sundays are too often a celebration of how much God lets you get away with. Pastors are giving sermons full of soothing guarantees that confuse God’s love with His approval.

1 John 5:4 says “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

There are two things to take away from this promise. The first is that a major goal of the child of God is to overcome the world. That goal is largely missing in modern preaching—preaching that sees the world as a kind of ‘friend’ and not as a mortal enemy. (15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. I John 2:15).  Secondly, it shows us the desperately urgent place of faith—faith that overcomes! That is also missing.

 We program failure when it is not clear at the moment of conversion that we must die to our own will, and Christ must become Lord of our existence. That is an ultimatum that cannot be postponed. Without it, you are producing new converts who will have no power to overcome evil. They will have no hope of growing in faith. You are robbing them of the joy of the Lord!

Repentance, spiritual warfare, and the authority of the believer, are all subjects that would protect the child of God and help them stand against the enemy. But these preachers never get around to these truths because they are afraid it will stop the influx of people. Think of that!

Gently suggest the church could go deeper—call for more prayer meetings—voice concern about inappropriately dressed women—tell them you don’t want to party with them, and they will scream, “YOU HAVE A RELIGIOUS SPIRIT!”

What was once normal discipleship is now ‘legalism.’  Anything that dampens their festivities is judgmental. What have we done?  We have unleashed a counterfeit liberty.  These are not the features of a Spirit-led people.  These are the clear symptoms of people with sick souls deceived and careening toward disaster.

 But the final nail in the coffin of this deception is this: It is utterly unnecessary to compromise to get a crowd. Jesus never had trouble getting a crowd. That is why He focused on changing the crowd. Go ahead and boast about growth, but you must do it at the expense of truth—the truth that while churches grow, the nation is dying—and the very people tasked by God to save America are having zero impact!

The greatest gift God can send a church is a holy child of God whose heart is for revival.  A holy child who longs for the fire, glory, and power of God to electrify the church.  Make them your enemy and you have also made an enemy out of God. Woe unto you, if you have ever called holiness a religious spirit.   God bless you, if you love holiness and understand what a treasure it is!  1 Timothy 6: 6 “Now, godliness with contentment is great gain.”

 Thank God that at this critical hour the Holy Spirit is separating to Himself a core of Christians. These are pastors and regular believers who are praying to go deeper into God. They are busy saying to each other, “This sideshow is not God! There is so much more! No way can Satan win if we take our stand on the authority of the cross!”

 He is imbuing them with boldness, wisdom, signs and wonders, and most of all…a blazing passion for holiness!

 “Pursue peace with all people, and pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:14 




  1. Lindy

    You nailed it – in every word spoken. It is the separating of the carnal Christians from the Spirit-filled Christians (I don’t just mean the Christians who speak in tongues once in a while and live for their own pleasure,) I mean the Spirit filled Christians who “die daily” and “take up the Cross daily and follow Jesus.” Those who have already decided, “Not my will Lord, but thine be done.”
    The others: “But these are they who are sensual having not the Spirit..” Jude.
    Having the Spirit and walking in the Spirit requires a death to our natural life and causes us to be led in paths of righteousness for His Names’ sake and on the Highway of Holiness.
    It is hard to nail the flesh coz it always needs doing, but it is so worth it.
    My heart goes out to the Christians mentioned in this post who walk in the flesh and who think they are liberated. They do not know the true liberty of the Holy Ghost, which comes about as a result of restricting our flesh, fasting when the Lord wants us to, denying ourselves some things He desires us to. Praying instead of watching TV.
    I also suspect that just because I know this and have experienced the true liberty of the Holy Ghost and the true Love of and for Christ, that I too am in danger unless I strengthen those things that are ready to die. Lord help me. I want to love Him more.
    May we all see our own lack in these days, because there is more to be had, so much more, no not of miracles and healings and souls to be saved – yes obviously we need more of that – but there is so much more of Jesus Himself to be had!
    I long for more usefulness – more souls saved, more healings and miracles and I have walked in these over the years (not like Brother Murillo – he has slain his ten thousands, I might have achieved a couple hundred or more! 🙂 But above and beyond that, I long for Jesus.
    I am so desperately in need of Him and a closerness with Him.

  2. Roger Culwell

    Some of us will do our Fathers will or die, for his sake.

  3. Kristy McTaggart

    Brother Mario, please write to us more about holiness. The old-time preachers taught holiness, but I have been walking with God for over 40 years and I remember only one sermon on the subject. I know holiness is not the same as behavior. Sometimes abstaining from cussing, or drinking, or watching salacious programs makes one think they have achieved holiness and they become self-righteous and prideful and stop pursuing Jesus. What is the inner road? How do we know if we are on it, or missing it? How do we discern the Christians among us who are truly holy in order to learn from their lives?

  4. northlandoutposts

    Yes  and Amen!!!……

  5. Carolina

    It is utterly RIDICULOUS that anyone in church leadership would encourage people who claim Christ’s blessed salvation, to either drink booze or party with those that do! This is completely irresponsible & apostate to true Christian teaching and experience. Further this behavior deserves a public sanction against it issued from the department of health and human services (DHS) using their Behavioral Health physicians through Medicaid to make a formal complaint against this type of group think behavior. Due to the FACTS that even this worldly system of American government instructs regarding substance abuse (drinking, drugs etc) they even know and teach, that to honor every urge that the human body and brain issues is neither healthy for the body nor the mind and leads to addiction behavior in direct conflict with a healthy physical existence leading to self destructiveness.
    “Now”…if the world powers that work within a humanly formed system of government such as these I just mentioned, are intelligent enough to understand that this kind of activity leads to the ruination of a human life physically, mentally, financially and spiritually and recommend ABSTINENCE, then how RIDICULOUS are those in leadership and their congregants at the church houses who practice such things? Do they even ask each person that they try to influence with their boozing socials, if they’ve had an addiction problem prior to these so-called “flowing” encounters?
    DEAR LORD…Holiness isn’t even in the first chapter of their playbook. How dare they call themselves a church, let alone Christ Jesus’s church.
    This is unconscionably excessive and wrong on every level.

  6. Deborah

    Thank you!!! Every time I read your posts you are helping me. I’m so glad I have reconnected with your ministry. Keep
    Sharing GOD’s truth. I know I’m listening.

  7. SAS

    Yes and amen!
    God says in Isaiah 5:20
    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
    Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    God is good. Turning from His declaration of “good” turns away from God.
    His way is the only way!

    • Deanna

      Verse 21 should be put with that too!

  8. Christine H.

    Thank you for sharing this information. Who knew!!!!!

  9. ghostofdurocher

    Is there a distinction that needs to be made of churches with these “growth programs” the goal of which seems to be large crowds, no demand no holiness, and a license given freely for carnality versus churches with “self growth” programs that apparently were formulated for personal growth in the Lord? What kind of bothers me is the common practice now where no prayer is offered from the pulpit at the end of a service for any potential new believer to come to faith in Jesus.  Is this the new normal now?  Last service I attended the preacher just says….”If you need any prayer just come to the front and someone will be here to agree with you”.  

    • Carolina

      Yes ghostofdurocher, what ever happened to the end of the service offer to come to the front of the pulpit as a statement of ones sincere faith for salvation in Jesus Christ?? Do they remember the song that was sung by everyone when the invitation was made?…”Just as I am without one plea but that your blood was shed for me, Oh Lamb of God I come…I come.”
      And that was sung by everybody until hearts broke, tears were shed and people came forward to devote themselves to Christ Jesus as LORD of their lives. Not membership to some institutional church, but for Jesus Christ The King Himself that was their tearful surrender.
      The Cross of Christ must be preached again and again for without it there would be NO salvation for anybody. The Cross of Jesus IS Grace, without it there’d be NO Grace at all.
      Who are these people who’d like to ignore & forget about that?

  10. Stephen C. Patton

    Sadly all the talk of the Emergent Church is true; and as the Apostle Paul clearly stated in the last days would be an Apostacy. And we’re seeing it unveil before us. What about Come out from among them and be ye separate. That isn’t legalism that’s the word of God. Holiness has become a byword to this carnal sect; if indeed many of them are believers at all. God knows for sure, and we are not to pick up stones towards these men, and women. But I’d like to share on verse in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19. First of all, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19. And in deed there must be differences among you to show which of you are approved. I happen to like that verse in the KJV but the point is clear.

  11. Deanna

    Recently, I was asking what about purity is toxic to a lady, and they answered (somewhat) and I said it’s God’s best to wait until marriage, and another woman was telling me how I was being judgmental.
    She is a Christian, supposedly. Sad times when you get attacked for being for sex til marriage.

  12. Datha Thomas

    I will never never compromise concerning the Word of God. My God where is the thirst and desperation for the power of God to flow in our lives and our churches. He is the answer

  13. Patricia Folkord

    Sad but so true.

  14. Connie Haus

    Ronn and I believe wholeheartedly in what you say! The compromise in the church is making the church weaker and weaker! The line in sand needs to be drawn!

  15. Noel

    A true prophetic voice that is still calling out to those who have ears to hear. I am beginning to hear again after a lengthy season of discipline. HOLINESS MATTERS! OBEDIENCE MATTERS!

  16. Shoshanna M Zimmerman

    What a wonderful word! One of the fads in this local church world, is soaking not praying. They put music on for a half hour or so and then share their visions. A leader actually shared a vision as an example. A woman had a vision of “being naked in a bath tub of Jesus’s blood”. After your article, I guess this church world isn’t the only one in deep trouble.

  17. Reo

    ?? Praise God! My husband and I started praying several years ago – he was praying for revival. I said, yes, we need revival, but we also need a “Holiness Movement”! So we prayed for both! So encouraging to read your blog, but also the responses of your audience! One verse that has been brought to my mind is Isaiah 59:19: “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.”
    Could it be that we who pray/read/meditate are that standard? Holy Spirit, fall mightily upon Your people ? and bring Your Church into that place of repentance/holiness/spiritual maturity and ‘receptivity to Your leading’ where we need to be in order to glorify You and further Your Kingdom! Help us to be pliable to Your will, yet unmovable & unyielding to the temptations of this world! Raise up more men & women who are on ? fire to testify of Your goodness & glory, but also to speak boldly the Truth of Your Word in love as a warning of Your judgement to come! Send the laborers into the fields, Lord God! In Jesus’ Mighty Name, amen! ??

  18. Kay

    thank you so much for the encouragement. I sometimes feel Like I am on an Island

  19. Andreas

    ‘Beer by the way is the worst thing you can ever drink, it’s in no way healthy and also people get the munchies when they drink pints(in small amounts) hence the beer belly. people feel sluggish even after one glass of red(in small amounts) the next day, just look at this video The heart benefits of red wine for young people(20s-30s) are marginal, Not big. Some people think alcohol is a sleep aid, it helps you to sleep(temporarily) but then when the effect wears off, you become restless. It affects your body’s natural sleeping pattern,.it steals a precious chemical in your body called ‘the human growth hormone.’

    • Deanna

      Also, some sipping “Saints” think wine is okay to drink, but not beer. Wine has more alcohol than beer per volume.
      Compromise is a slippery slope. It leads to all sorts of alcohol. I know someone who started out with wine, now it’s beer and now whiskey. The devil moves on it with it all.



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