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Reformation Perverted PDF Print E-mail
Written by John R. Respess   


Butler, Ga., March 1894 

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none; then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished; then goeth he and taketh seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be with this wicked generation.---Matt. xii.

That Jesus used the man out of whom the unclean spirit voluntarily went, to illustrate the condition of the Jews then, and what it would be, seems clear enough. There had been a reformation in the man, but no regeneration of him; the unclean spirit had gone out of him, but no better spirit had come into him; he was still the same man, cleaned up and garnished, or beautified and adorned. And when the unclean spirit returned he found the man ready for him, and better prepared than he was before he left; for he was prepared for seven other more wicked spirits than the first was. Far be it from me to teach that the reformation of a wicked man is the worse for him, for it is not; it is good for him. But if he perverts it and makes it a curse to him, that is his fault, and not the fault of his reformation. If a wicked adulterer reforms, it is good for him and good for society, but if the unclean spirit makes him believe that he has done something for which he merits God’s favor, and for which he ought to be and is eternally saved, then that man, in a spiritual sense, is worse off than he was at first; worse off than publicans and harlots, for they go into the kingdom of God before him.---Matt. xxi. For they are where he was before the unclean spirit went out of him and the seven other wicked spirits came into him.

Now apply this to that wicked generation. The Jews had been favored of God much above the other nations; God had committed his oracles to them, but with all the favors God had given them, that generation was the most wicked generation that has ever lived. They were worse than the heathens around them to whom no such advantages had been given. It was not the advantages that made them worse, but their perversion of them that did it; and thus they became worse than the heathen. "Thou art called a Jew and restest in the law," wrote Paul, "and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will" (had his word) "and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law and are confident that thou thyself art a guide, a light to them, which are in darkness, a teacher of babes, and hast the form of knowledge and truth in the law. Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou makest thy boast of God, through breaking the law dishonerest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you."---Rom ii.

They ought to have been the most humble, grateful, God-fearing, obedient and God-honoring people on the earth; because God had given them much. And now He had sent them his only begotten Son, but him they refused, despised, and crucified. Even Nineveh, a heathen city, had heard Jonah, but the Jews would not hear a greater than Jonah; the queen of the south had gone from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but that wicked generation would not hear a greater than Solomon and who came to them. What sort of people were they? They were a very religious people; full of zeal; had a missionary system, and religious schools; and what not. But Christ portrays them so clearly that he who runs may see them. Jesus spake to the multitude and to his disciples saying: "The Scribes and Pharisees bind heavy burdens and grievous to the borne, and lay the on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. All their work they do to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries and uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ; and ye all are brethren. He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. You devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers, ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Ye blind guides,! ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and omit the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: ye strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." ---Matt. xxiii.

Written at the request of Elder I. S. Roberts of Tenn.---R.

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