Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.
~ Jeremiah 7:4, Judges 18:7, Jeremiah 48:11
Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. ~ James 5:5
Are we Christians, by Horatius Bonar. This is from his work, “Self-Denial Christianity“.
Woe to those who are at ease in Zion.
~ Amos 6:1a
What do we say to our self-indulgence, our spiritual sloth, our love of ease, our avoidance of hardship, our luxury, our pampering of the body, our costly feasts, our silken couches, our brilliant furniture, our gay attire, our expensive jewellry, our idle mirth, our voluptuous music, our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?
Are we Christians—or are we worldlings? Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days? Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen—except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion.” Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is ‘high living’—luxury of the table or the wardrobe—in conformity to this present evil world.
“At ease in Zion.” Yes, there is the shrinking from hard service; from spending and being spent; from toil and burden-bearing and conflict; from self-sacrifice and noble service; for the Master’s sake. There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ. There is a laying down of the cross, instead of a taking up of the cross. Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it. Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.
Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross. We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader—so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that modern enlightenment has so refined ‘the world and its pleasures’, that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the siren song. “At ease in Zion.” Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed. Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches. Instead of the armour, we put on the silken robe. We are cowards, when we should be brave. We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold. We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent. We are cold, when we should be full of zeal. We compromise and shuffle and make excuses—when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet. We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin—in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or ‘unify’ the Church. Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing.
Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day. A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him—renouncing ease and denying self. Our time, our abilities, our money, our strength—are all to be laid upon the altar.
Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
~ Amos 6:1