Man Looks on the Outward Appearance… but God Looks on the Heart

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One Sunday afternoon recently we were visiting an elderly relative who resides close to the headquarters of the Palmarian Church in north Dublin. Just as we had parked the car I noticed a gathering of people outside this house church – a gathering which consisted of very well dressed ladies in long skirts and just a few men who were also very formally dressed. We had arrived there earlier than expected and so must have stumbled upon the congregation of this sect while they were still talking after their morning worship.

Before going in to see our relative, I took the opportunity to walk slowly towards the people who were still standing there, intending to strike up a conversation. However, I was unsuccessful in this and had the distinct impression that this was not the first time that they had been approached, although at other times it most likely would have been by journalists.

I have noted this dress code phenomenon with other cults such as Cooneyites, Exclusive Brethren and a cult which only exists in one part of the world – the Cooperites who live in Gloriavale which is based at Haupiri on the west coast of the south island in New Zealand. The latter was founded in 1969 by their very controversial leader, Neville Cooper, an Australian-born evangelist.

All of these cults have some definite things in common – there are many rules governing their respective rigid dress codes; they believe that the only way to heaven is by belonging to their organisation and most are governed by a central figurehead on this earth or men’s ideas – not by the Lord.

While I believe that we should do all to the glory of God (and this includes the way we dress) change begins in the heart and works outwards. If our hearts are not right with the Lord, all the dressing in a certain way in the world will make no difference to the ‘inner man.’

“The Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 16v7)

Jesus said: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7v20)

Minutes later two of the well-dressed young ladies walked past the gateway of our elderly relative’s residence and both of them made it clear by their actions that they were not at all happy with my trying to speak to them earlier.

My heart goes out to the young people who belong to this sect. The Lord loves them, died for them and desires that they come to knowledge of His truth – the truth that says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)

When our hearts are right with the Lord, we will inevitably have within these hearts of ours His great love for our fellowmen and women, even those who do not worship with us. Only in hearts which truly belong to Him can the fruits of the spirit be manifested.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5v22)

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