Long ago, the “Weeping Prophet” wrote: “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Contrary to prevalent humanistic philosophy, when humanity chooses to chart its own course moral and ethical decline follows.
Just look around and you will see this confirmed. So-called answers to life’s perplexities, all-too-often, merely produce more questions. In light of what Jeremiah wrote, this should be no surprise. Actually, Solomon more forcefully addresses the matter. In Proverbs 14:12 we read: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. ”
How tragic it is when a society, or an individual, buys into the notion that the answers to all our ills come from within. That which is touted as social or scientific advancement, often ushers in a host of “moral dilemmas.”
Sadly, the world’s woes are seriously affecting the Christian community. Situation ethics often take precedence over Scriptural mandates. Desensitization of Christians to moral maladies in some instances seems to be leading to tolerance of things that are hurtful to self and society in general. One doesn’t need to go far to find examples of this. Just listen to the tunes on you child’s iPod. Or, do a little checking to see whether or not there are “pirated” downloads on the family computer. George Barna reports that fewer that ten percent of teenagers believe that music piracy is morally wrong. Many wives have been shocked when the checked the browser history and discovered that it’s not just the neighbor’s husband that is visiting pornographic web sites. This should be no surprise, though. Family Media Safe reports that there are 4.2 million pornographic web sites. Additionally, there are 68 million daily pornographic search engine requests, which is 25% of total search engine requests. Listen to the language that has become the new normal and you’ll know what I mean. Watch the evening news and you, too, will wonder what this world is coming to?
Many followers of Christ are being seduced by worldliness and turning away from Christ and their faith communities. One area of particular concern is the alarming number of casual Christians who are nonchalant about their faith. Unless these precious souls experience significant change, they are, if trends continue tracking the same, not far from abandoning their faith altogether.
The state of “things” in the world should concern us. We live here. It’s our home—albeit temporarily. We certainly wish the world were a better place for ourselves and our children. But, this will not come about through human genius or wisdom. Only by yielding our hearts and heads to walk in step with the Spirit of God can we have any hope of seeing a better world in which to live and raise children.
Instead of shaking our heads in bewilderment and asking what this world is coming to, perhaps we should be asking, “What must we do to live as God would have us live in this world?” I can’t change the world, but open myself up to God so that He can change me into a more Christ-like person, according to Ephesians 3:16-17, through His Spirit working in my inner being.
The challenges of living in this sin-sick world are many. Perhaps the following suggestions will be of some assistance as we seek to walk in the will of God from day-to-day:
(1) Expect pressure from the world— The devil, our adversary, is at work in the world. As the devil sought to thwart Jesus’ service to God, so, now, he works against the Lord’s followers. He seeks to lead “the whole world astray.” (Revelation 12:9) What’s more dastardly, the devil seeks to destroy those who have decided to follow Jesus. Hence, the Holy Spirit counsels: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, stranding firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:7-8) To be forewarned is to be forearmed!
(2) Reject the ways of worldliness— The Scriptures say…
…You were formerly in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light….do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness… (Ephesians 5:8 & 11)
…Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)
…Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
…Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
It is clear. We are to reject the world and its ways. If we choose to go along to get along in this world, where will it lead us in eternity?
(3) Realize we are engaged in spiritual warfare— No soldier goes into battle unprepared. To do so insures defeat. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. It is, nonetheless, very real! Therefore, we must prepare for battle. We must take up the full armor of God. This will give us the necessary means to resist the wicked influences of the world and stand firm in the Lord. Read the words of Ephesians 6:10-18. Clearly, God has given us sufficient means of defense. Likewise, the Sword of the Spirit and the privilege of prayer are our means of mounting an offensive against worldliness. Let us arm ourselves and run to the battle.
Finally, remember two very important things—
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then can condemn? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The gospel remains the power of God for salvation. (Romans 1:16) Through this power, God delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13)
The second thing we need to remember is that although it sometimes appears the ways of worldliness prevail, “the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) So, always keep these two points in mind: Through Christ you can live victoriously in the world; and, ultimately, you will be delivered from the world.
© Bill Williams
July 24, 2006