August 3, 2013

An Axe To Grind

If the Bible is anything it is a book of boundaries. There is a boundary between a holy God and an unholy humanity. There are boundaries between right and wrong, morality and immorality, good and evil. The boundary between  God and man remains, unless one trusts in the promises of God given in the Bible about the fact that He gave His only Son for our sins. It is the other boundaries mentioned that are troubling me for this post. The violation of the boundaries between right and wrong and good and evil by sinful, fallen and depraved humanity. They are boundaries that are beginning to come down and this is especially evident in our modern society. They are some boundaries that should remain as the Bible clearly points them out in the realm of morality. They were embedded in the Law of the Old Testament and their principles carried over to the new covenant in Christ as morality speaks of God’s nature. If a Christian is to be holy because God is holy…we are also to be moral. The Bible outlines that morality for all to see. When it is ignored, it stands as an affront to holiness and God’s Kingdom. In the lack of morality, all Hades breaks loose.

…and this is exactly what we see today all around us.

The boundaries that had been set up since time immemorial and were adhered to in a biblical manner are being torn down and disposed of like yesterday’s garage at an alarming rate. The truths of Scripture are being relegated to bins labeled antiquated, irrelevant and backwards. This is not unlike what we saw in the time of the prophets in the Old Testament when the people of God turned away from Him and quickly fell into abhorrent abominations, sin and apostasy. It is ironic that the slide in modern times is nearly identical. The problem is that most modern people will not even read the Bible to see the fact that the repeat of history is occurring again similar to biblical times. Many that do read it, including self-proclaimed Christians read and do not believe half of what they read. If they did, they would see that the exact types of sins a few thousand years removed are creating the same disintegration of society now as it occurred then. Meanwhile we as a society run blissfully for the precipice of the cliff blind to the danger even though we have historical documentation in the Bible to show the dangers of what we are doing.The definition of insanity is doing the same things the same way expecting a different result. So what Ecclesiastes essentially tells us is that humanity is prone to repeated stupidity and this is due to their fallen sinful depravity.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 ~ "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

We see the erosion of the family unit until it is becoming nearly non-existent in some quarters today. We see the boundaries between sexual morality and immorality torn down. We see people turn aside in droves to all forms of sexual immorality including adultery, homosexuality, and so on. We have seen racial tensions rekindled for no other reason that to keep corrupt leaders in seats of power.

As a whole, humanity thinks it is advanced yet we are as backwards as we ever were. It is ironic that the one thing that could move society ahead is abandoned in pursuit of technological advances that we think will save humanity but only succeed in condemning us further.  Medical advances lead to more efficient killing in abortions and genetic manipulation of the very building blocks of life turn God's very good creation into Frankenstein-esque monstrosities. Mechanical and scientific advances lead to more efficient implements of war and mass killing. The "improvements" in psychology, psychiatry, thinking and reason lead to more convoluted and debased sinful thinking that drifts farther afield from God and the Bible.

We abandon the one thing that can literally save us in favor of our own wisdom (1 Corinthians 1-3 anyone?). We may have the ability to prolong a life through medical advances but the more important question is: What kind of life is it? What are we prolonging the life for?  Do we prolong our lives to live longer in our immorality and sin? Do we get more time to slip farther away from a holy God in our apostasy? Or do we do things to glorify God while the additional time is allotted to us here on earth? Another question that should be pondered is this: Is it really just the technology that allows us to survive or is it God’s mercy and grace (or both)? The truth is the unrepentant people that do not seek God only survive alive without judgment through God’s abundant mercy and patience. He stays His hand so they can take another breath.

We live in an uncertain age. People are scared. The rock-solidness of the truth is been removed from sight and the anchor of biblical truth has been shoved into a dark corner in our culture. It seems all are looking for stability in an ever shifting morass of moral ambiguity. Slowly but surely people are turning away from the one Constant in this world and beyond it. The immutable or unchanging God who was the same God that called Israel back to Himself under frighteningly similar circumstances…yet they ignored Him. So what became of the Israelite people?  They were crushed and scattered in the Jewish diaspora and there they remain. Are we to fair any better? 

Deuteronomy 30:17-18 ~ But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

At some point God stops speaking though His people or His church and He switches to speaking through wrath and judgment. We see this when he sent His prophets and then crushed Israel via Assyria. We see the same 136 years later when Judea falls to the Babylonians. We in this country are guilty of the exact same things they were. We see history repeat.

Do we get a pass because we are more modern or technologically advanced? I think not.  I actually believe that judgment is already afoot in our nation and others misguided nations like it.

Amos 5:11-14 ~ You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. Seek good, not evil, that you may live.

How do we know judgment has come? The very beginning of judgment starts subtlety. So it was it is now. God gives people over to their sin and it consumes them. The very thing they take the most pleasure in becomes their own personal Hell. We see it all around us in society. The sins are becoming manifold. Not only are they readily accepted, they are approved of by others and laws are now being passed to not only normalize the overtly sinful behaviors but also to silence those who would dare to resist those sins in obedience to God. For fear of retribution, many have gone silent.

2 Chronicles 15:2 He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness

If we read the remainder of Romans 1:21-32 we see a detailed and explicit explanation of verse 18.

Romans 1:21-25 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie...

This is further compounded...sin multiplies sin.

Romans 1:28-30 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy...

Do we not truly see these last verses in our world today? Are these sins not more pronounced than they have ever been? So where do we turn? We need to turn back to God but I suspect that will not happen and the slide away from Him will continue. People will continue to ask the same question: Why are things getting so bad in society?  I will say the same thing at some later date and I will get the same blank stare I get today. With no absolute anchorage point we will drift further towards the dark abyss and uncertainty.

Isaiah 26:1-6 ~We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. Feet trample it down—the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.

In this Isaiah 26 passage we a similarity to Amos 5 earlier. It is a passage that speaks of the humble, poor and downtrodden being lifted up by God after they have been mistreated by those in power or those who “dwell on high”. We see only judgment from God for those "on high" in crooked leadership and people who take advantage of the less fortunate. The messed up thinking of the leadership is the judgment on leadership as they have been given over to their insane sinful thinking. Furthermore, the crooked leadership is the judgment on the huddled masses and middle America. It's all tied together.

But...God will lift up the obedient and meek in spirit. Why? Because  the poor, the meek in spirit and the lowly of the world are always on God’s radar. It gives pleasure to God to show the arrogant for the fools they are. It is the meek that are lifted up while He will also judge the wicked and those who misuse or abuse power. The smart person is the one who remains silent and keeps a low profile in this modern culture (Amos 5). It is well advised to do so unless called by God to do otherwise in things such as evangelism and spreading of the Gospel. Yes, the world will hate us. Where we come in contact with the world and the world attempts to usurp God’s authority, it is then we are called to resist if only in our own behaviors and own lives through the very obedience God calls us to in Scripture. 

What we are also called to is to not be anxious about the things we see around us in the failing society and culture. Restated another way, we are not to purposely and directly fight the things in the culture that run astray from the Bible except through the expounding of the Truth. This is where a lot of Christians get it wrong. Active political rebellion and upheaval is not what Jesus did, nor should we. What Jesus did do and we should also do is teach the Gospel-The Word of God. We are to teach repentance and turn from sin while simultaneously turning back to God. It is in this we that we win the world. We are vastly more productive giving people the tools they need to fight the sin (the Gospel), than us actually going out and trying to fight each individual sin as it rears its ugly head in our culture through political and sociological means.

Sin wants to have its day in the light but does not what to be seen or identified for what it is…sin. It wants to be viewed as someone's "rights", "choice" or "alternative lifestyle".  In this way the sin and evil can still stay in the shadows unrecognized as the sin that it is but still have its damning and condemning effects on the individual and society as a whole. This is why sin is now winning in the wider battle. Sin is not recognized as sin anymore. The only way to fight this spiritual battle against the power and principalities of the world that are this clever is by letting God do it through His Spirit in the preaching and teaching of the Gospel and truths of Scripture. Therein is where the power lies. If we do not let the Gospel lay the ax to the root of this sin, God will lay his ax to our nation. I believe we may have seen quite a few of these ax blows already and the dried, fruitless and shriveled tree teeters on the verge of falling completely into the fire of judgment.

As for us as Christians, we must focus on doing what we’ve been called to do: Evangelism. We need to focus on that which is righteous and holy and disregard what is not. We need to do that which is the best reflection on God to glorify Him. This certainly does not mean following the world. We need to walk by faith, not by sight. Our lives and churches need to be Christ-centered. We must focus on strengthening our families based in the Word of God to make them as invincible to the world as possible. These Scripture strengthened families are then the basic building blocks of society...without them there will be no society. 

When the family unit has been strong, so too has the nation. When it is not strong the nation suffers or declines. This was brutally evident in Israel and it is brutally evident today in the United States. The correlation between broken families and broken society is direct and a 1:1 ratio. When half of the marriages and homes are broken…so too is half of the nation. We must control the gates between the world and our families. We must not let the predators of the world in to ravage our families through their twisted logic, philosophies and sin. This includes a government that feels the need to impose itself on the family unit. Fathers must be fathers and provide their rightful role. Women must be women and provide their rightful role. Woman should not be the provider of both roles as single mothers. Men should not provide the female role nor the female the male. This is a twisting of the natural order and a cause of unnecessary strife.

We must remain anchored in the Word and sound doctrine. We need to remain Kingdom-focused and realize it is Jesus that will bring the Kingdom, not us. We must protect these biblical truths and values at all costs, even with our lives because without these values we have no life…we have only condemnation and eventual death. We must work to build our families, not destroy them or ignore them. We need to educate our children in the truths of Scripture (and adults where needed...which seems to be everywhere now). Where these opportunities arise we must take them up as our task to complete, not our pastor's or someone else’s. If we don't, a corrupt godless government most certainly will and already has. The results have been devastating.  If we work at these root issues by having Scripture at the base, maybe, just maybe we can rebuild society and get the desired results in our leadership also. If not…we should not be surprise to see chips fly in all directions when the swing of Lord’s ax of judgment strikes the base of a dying tree. Every chip representing another unrepentant sin that God will judge a nation for through ax blows.

Matthew 3:10 (Luke 3:9) ~ "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

We can do nothing and expect a positive righteous result unless we do it in the Lord. If we keep our current course...God will continue have an ax to grind with us. When He is done grinding that blade it will be razor sharp and ready for use.

Psalm 127:1 ~ Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

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