I read somewhere recently, "In these 'unprecedented' times, there is nothing new under the sun." Agreed.
God is creative. Satan is not. God is infinite; transcendent; eternal.
Good is defined, yet unlimited. Evil (on the other hand) is undefined and endlessly chameleon-like. Still, the more men change, the more they remain the same. Original sin perpetuates itself tirelessly. Every infraction is a lie. Every guilty pleasure is idolatry. Every nuance a perversion. Every vice anathema. Every rebellion an abomination.
Perhaps I'm just getting old. Maybe it's not that though. Maybe I'm actually getting weary. Could be both. But recently the recycled regurgitations of the father of lies has just about made me fit for a straitjacket. So, let me be exceedingly transparent here. No word games or noble diplomacy. No hiding behind riddles and nebulous obfuscations. Let's call a spade a spade. Let's not beat around the bush. Our American society and even the American church is diving and swimming in the muddy water of amoralism and celebrating the opaqueness of it all.
1. God made us male and female. God ordained heterosexual monogamous fidelity. Every pollution of His model is an evil act of defiance. The Bible condemns sex with animals, pedophilia, homosexual sex, adultery, sex prior to marriage, polygamy (also serial polygamy), prostitution, sensuous lust, and pornography. Don't excuse it. Don't pretend that your vice is innocuous while others are destructive. Any and all deviations from God's design need to be abandoned and condemned. Don't give me some speech about "grace" either. Of course God is gracious, but should we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid (Romans 6:1)! But of course, this problem is not new. The city of Sodom, the tribe of Benjamin, the empire of Rome, and countless others have destroyed themselves with alternative sexual preferences that defiled their societies beyond the possibility (or hope) of redemption.
2. God made us in His image. This is why we are commanded to love and respect our neighbor. A strike against another human is a strike against his or her Maker. Murder is sin. Abortion is murder. Hatred is the desire to do murder. Damning and condemning others with our vocabulary classifies us morally with murderers. Renaming an unborn human with some other term (fetus) and then cloaking the dismembering of those silent lives with a mantle of "pro-choice activism" or "feminism" is malicious malevolence. It is satanic violence of the worst kind. But then again, Pharaoh and Herod both decreed equal plot's against the innocent. There is nothing new under the sun. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
3. God declared that you (and I) can NOT serve Him and money at the same time (Luke 16:13). It is an impossibility. If we hold back our abundant financial resources (out of selfishness and materialism) when we can and should generously and cheerfully give tithes, offerings, and alms (gifts to the poor), then we invite God's judgment on ourselves. Again, don't give me some excuse about being delivered from the law. Of course we were delivered from the oppression of the law of Moses, but we were also empowered by the gift of the Spirit to live by a higher law; the law of love; the law of liberty. We are not freed TO sin; we are freed FROM it! Our theological stunts and contortions will not stand up to the scrutiny of the Scripture, much less the eyes of our impeccable Redeemer. He is the judge of the living and of the dead.
Need I go on? Yes, let's.
Forget the banes of our unregenerate culture. What about the distractions that persist in the church? Can we do without fancy and lengthy explanations here? I'm not in favor of legalism, but I AM in favor of holiness. I'm for extending great patience, tolerance, generosity, kindness, and many-many-many benefits of the doubt to new and young believers. I'm for lovingly and energetically inviting and welcoming the most despicable of all lost souls into our midst so that they might hear the gospel and be converted. But among Christians, who should know better, it seems that we are still ever and always dealing with distracting and destructive behavior.
Correct me if I'm in error! But the old leather-lung preachers who decried the evils of defiling our bodies with tobacco, of dulling our senses with alcohol, and of the dereliction of our duties by our lack of faithful church attendance - those men were not wrong. Can we please set aside filthy language (Colossians 3:8), immodest clothing, and petty gossip? Could we possibly add to our list of principles a proper disdain for ethnic prejudice, for political manipulation, and for any disrespect of authority? Could we admit that there is almost nothing worth viewing or listening to when it comes to the media produced by our secular culture? And let's give equal time to the condemnation of our own pride, fear, and hardness. And maybe I'm just scraping the surface?
The apostles struggled even as they were led by the Master Himself. And, we struggle too. But let us never make excuses for evil, and certainly let us not give up and give in to the constant barrage of the flesh against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). This is not about self aggrandizement and/or pharisaical self-righteousness (or at least, it had better not be). This is about learning to crucify the old nature with all of the desires that come along with it so that the nature of God in us can have complete freedom (Romans 6:12 & 13:14). This is not an easy thing. It IS a simple thing though. The fight will be ongoing and exhausting. But are you even on the battlefield?
It should be no surprise when the very popular and public figures on the fringes of conservative Christianity bow and kowtow to the myriad of modern demands on them to "play nice" with the immoral blights that permeate the upper echelons of power in our nation and that are trumpeted by nearly every voice on every prominent platform. Such characters are not our hope though. Such characters seem to feel obligated to avoid (or worse, to appease) the whines and cries of their enemies. They try to look and sound sophisticated and "open-minded" about the perversions of our day. But we are not of this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are told not to love the world (1st John 2:15) nor to make friendship with the world (James 4:4). That's not just dogma from the pulpits of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. That's doctrine from the New Testament. And if we find all of the dainties of this world incessantly appealing to us, then we either need a revival or regeneration in the first place.
Indeed, we look around us and complain that the more things change, the more they remain the same. But such should not be true of us. If any man - read that again - if ANY MAN be in Christ, he is (you are, I am) a NEW CREATURE. Old things are passed away. Behold! Look! All things are made new.
We may live in the Laodicean age of the church, but Jesus has still offered to come in and commune with any individual who will open the door and welcome Him in as Lord, Savior, Master, and Friend. It ought to be that the more things change IN us, the more things change AROUND us. Pray to God that it will be so. With you. And, with me.