Indeed, we live in perilous times! One quick read through the beginning of Second Timothy chapter three and one would think the Apostle Paul was looking through a time portal, straight into the heart of the United States of America 2023. Midwest values have shrunk, the Bible belt has loosened, and our spiritual pants, nationally, have slipped down, exposing our nakedness and shame. Yet, like Daniel’s spiritual description of Israel in chapter nine of his book, we have such “confusion of face” many, perhaps most, don’t feel the shame that is rightfully ours. (Jeremiah 6:15 gives a fuller description.)
Today’s perilous times did not happen in a vacuum nor did they come about overnight. What happened nationally is what happens individually when we do not keep (hold as precious and live by) the Word of God, the transcending eternal truth which rules the temporal world God has created.
The spiritual decay of this once great nation has led to our moral decay, which, in turn, has led to our great national weakness. Like a once strong and stalwart tree which has been decayed from within, America looks strong, but when the right storm comes along, that tree – our nation – will come crashing down “and great [will be] the fall of it.” (Matt. 7:24-28)
To catalog our national atrocities would take more room and more energy than I have. Suffice it to say that we were a nation which was founded upon godly principles; we were a “light shining on a hill.” However, because of our sin, what once was is no longer and that light is now so very dim, if not snuffed out altogether. Make no mistake, there are individuals and some churches whose light continues to shine, but, nationally, we are divided, in chaos, “truth is fallen in the street” and righteousness has been run down next to it.
We must look to the future Biblically, recognizing what will be the lot (notice: I did not say the end) of those who will walk in the way of God, instructing others in godliness, making Christ alone their hope and refuge. Isaiah warns: “he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.” (59:15) And Paul, after sharing his experiences, states plainly, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12)
That’s plain enough; what, then, can we do? The only thing we can do – give those around us the answer they need regardless the cost. Light is the answer to darkness; salt is the answer to corruption; bread is the answer to hunger.
Jesus is the answer for our dark, corrupted, hungry, nation and world – not just for today; Christ and His way have ALWAYS been the answer! But, what’s the real question?
The question isn’t, “How can I have a better life” or “How can I improve my family, nation, or world situation?” The question is, “How has my Creator commanded me to live?” and “How can I best glorify, honor, and praise Christ?” In other words, is Christ (Christianity) a means to an end or is He the end?
J. Gresham Machen hauntingly lays out this poignant truth which begs the question, moving us to penetrating self-examination: “Are we using Christ or are we allowing Christ to use us?” for what is Christianity but Jesus living in us and through us; it is not merely a political, national, or familial fix-all.
“Christianity will indeed accomplish many useful things in this world, but if it is accepted in order to accomplish those useful things it is not Christianity. Christianity will combat Bolshevism; but if it is accepted in order to combat Communism, it is not Christianity: Christianity will produce a unified nation, in a slow but satisfactory way; but if it is accepted in order to produce a unified nation, it is not Christianity: Christianity will produce a healthy community; but if it is accepted in order to produce a healthy community, it is not Christianity: Christianity will promote international peace; but if it is accepted in order to promote international peace, it is not Christianity. Our Lord said: ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you’ (Matt. 6:33). But if you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in order that all those things may be added unto you, you will miss both those other things and the Kingdom of God as well.” (Christianity and Liberalism; p. 162)
What are our motives in presenting truth to the culture? Are we loving God and others or are we loving ourselves, hoping for self-preservation and longing to simply conserve what once was? Are we promoting Jesus or is it self-promotion by using Him?
Throughout our nation’s history, and today, there are those in authority who have, nationally, “sold us down the river,” undermining us politically and spiritually for earthly gain. They will one day stand before the Judge of all the earth, answering for what they have done. Let us take great care that we aren’t similarly, yet unwittingly, doing likewise in promoting a political or spiritual point for temporal gain.
Puritan writer Ezekiel Hopkins makes my point: “Our souls are worth more than ten thousand worlds and yet we seek to gain a small part of this one. The god of this world has blinded man’s eyes and cast a strange mist before them so that they cannot discern what is very evident: namely the instability and vanity of all earthly enjoyments. Whatever God has made is good, but if it is considered the greatest good, it turns into vanity. It is vain to expect happiness and contentment from the world whose crosses are greater than it comforts. There are two seasons especially when the soul needs relief and comfort; when the conscience is troubled and in the hour of death. In each of these the world is vain and useless. Should the never-dying soul be neglected? Alas! Most busy themselves to heap up temporal riches. But this is giving the souls husks. Our Saviour brands the rich man a fool when he stuffed his barns with corn at the neglect of this soul. What folly it is to purchase a vain world at the loss of our precious souls! What great losers they are to gain the world, and then at last lose the world with their souls!”
As perilous times increase and as “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived;” as good is called evil and evil is declared good, making sin to abound, “the love of many shall wax cold.” Increased numbers will trade their souls in exchange for a perishing world. There will be precious few who will depart from evil in such times and fewer yet who will live godly in Christ Jesus. As I’ve pointed out, persecution shall be their lot, but, if they are in Jesus, not their end.
One such man who has departed from evil is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. At the beginning of his embattled career, the Left attempted to kill his confirmation with fraudulent sexual harassment charges. Today, as Gary Bauer reports, “The neo-Marxist left has launched yet another jihad against Justice Clarence Thomas. This time, multiple left-wing journalists with nothing better to do are digging into his friendships, examining his vacation travel and the most absurd details of his personal finances.”
Justice Thomas has been made a prey. These smear campaigns are fueling the Left’s call for investigation and impeachment, regardless of his love for the USA, our Constitution, and faithful jurisprudence.
One needn’t be a Supreme Court justice to be persecuted simply stand on the truth, living a holy life, and, in these perilous times, animosity as you’ve never witnessed will search you out. Truly stand for Jesus, not simply to preserve a way of life. I exhort you to shore up your soul today; it’s the only thing of real value you possess.
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