Special Episode: Addressing America's Moral Condition

Peace to Live By Special Episode: Addressing America's Moral Condition - Daniel Litton
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       I hope everyone finds themselves in a good place today.

       Many people in our day and age try to approach the issues of life with their own wisdom—with what they feel is right in their own minds and with what they can see with their own eyes. Proverbs tells us, ““There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25, ESV). Some people look at things with worldly perspectives, considering only the natural realm that is in front of them. They fail to see God, and they miss half of the equation. They miss out on the spiritual things in life. Love often isn't explainable; it just often doesn't pass the reasoning test. Yet, many believe in love. We don't have logical answers to why certain things happen, when certain hardship strike and there is no apparent answer.

       Abraham Lincoln was a man who by the mid-point in his career in politics was very worldly minded. Though he had been raised to be a Christian, he really wasn't one, and this certainly by his own admission. He was an accomplished lawyer, and had been a U.S. Congressman for a couple of years. He had served in his home state of Illinois as a Congressman for about eight years. And through these different roles, he viewed everything in life through a scientific, earthly mind, based only on the things that pertains to the natural world. But after returning home to Illinois from Washington, and settling in with his family for a short time, his son became ill. And he waited for over a month for him to get better, but he didn't. He ended up dying.

       This loss in Lincoln's life really made him reconsider everything. It put him in a corner, having to live with the realization that he would never see his son again. And he and Mary Todd buried their son. After the funeral, the story goes that Lincoln questioned the minister about his faith, why he believed in God. And, the minister was ready to give a defense for his faith, and had even written a book on the matter, which he aptly let Lincoln borrow. And over a short period of time, after considering faith and the supernatural, Lincoln realized that God is real, and was convinced that Jesus had come to the earth and died for his sins. He saw that there was more to this life than just what is seen with the eyes (see Wheeler, 2008, pp. 108, 109).

       Just like Lincoln originally believed, there are many in our day and age who have adopted all the percepts that this world has to offer, while at the same time refusing to believe in anything supernatural. They don't believe in God, and have decided in their minds that God must not exist. And they have been aided with theories like evolution for the development of the human which has made them feel comfortable in their anti-god position. In fact, in recent times, our society here in the United States has become very accommodating to this type of thinking, and more and more people are adopting naturalistic perspectives about how they live, and these views certainly have influenced the world of politics.

       Indeed, many people are thinking about politics especially this year, considering it is a presidential election year. We have seen quite our fair share of news and political debate on the various matters of our days. And so, this year is important for us as a country. And it's important for those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Many of us are familiar with the issues. For some of us, we might even call politics a hobby of ours. I'm not so sure I want to say it's a hobby of mine—American history definitely is. But I do want to spend some time today discussing the current state of America and some of the issues that affect us a evangelical Christians.

       My job is not to be involved in civilian pursuits as God’s teacher—for the Apostle Paul makes that clear (see 2 Timothy 2:1-5). As these matters are on the hearts of many Christians and are definitely affecting us, that is, our emotions, it is good and proper for us to discuss them. This way, hopefully the Christian can perhaps feel comforted and maybe have a better understanding of the issues and how to respond or deal with them in their minds. My goal in our discussion today is to consider some of the views that are present in our current society, and I would encourage anyone who is listening and doesn't believe in Jesus to consider what is really reasonable and logical, in view of God and what he has to say about matters. My hope is that God will open people's hearts to his truth, like he did for Lincoln, and that anyone listening who currently does not believe will not keep his or her heart closed to what I have to say.

       I think when we as Christian Americans look at our country today, we often take a wrong perspective. We see the problems around us, the issues we are facing in our society, and we want to correct the wrongs we see, the injustices we face. And many want to turn to political means and ends in order to accomplish this task. As Americans, we have been taught to be activists, to fight for the freedoms we believe to be our own, those we believe we are entitled to. The evangelical sect of the Christian church has been greatly involved in the political process, so much so the the press has identified evangelicals as a formidable group, one that clearly has a voice in American politics and one the has clear positions to be upheld.

       We who believe in God, who know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, those of us who are in close, intimate relationship with God, we know that what we believe about the world is the Truth. We know that the Bible holds the keys to life. God has opened our eyes to see this. Later in his life, Lincoln stated, “In regard to the Great Book, I have only to say it is the best gift which God has ever given to man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All those things desirable to man are contained in it.” Truly, it is through Christ and his Word that we have life, and by his Word that we seek to bring others into his kingdom. God's power works through his Word and people's lives are changed. Anyone's life can be changed. Certainly, God wants to know everyone in the world on a personal level. He wants to have a personal relationship with each individual person.

       Heartbreak for us comes when we look at our current world and see that most of those around us don't practice the truth of the Gospel of our Lord. They don't believe that Jesus' way to God is the only way—if they even believe in God. They believe Christianity is just one way among many ways, that it's just one perspective among many perspectives. And that can be discouraging for us, especially considering we know we hold the truths to life. We know that if people would just believe, that they would be amazed at the life they would find, the happiness, the joy, and feelings of rest and peace. It is really an amazing thing to be in right and personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. We have complete access to him anytime we want to talk to him, or any moment we have a problem that we need help with. Anytime we are feeling down, we always have someone with us. We are never alone no matter what we feel.

       And I think also that part of our dismay at the corruption in morality that we see going on around is because we know what America used to be—we know its foundation and the roots of our liberty we so dearly enjoy. We know that most of our Forefathers believed in Jesus Christ, whether you consider the pioneers from some 400 years ago, or whether you consider our Forefathers at the beginnings of our government, this Republic. Even going through the 1800s to Lincoln, and many thereafter, those politicians unquestionably believed in and followed Jesus. There was great honor for Christ and his ways. The laws of this country were founded on his principles primarily, and his relationship with these men broke into an admirable form of government, none of which likes the world has ever seen. Democracy is truly impressive. And never until recently has there been any disagreement with the laws of this country and the Bible. So, we were easily able to call this democratic society our own Christian nation, and we have done so proudly.

       But over the last 50 years or so, things have taken a change into a whole different direction for our country. Christ's influence in people's hearts and minds has been on the dramatic decline, so that more and more people are being brought up and raised without Christ's influence and principles for living. And this has led to a dramatic downfall in the morality of our society and culture. It's amazing how people will follow rules in many areas of their lives, like at their workplace or while driving on the road, but when it comes to their personal morality, people want to believe there are no rules. They want to believe that they can just do whatever they want to, and that their choices are perfectly acceptable and good. And they have the ability to make those choices. But this so called 'sexual freedom' really doesn't make any sense at all. And we as Christian preachers of the Word of God seek to warn those who will listen that they are not free without consequence, judgment, both in this life, this world, and in the life to come.

       Sometime ago, I heard a sermon from John MacArthur, pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, in which he was discussing the downfall of the Bible and morality in our society, and I think he captured best the process by which this has occurred. He stated the following:

“First you have a government, a nation, a society, a culture that rejects the Bible. The next step is if you reject the Bible, you have no foundation for morality so you come up with a new morality which is to turn the old morality on its head. So you reverse everything. That’s the second step. Evil is good and good is evil. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, homosexual marriage, abortion, whatever it is, that’s acceptable in the new morality. Once you’ve rejected the Bible, you turn morality upside down. The third step is you cry for tolerance—tolerance, tolerance, tolerance. The next step is, the people who won’t give tolerance are not tolerated, so it turns to intolerance. And the fifth step is persecution. That’s where it’s going and it’s going pretty fast. I think we’ve worked through the rejection of the Bible; we’ve worked through the reversal of morality. We’re working past tolerance toward intolerance. And following the intolerance, for those of us who will not cave into this, is going to come the persecution. That’s going to put the pressure on the church and the true church will be faithful to its message no matter the price.” (MacArthur, 'Marks of Real Church Growth,' 2013).

       And so we stand here in our country today, one that is hard to recognize at times. As I already mentioned, never has there really been a time when the laws of our country so clearly violated God's universal, all encompassing laws. It definitely was true that some hundred and fifty years ago that America faced the huge moral dilemma of slavery, where people created in the image of God weren't even counted by our Constitution as whole persons. And we as Americans realized this slavery to be a great moral evil, one that many sought and fought valiantly to rid from our society. God never intended people bearing his image to be enslaved. This was something that man invented out of his own will, out of his own evil, sin-nature. But just as God rescued the Israelites from their slavery and bondage in Egypt, and rescued them by the hands of Moses, so God rescued the Americans who were enslaved by their fellow Americans. He used Abraham Lincoln and a host of other individuals to accomplish this task. And so everyone enjoys freedom today in our society, and the moral evil of slavery was abolished.

       Even though the unbeliever has the ability of choice in this life, he or she is still subject to God's morality, his standard for perfection. And God will judge anyone who does not meet that perfect standard. And we as Christians know, interestingly enough, that no one can in fact meet that standard by his own will and aptitude. No, Christ is the One who is our righteousness. By trusting in his death on the cross, and his resurrection from death to life, we have become the righteousness of God. The Apostle Paul told Titus, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-8, ESV). And the good news today is that anyone can have, can put on, Christ's perfect righteousness. Anyone can be declared and seen as right before God by trusting in the blood Christ shed on the cross on our behalf, becoming the perfect substitute before God for our sins against him.

       And just as Satan would have it, he has twisted some of the minds of individuals in our day and age into believing that the sexual practices of certain individuals in our society needs to be celebrated and honored. Often you will see that pro-homosexual advocates compare the events of the 1860s, the time of the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, as the same for their cause. But one must remember that God is against such sexual relationships. If one looks at the Old Testament, it is clearly seen that he destroyed two entire cities, and the surrounding areas, as Jude tells us, over the sin of homosexuality. And God clearly prohibits its practice in the New Testament. It doesn't follow his natural order for created beings. It is a perversion of behaviors between two people created in his image, and it is very offensive to him. He has provided a way for individuals to enjoy their sexuality in an institution which he ordained called marriage, which is between one man and one woman, and is supposed to be for life. Since marriage is a institution from God, gay marriage isn't possible because if it's not God approved, it's not a real marriage. And that even with a government backing. And so, God judges individuals who practice this sin, both in the here and now, and in the life to come, just as he judges people who practice other sexual sins, like those of fornication, adultery, and polygamy.

       It is interesting to think about the different between slavery and the pro-homosexual movement. The Founders had been blinded by the evil of slavery. And by the 1850s, people saw this and were seeking to abolish the practice of slavery. The pro-homosexual movement is the opposite. Practicing homosexuality is in fact evil and people are becoming deceived to that fact. And they are legalizing something that God is in fact against. So, it is the exact opposite to that of the freeing the slaves, not the same. The difference is that enslaving people was evil, while being against the practice of homosexuality is not. That’s God’s position. People in the past were seeking to make a legal-evil illegal; people nowadays are seeking to make an illegal-evil legal, and have in some ways already.

       But some say, "What's the harm in allowing people to practice homosexuality or other sexual sins in our society?" And the thinking goes that why does it matter what other people do if it's not hurting you or others? Well, for starters, certainly it is hurting God. After all, this is his creation and he wants people to be in right relationship with him. And, it hurts our society because it further brings God's providential judgment upon our nation. When a nation clearly celebrates evil, they risk God’s hand coming against them. And it hurts the people doing the sin because its not best for them and against what God has designed. Therefore, God brings his judgment upon individuals who practice sexual sin. And, it hurts any children involved, because God has designed for a child to be brought up by a mother and a father, not one parent or two mothers or two fathers. Even secular, unbelieving psychologists will argue the best home for a child to be in is with a mother and a father. A child learns different things from each sex. If he or she lacks one, the child will miss out in certain areas of development.

       And the so called 'freedoms' for practicing sexual sins isn't the only problem we face in our society, or the only contradiction we see in the law of our government. The nationwide legalization of abortion since 1973 has been a great moral evil that does not line up with Scripture and God does not approve of it. To think that such practices even exist in our country is really hard to wrap one's mind around. How could anyone really want to murder an unborn baby, a child? I do not understand that. I do not understanding why some women believe that just because the baby is inside their body, that they then have the freedom or the ‘right’ to choose what happens to him or her. But really it's because their minds are deceived, and still being in the fallen state, some want to play God. We must not forget that. I do understand that people find themselves in predicaments and maybe they just don't realize what they are really doing, but it is truly an abomination nonetheless. God is the one who creates life, and this at the moment of conception. God told the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament, ""Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (Jeremiah 1:5, ESV). You see, God is the one who crafts people in their mothers' wombs, and he intricately designs each individual, no matter how he or she was conceived. Life is very precious to God, and each person born is very important to him.

       But how are Christians to respond to those who openly practice the sexual sins and who feel that abortion is okay. Are we to turn our faces away from them, or even against them? No, for the Apostle Paul has told us, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world" (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10, ESV). We are to show love for those who aren't saved yet, and be kind to them, hoping to win anyone who will believe in Jesus. We are to build relationships with them. We have to remember that we too were former offenders before we were saved, for Paul again said to Titus, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3, ESV). We leave the judgment of unbelievers to God, as Paul also said, "For what have I to do with judging outsiders?... God judges those outside." (1 Corinthians 5:12a, 13a, ESV). We want people to chose Jesus, to believe in him, and gain a personal relationship with him.

       An issue many Christians are thinking about in our current time is that of religious rights. Christians want to be able to stand by their convictions without being forced to do something that is against their consciences. For instance, as most of us know Christian business owners want to be able to deny same-sex couples certain services because by rendering the services, they would be required to go against their consciences and sin against God. It's not that these Christians want to hurt anyone, they just want to protect themselves and be honoring and pleasing to God. It's unlawful according to our original setup of government to prohibit the free exercise of religion, yet there are those who wish to accomplish this and render the first Amendment null and void as we have know it for hundreds of years. Now, we even have corporations getting involved, threatening to deny certain states business for the practice of the first amendment. So, now, you have businesses within the United States affectively deciding law and morality, which should in and of itself be illegal (if it's not technically already) and is an abomination. It is anti-democratic and does not fall in line with the traditional beliefs of a democratic government.

       It's not until recently, again, that we have found laws within the United States to be in opposition to Christians' beliefs. To review, again, the first settlers were Christian and the United States was founded on Christian principles and beliefs. These facts are undeniable for an honest study of our Forefathers and their beliefs. But we as modern day Christians are finding ourselves in a new era where it appears that if things continue down the current path, we will indeed see persecution for our beliefs become a mainstream thing. So, we are having to re-gear our minds to prepare for this. I think people who advocate for sin believe that we are just going to cave in and go along with the incorrect beliefs and ways of life, and indeed some will, and in fact already have. Persecution always shows who the real Christians are versus who the pretenders are. But we who really follow Jesus know we are not going to give in. It may come to loss of finances and imprisonment, but we can't change our beliefs. God doesn't change with the times.

       Remember, though, this is nothing new. The early disciples faced serious consequences for following Jesus. They were beaten, and imprisoned, and even killed for standing for what they believed. Remember what the Apostle Peter told the council in Jerusalem when he and John were brought before them. It is written in Acts 4:

"So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:18-20, ESV).

They stood firm, and even though the peoples of those times resisted them, many believed, and many came into personal relationship with Jesus. Sometimes it takes hard times to bring people to God. This is both true collectively, as a country and a church, and individually, as persons.

       We, as Christians, though, can be hopeful for our future. There are many Christian politicians in our day and age, many in high places who stand for the truth and follow Jesus. We can hope that laws are passed to protect our rights, to prevent us from enduring hardships. I don't believe it is wrong to hope for this. In fact, it would be nice to see the United States go back the other direction, away from immorality and back toward following the ways of God, the ways of Jesus. But this is going to have to happen on a person-by-person basis, by leading one person to Jesus after the next. We don't know if there will be a third great awakening in this country, but there is always hope that there could be. We know that the letting go of morality is the downfall of any nation, as can clearly be seen in a quick review of world history. This is nothing new. These new immoral ways are not progressive; they are not smarter thinking for the future. It's happened before, and the results were devastating. Just take the Roman Empire as an easy example. I believe that if our Forefathers knew what was going on in our country today (and perhaps they do), they would be appalled, and rightfully so. To believe you're more American to promote great immorally is a huge error. The Founders, those whom created the country you love, would not have your back.

       In the same breath, though, we have to remember that ultimately the United States will end some day, or will turn against God at the end times. The Apostle John has recorded for us, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army” (Revelation 19:19, ESV). So, one day in the future all the countries that exist in the world will be against God, and Jesus will come against them with his army of angels. So, while we enjoy this country, and enjoy the benefits of living here, it is true that this setup is temporary. While democracy is a good form of government, it is not the form that God chooses to establish in the future. Eventually, God is going to establish his kingdom here on the earth with one ruler, Jesus Christ. Since this world belongs to God, he will setup his own government on the earth which abides by his rules. As the Apostle Paul stated, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24, 25, ESV).

       My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I leave you with these words from the old letter to the Church in Ephesus:

"For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:5-17, ESV).

       Perhaps you have been listening to what I have been talking about and you’ve been pricked in the heart by what I have said today, but you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. Maybe you realize that what I have said is true. Maybe you find yourself in the same shoes that Abraham Lincoln once did. You are a child of this world, but you realize that there must be more than the natural. There must be more than the physical things of life. You are coming to the realization that God must be real. He is opening your eyes. Well, if that's the case for you, I want you to know that anyone can have a personal relationship with God today through Jesus Christ. It is true that God wants to be in personal relationship with everyone in our world, but you need to make that choice today. No matter who you are, no matter how important or unimportant you think you are, God wants you to trust in him today.

       Indeed, God sent Jesus to the earth, some 2,000 years ago, and he died on a cross as yours and my substitute, in our place, for our sins against God and others. You see, God demands a payment for people's sins. None of us can ever make ourselves right with God. The only way for us to become right with God is by trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This is our only hope. By trusting in Jesus, you and I can experience true life, fulfilling life, that never goes away from us. If you've ever thought there has to be more to this life, that there is something missing in your life, Jesus is the answer you've been looking for. Trust in him today, and you will experience true and everlasting life. You can have peace of mind now, and peace forever forward into the future. And no one can take this peace away from you. It is an internal peace, and is given to us by our trusting in God.

       If you would like to believe in Jesus today the wrongs you’ve done in your life, and have a new life in him, free to live, then please follow my lead in this prayer:

       God, today I realize that I am separated from you. But I don’t want to be any longer. I do acknowledge that I’ve done many things wrong in my life, and I have tried to live life my own way. Today, though, I want to turn from doing life my way and accept your free gift of real life. I do believe that Jesus came to the earth and died on the cross from my sins. I believe he rose from the dead and is now is with you, God, in Heaven, Please change me God, and make me to have real life and a fulfilling life, free from all my sins. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Let us pray:

              Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity today to discuss some of the issues that are currently going on in our society. We must always remember that you are in control of our world, our country, and in fact, you are in control at all times. No matter what happens, you are with us, and your love surrounds us. Father, we do not have to fear things. We don’t have to fear the harm that any might bring against us, for you are with us. We know that you have bestowed blessings upon us for the sake of our Forefathers, for their faithfulness to you. And we eagerly expect the return of your Son, Jesus, who will take us up to be with him. Help us to keep this fact in mind, that Jesus can return at anytime.

              Help us, Father, as Christians to be honoring and pleasing to you, to take sin seriously and have a serious attitude about it. We know you do, and you tell us to be like you. And, I pray that if persecution comes to us, that we will endure it with a good and right attitude. And I ask that we will not fear it. I pray for those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior today, that you will build those individuals up in the newfound faith that they have in you and that you will teach them your truth, so that they might be at peace in their own minds, and now, pleasing to you. Father, please the minds of individuals in our country, and give them a heart for Jesus. Please bless us as we go about the rest of this day. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton

References:

MacArthur, John. 'Marks of Real Church Growth.' Grace Community Church, March 2013. Web: www.gty.org.

Wheeler, Joe. 'Abraham Lincoln, a Man of Faith and Courage.' New York: Howard Books, 2008. Print.