Monday, March 6, 2023

The Danger Within

Voices in the church warn about dangers from outside forces – “liberal” politicians, “woke” ideology, fanatical environmentalists, the “gay agenda,” and the like. Forces that are destroying society, perverting the culture, and undermining the “Judeo-Christian” values on which this country was founded.

Church Interior - Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
[Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash]

I remain unsure exactly what “Judeo-Christian” values are. The term is a recent invention born out of partisan politics and expediency. Regardless, this line of thinking derives from the presumption that the United States of America is God’s great exceptional nation, a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world, or at least, was so once upon a time.

Jesus certainly included a political aspect in his teachings; namely - the “kingdom of God” – a reality that demands our absolute allegiance. But regardless of our various conceits, America is not the kingdom of God. It is not the church. Not only is it not identical to or closely allied with Christianity, but it also is not even Christian.

Nowhere in the country’s founding documents does the government acknowledge or submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ, therefore, it is other than Christian. If Jesus is NOT our Lord, we do not belong to him.

And references to “nature’s god” are generic and echo Deist ideas. They do not refer to the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Like all other existing nations, the United States of America and its political system are part of the fallen world order that has been judged already on Calvary. The nations of this age are under the “god of this world,” Satan, which explains a great deal.

And the day is coming when only one political entity will be left standing, the “kingdom of God.” One way or another, all others will cease to exist. The only way for anyone to escape the coming judgment is through the “faith of Jesus Christ.”

So, why are we so shocked by the proliferation of sin in American society? Why are we surprised when sinners sin?

And the worsening of sin only demonstrates that the nation is already under the “wrath of God.” Having refused to “acknowledge God as God,” He has delivered us over to the very sins for which we lust and revel. The existing order is winding down to its inevitable demise, apparently, engaging in an orgy of self-destruction on its way to the “lake of fire.” Not only does sin dominate our society and culture, but it also can not be otherwise.

And, yes, the New Testament warns us against temptation from without and tells us to expect persecution for the sake of the gospel. After all, “all those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

Be that as it may, what the New Testament consistently and loudly warns about is the infiltration of the church by deceivers. For example, when John refers to the “spirit of Antichrist” that already is at work in the world, he points to false teachers within the church to prove his point.

At the outset of his Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned that “many deceivers will come and deceive many.” And in the Greek sentence, the term “many” is quite emphatic. Deceivers and false prophets will cause the love of many believers to turn cold, and they will target the very “elect” with their false teachings and false claims about the “coming of the Son of Man” - (Matthew 24:4-11, 24:23-24, 24:26).

Likewise, Paul warns of the coming final “apostasy” and the “man of lawlessness” who will appear in the naos theou, the “sanctuary of God,” a term he applies consistently to the church, not to a building “made with hands” in Jerusalem - (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

This “Lawless One” will use “lying signs and wonders” to deceive those “who do not welcome the love of the truth.” And if we wish to understand what Paul means by “the truth,” we need only read a little further - the apostolic “traditions taught” by Jesus and his apostles. Only by cleaving to them will believers avoid the coming deception and apostasy.

Likewise, Paul warned Timothy that in the latter days some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” “Howling imposters” will wax worse and worse, “deceiving and being deceived.”

Peter also warns us that in the future there will be false prophets and false teachers in the church who will teach heretical doctrines, and many believers will “follow their pernicious ways; and by whom the way of truth shall be defamed. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.”

Whether intentional or coincidental, Peter’s words fit today’s prosperity gospel and its offshoots ‘to a T,’ and certainly many preachers, pastors, prophets, and apostles are “making merchandise” of the sheep and discrediting the gospel and the gifts of the Spirit.

The church is called to endure persecution, not to avoid it. Certainly, some believers will compromise and even abandon their faith during dark times. Nevertheless, it is in those very difficult moments that faithful believers will shine brightest. After all, we are “destined for tribulation,” and we are to “count it all joy” whenever we are found “worthy to suffer for his name.”

It is not the further degradation of a fallen society’s morals or even persecution by wicked men that will (potentially) destroy the church and cause the final great “falling away,” but the deceivers and deceptions that are actively working in the body of Christ.

And the warnings in the New Testament are no longer that – they have become reality in the churches of America where a true prophet or apostle of God is a rare commodity, and the voice of the teacher who knows God and His word struggles to be heard.