|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
Michael L. King
You may have heard the old adage, “I can’t keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building a nest in my hair.” It is true that while living in the world, we cannot always control the environment in which we must live or what others do around us, but we can make sure that though living in it, it does not live in us. Paul gave the same caution to the Corinthians when admonishing them to “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
We must take note of the fact that the things which are produced by the world do not originate with God but come from the conniving and creativity of man and are not influenced by Heaven. The inspired John wrote, “For all that is in the world…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (John 2:16). John wrote on another occasion what Jesus had said, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:32).
Our original identity was with the world, having a fondness for the base and carnal elements of this world. When we become Christians, there is a “conversion” that takes place and there is a replacement that transpires when we “…put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). This change enables us to live in a world that is inundated with “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and lying.” Instead, the child of God conducts himself as one influenced from Heaven to practice “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing one another, and forgiving one another” (Colossians 3:12-13).
In the long ago, Isaiah served as a mouthpiece for God and gave warning that “your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:1-2). James also was trying to emphasize how a relationship with the world and its sin affected God by asking, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). It is no new thing that God’s people must contend with sin in the world. Isaiah told how God felt toward sin and how He would react to it. “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:11). The Lord’s sample prayer expressed the importance of avoiding sin. Jesus taught, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). The above verse is speaking of how God can help, but it behooves man to do his part to make sure that we remain protected from sin in the world.
Preparation is vital for keeping oneself unspotted from the world. Paul appealed to the Thessalonians to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). James presented a multi-point procedure for handling Satan and sin. He advised to “submit to God. Resist the Devil and He will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8).
It is a chore to live in a world infiltrated by sin without it becoming a part of our thinking and our lives. There is no magical immunity to the world’s effect upon us. Some good news is found in 1 John 4:4. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater that he who is in the world.” Despite the tremendous pull that the world has on us to draw us away (James 1:14-15), we have hope. John wrote to those struggling with the sin problem that God does not want any of us to sin, but if we do, we have an Advocate with God to help us and to take the brunt for our wrongs (1 John 2:1-2).
We have a way of keeping our relationship with God current. We can prevent sin by “walking in the light,” which helps us to maintain God’s approval. We must confess our sins, and the blood of Christ continues to be active, following the initial cleansing in the blood of Christ at conversion. “He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:6-9). Keep in mind that God hates sin, and we must avoid it!
Do We Have the Right to Be Wrong?
T. Pierce Brown
Years ago, I wrote an article dealing with the question of whether we have a right to do wrong. Today, I wrote a letter to the editors of some area newspapers suggesting some of the same thoughts. I sent this one in the form of an article for two reasons: 1. Everyone needs to understand the facts mentioned in the letter. 2. Every Christian needs to be aware of the tremendous opportunities available to you to write to the editor of your local paper and express some eternal truth. Many editors will not publish anything that seems to have biblical origin, but many will. If enough Christians would speak out when they have the opportunity on issues that are significant, we could be the kind of salt and light in the world Jesus desires. Remember that it is better to light one candle than merely to curse the darkness. If you are not willing to do that now, when will you?
I have had over three dozen letters published in various papers, most of them calling attention to some biblical principle. I have sent the letters to every member of Congress, every major newspaper and many radio and TV stations in the United States. How much good it will do, we do not know, but that is God’s business. Ours is to sow the seed; His is to give the increase. He will if you will. Here follows my last letter to “the Editor.”
One reason for our social problems is our failure to distinguish between right and rights. That is, one may have the right to stand on the street corner and shout that 2 x 2 = 5 or that the earth is flat, but he is wrong.
Today, many seem to think that the Supreme Court can give us the right to practice abortion or to take away our right to pray. The Justices can declare the legality of any activity, but they cannot give rights. Our founding fathers properly stated, “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Only our Creator can properly give us rights or remove them.
Having a “right” may only mean the freedom to choose, but not that the thing is right of itself. God gave Adam and Eve the right (freedom) to disobey, but not the moral right. In that sense, we all have the right to be wrong. One may have a moral right (even a responsibility) to do a thing for which he has no legal right. Civil disobedience is only morally right when the law prohibits our doing something that God demands (not merely what He permits), or commands us to do something which God prohibits.
For example, we have the God given right (and responsibility) to protest the killing of unborn babies. That does not give us the moral or legal right to burn down an abortion clinic or to kill the doctor who does the immoral act. If the law banned the use of a Christmas tree in any public place, we have the right to protest, but we have no right to disobey, for God did not command the use of a Christmas tree anywhere.
Failure of theologians, politicians and the media to emphasize these truths has done great damage to the moral fibers of our nation.
[Editor’s Note: In the USA, its citizens have the legal right to publicly express their dissent. The legal right afforded by law does not itself bear upon whether a given thing is biblically right or wrong (sinful). Christians are obligated to act upon—for or against—something based upon whether it is biblically right or wrong. Hence, the apostles refused to obey the order to cease preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 NKJV). We must not be confused between constitutional rights and what is biblically right. Furthermore, we need to act out our Christianity in various ways—Christian living, Christian service and being proactive in conveying to the world in which we live what is biblically right. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]