Many Christians are grumbling about the condition of the world and our nation. Yours truly pleads guilty to this as well. It’s easy to find the fault in an unbelieving culture and with the champions of sinful behavior.
But how many of us have withstood the onslaught of depravity? It’s been much easier to retreat to the comfort of our own safe spaces within the walls of church and home, where (so far) the world’s intrusions have been less oppressive. In this passive response to the evils of the world, we essentially have conceded victory to the powers of darkness.
It is not enough that Christians piously exercise our faith behind closed doors, out of touch with the fallen world in which we live. If it were so, there would be no need to provide us the full armor of God, as the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 6. We are given these protections (the shield of faith) and weapons (the sword of the Spirit) to use, not to store them in the closet.
Indeed, as Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote more than 200 years ago, “Our present business is to withstand the assaults of the devil…” Christianity is not a suicide cult. We are called to withstand evil. To defend against it. To repel it.
Christians certainly will face martyrdom and persecution in this world where we constantly are assaulted:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
But God has not left us defenseless.
“The word of God is the sword of the Spirit…” Ephesians tells us.
Scripture arguments are the most powerful arguments to repel evil and the legion of demons who operate in this world, spreading their lies and heresies. When Satan himself sought to prevail over Christ, he offered Him worldly temptations. Jesus responded by citing God’s Word: “It is written…”
It is not a coincidence that speaking the Word of God is increasingly restricted, even prohibited, in so many realms of our society.
When we act contrary to God’s laws and against His will, we bring adverse consequences upon ourselves. The Bible calls this “judgment.”
In our nation we the people are the government. When we as individuals and collectively as our government act contrary to God’s laws, we should expect the same consequences that the Lord delivered to King David, who acted contrary to God’s law as a man and as the head of Israel’s government.
David knew better, yet he yielded to Satan.
“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)
There was a price to pay for conforming to evil and disobeying God. The consequences were bad. Israel was cursed with pestilence.
“But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. … So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell’.” (1 Chronicles 7, 14)
Can we expect God to overlook our individual and our nation’s collective willful disobedience? As we in the church have chosen to “tolerate” evil even when it is thrust in our face, and as we as a nation have normalized sin, bestowing on evil acts a constitutional protection of the law, can we really expect God to overlook our willful disobedience?
On what basis can we expect God to be as merciful to us and to our nation as He was to King David and his nation?
Notice that King David repented of his sin.
“And David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing’…” (1 Chronicles 21:8)
Consequently, God withheld the capital punishment Israel and its government so richly deserved.
And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people”. (1 Chronicles 21:16-17)
Have we in our nation willfully sinned? The question is rhetorical. Indeed, our sins, individually and collectively, if anything are more akin to Sodom and Gomorrah’s than to David and Israel’s. There was no repentance in Sodom and Gomorrah, and we know how that worked out.
David repented, as a man and as the head of his government. God responded mercifully.
“Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.” (1 Chronicles 21:27)
Have we repented as individuals or as a nation?
The fact is not only do we and our nation persist in willful disobedience, we in large part refuse to don the armor of God to withstand the world’s evils. Instead, we embrace them. More with each passing day and with each successive session of Congress and state legislatures.
Can we honestly expect the Lord to command His angel of justice to put his sword back into its sheath and spare us His wrath?
It’s a message as old as scripture, but one worth repeating. Withstand worldly evil, don’t merely co-exist with it. Expose the world’s lies as the evil they represent. Do not accommodate sin, or endorse it, or tolerate it. Too often we have accommodated, endorsed and tolerated it, and the consequences have been bad.
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5:5-7)
Put on the armor of God so that you can withstand evil. Defend against it. Repel it. Or expect the consequences.