WILL THE RIGHTEOUS BE PUNISHED WITH THE WICKED IN AMERICA?

Q: (Excerpt from e-mail.) I used to believe with all my heart that as long as I lived my life to please HIM, I would not be subject to His wrath over the immoral filth that this country is embracing such as abortions and gay marriages. I used to believe that the righteous were set apart from the wicked and I guess in a way, protected. Will the righteous be punished with the wicked? Does the destruction of this nation also mean the destruction of the righteous as causalities of war? I feel lost. I don’t know how else to put it and my faith is unsteady. I don’t like that feeling and I have a fear that I have never felt before. Can you put any of this in perspective?

A: It will take a bit to answer your questions to bring a proper perspective. First of all let me assure you that you are not alone in your distress. I had the same intense struggle, but it happened seven years ago. There are many in America who are struggling with what is going on in this nation. You are no doubt like Lot was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was vexed in his spirit over the evilness surrounding him (2 Peter 2:7-9). Such wickedness can all seem so hopeless and overwhelming, even for the most committed Christian. I wish I could say that if the right person became president, everything could be reversed. However, there is one problem. The Bible is clear about the environment that will exist in the end days. It states both a warning and a promise in Matthew 24:12-13, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

       As Christians we need not be shocked at the days we are living in. We were warned that before Jesus comes back, it would be like the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39). In the days of Noah, people were living their lives as usual, but it tells us that every imagination of the thoughts of the heart were evil continually, the earth was corrupt (leadership) and filled with violence (no regard for life). Since the people had no fear of God in Noah’s days, they were indifferent to the warnings that God’s judgment was coming upon the face of the earth. The second epistle of Peter tells us, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:5).

     What you are feeling right now is a natural reaction to the wickedness that has been clearly taking center stage in this country and throughout the world. Proverbs 14:34 gives us this valuable insight, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”

       I believe that one of the problems we as Christians have in America is what I refer to as the “apple pie in the sky philosophy” that has been embedded into our psyche. For example, “Bad things do not happen to good people.” “The men in white hats always win.” “If we don’t like what is happening in our government, we can change it at the next election cycle.” “If the right political party is in control, it will stop our country from running off the moral and financial cliff.” “America is a great country, who has experienced God’s blessings and will continue to do so in spite of sin because it is still the most giving, compassionate, caring country that offers freedom to the oppressed and asylum to the persecuted.” As Americans, we have taken great pride in the patriotic ideas that have been passed down to us, but the assumption that this greatness will always last because we are America is not realistic. It has caused some of us to operate in wishful thinking, and caused us to sit on our laurels, while thinking that our nation will never be brought to the depths of despair and ruin. We pride ourselves that since we remain the most giving, helpful country that surely God will not let us fall.

       The problem right now is that our country is quickly being reduced to a mere proverb. We have been watching the dismantling of our country from the top down (wicked leaders), and from the foundation upward (throwing God out of the arena and making morality a mockery). Our Constitution has been shredded by lawless leaders. It seems that many of our congressmen live in the Washington bubble, losing sight of their real mission. At best, they have fine-tuned their political posturing and their talking points, while they play games with each other to give the impression that they are standing for something, when in fact they stand for nothing while they sell their souls on the various auction blocks erected by special interests groups, betraying the trust of those they are to represent.

       The moral fabric that kept this country distinct (God and righteous laws) is being stomped on, often outlawed by treacherous strokes of a pen, mocked by indifference from lawmakers, sacrificed on the altars in the name of rights gone amuck and political tolerance, and disregarded by justice which is bent on pushing perverted agendas on the masses. So what is the real crux of the matter? Have we Americans put too much confidence in a system that is clearly being controlled by the god of this world, Satan? Have we exalted men that are clearly subject to a fallen nature, and have we presumed that there are enough checks and balances to keep the justice system in check when it fails to uphold the law and becomes one who throws righteousness out the door while promoting immorality? Are we upset because our choices for president come down to a business man who presents a confusing message and does not adhere to political posturing and correctness that will sell it, a wicked dynasty that is power-hungry, and a deluded Socialist that has no regard for those aspects that made America great? Are we distressed because we are being forced to accept the horrible reality that our wicked government is not our savior but our enemy, the majority of congress seems to be selling us out for 30 pieces of silver, that our freedom is no longer valued by the upcoming generation that has been dumbed down by communistic, immoral educators, and that justice for the most part has become a mockery? How many of us are waking up to the fact that if we are honest with ourselves, we failed to recognized that this country has been systematically brought to this sad place for at least the last hundred years by both political parties, as God was being removed out of every arena, while we Americans maintained our “pie In the sky” optimism and waved our flags, talking about greatness and freedom because it has not yet hit our pocketbooks or our 401ks? Yet, a nation without God is a nation that has lost its real substance, luster, and glory and is sliding towards destruction.

       The Bible tells us everything that can be shaken will be shaken (Hebrews 12:26-27). The fruits we are now seeing in our nation are shaking every “apple pie in the sky” notion we Americans may have been clinging to, causing the faith we have put into our government and its leaders to take a nosedive into the pit of hopelessness. In other words, our point of reliance is failing us; our point of assurance has betrayed us, and the fruits and consequences this country is now experiencing is deferring any hope we had about preserving the American way of life.

       As far as what we as Christians are now witnessing and experiencing in our country, we need to understand that our nation is now tasting the consequences of its various abominable sins. It is clear that God is not blessing this nation and as a result, it not only has lost credibility on an international front, but its various national institutions from family, government, education, and the economy are collapsing from within, while being consumed by wickedness.

       However, God’s judgment and wrath are two different things. Judgment means separation and wrath means anger. Each time God shakes this nation in a type of judgment, it is to wake up His people so they will choose the ways of faith towards Him and start preparing themselves to stand in the midst of the storms that are and will bring tribulation with them. This brings me to a very important point. Tribulation is not wrath but anguish, travailing, and sorrow. Jesus stated that we would have much tribulation in this world, but we are not to fear for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). 1 John 5:4-5 tells us that if we are born of God we will overcome the world by our faith in the Son of God. Acts 15:22 states, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

       Wrath is also not the same as persecution. Although persecution is beginning where the IRS and Christian businesses are concerned, Christians in America have not yet suffered persecution for their faith as is the cases of many other Christians throughout the world. In the last century more Christians were tortured and killed for their faith than in the first nineteen hundred years of the history of the church, and if Jesus does not come soon, in this present century the numbers of martyrs for their Christian faith will quickly surpass the number of martyrs in the last century.

       The church in America has been spared from such persecution, but sadly, American Christians have taken on the attitude that somehow they are exempt, immune from their faith being tested in the fires of tribulation, persecution, and testing. Because of inexperience and certain pet teachings, they have incorrectly labeled God’s judgment as wrath and times of testing as punishment.

       This brings me to the subject of the church in America. The Lord is coming back for a chaste Church and not one that has been defiled by the world. We have to honestly ask ourselves how much is the church in America responsible for the spiritual environment that now exists in this nation. How much of the world has come in to corrupt the church’s attitude, and how much occult, New Age heresy now exists in the church that has perverted the truth. How much has the different watered down, heretical versions of the Bible taken the discerning edge from many Christians as they embrace a feel-good gospel that tickles their ears. Has the church adopted a type of political tolerance, by downplaying the seriousness of sin and alleviating any preaching about hell? Is the church failing because it is more interested in securing an earthly inheritance, than possessing its spiritual inheritance? Is the church properly preparing Christians to stand in these dark times or has it lulled them to sleep by promising them a false security? For example, are Christians expecting and watching to escape certain end-day events instead of being faithful to watch for Jesus’ blessed return? Is it selling some type of “insurance” that allows Christians to trust in a false immunity so they can keep their present life, or are they being challenged to let go of this present world, and prepare to look up for their redemption is drawing near? The final questions we must ask is why do some of the persecuted churches in other parts of the world fear for the church in America and are praying that persecution will come soon to our shores? Is it because the living church needs to be separated unto Jesus and come back to center of what is true, submit to its excellent calling, be obedient to its real commission (preaching the true Gospel and discipleship), and serve as the reflection of God in this dark age?

       God’s Word is clear. His people will not be subject to His wrath, but this does not mean we will not taste the bitterness of man’s and Satan’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10). We need to keep in mind that Noah was not delivered from God’s wrath; rather, he was delivered through it. Instead of sparing the city of Sodom from His wrath to preserve the righteous, God delivered the righteous Lot and his family out of it before raining fire upon it. Both Daniel and Ezekiel were taken in captivity and spared of the judgment that fell on Jerusalem. God knows how to preserve those who are His, but as believers, that does not mean we will escape persecution, grave trials or even death because of our faith (2 Peter 2:5-9). The sun shines on both the evil and good and the rain falls on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). It is for this reason that as believers we do what is right, not as a means to be spared of challenging times, but because we do believe and love God for He is worthy of the best we have to offer.

       Finally, this present world is not the believer’s home. As Christians, we are citizens of an unseen kingdom; therefore, we are strangers and sojourners simply passing through the darkness of this age. We are ever walking towards our real home, while holding lightly to the things of this world, and preparing ourselves to enter the door into God’s glory. We need to let go of that which represents a false hope and begin to put our real confidence in the only One who can save this world, our nation and our souls, Jesus Christ, the future reigning king and judge.