Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

If you have been watching the news lately, you are probably a bit concerned and maybe depressed. What may follow some of your emotional distress could be a bit of indigestion as you try to swallow the insanity of it all. It is at such times that you might even wonder if we as a nation and as individuals are going to survive this tidal wave of wickedness and conflict that is overtaking the world. It appears that the insanity is going to win as various factions are heading on the same track towards each other at high speed. The casualties could prove to be great, but it seems like those who are considered as the powers to be have no real moral concern for the nameless and faceless. In their minds the masses are pawns that can be offered up on any altar for what is regarded as the common good for all, especially for their wicked, self-serving agenda.

As we watch different kingdoms collide, it is easy to see how the “isms” of the world are vying for that supreme position of ruling the whole world under their flag or banner. Whether it be that of Progressivism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Islamism, and countless other religious “isms”, each of these ideologies see their particular take on the world as being the only correct one. Therefore, they have no problem oppressing or destroying those who stand in the way of their conviction.

If you are like me, you simply want the space and freedom to live according to the dictates of your convictions and moral conscience. I have no intention of forcing my worldview on others because I know that a person persuaded against his or her will about a matter is of the same opinion still. On the other hand, no one will be able to cause me to change my mind about Jesus. It does not matter if someone holds a gun to my head or threatens my well-being with the tormenting cruelty of hell itself, I will continue to maintain my same opinion. Granted, people may comply outwardly to oppressive methods, but inwardly they will seethe with the resentment and hatred of a person who has been counted as insignificant and robbed of his or her dignity by those who are blinded by power, insanity, and rebellion.

As we consider how many of the “isms” would settle for a mere outward compliance on the part of those who do not agree, we must question the obvious. What have such individuals gained by arm-wrestling someone into submission with fear and intimidation? Clearly, they may have added another name to their various rolls, but they have failed to gain a true convert to their way of thinking. Where is the victory? Such victory is neither bitter nor sweet, but foolish and deceptive.

Since I am part of the faceless masses in this world, I wonder why these ideological tyrants cannot let things be and simply live in peace. I also consider the suffering brought on by the pursuits of these various despots of the world, and wonder why a few individuals can bring on such devastating results among the masses.

The truth is that these powers perceive that if everybody lined up to their take on the world, that all would be at peace. In essence, it is a matter of every person reconciling with them by taking on their reality. In such an environment, despots never have to confront the truth about their own foolishness and destruction. It is for this reason that these deluded individuals think that if they get rid of those who do not think their way, then they would gain a utopia where everyone will be happy.

Yet, as Christians we know that such individuals will never live in peace and happiness. After all, how can people who have been trained to war against anything that does not fit into their comfortable boxes of philosophies, ideologies, or even doctrine ever expect to live in peace? How can those with fragile egos graciously accept anything that would challenge their high opinion of themselves? How can those who have been radically indoctrinated to see the world through a perverted lens, ever be content to let those who do not agree with them to simply maintain such disagreement without conflict? How can those who are angry about the world around them because it seems stupid and foolish show any tolerance or compassion for them who do not measure up to their personal standards? The truth is that such individuals cannot live in peace by letting matters simply be. Since they rage inside, they will naturally rage with those who come into their midst.

As I watch prophetical events unfold before my eyes, I am aware of the dangerous times we live in. The harsh reality is that truth has become a luxury that few possess. It has been replaced with wicked philosophies, insane ideologies, and heretical doctrines of men. Minds have been taken captive by these demonically inspired beliefs. Clearly, many have been or are being blindsided by the deception of the age we live in. As a person’s mind becomes clouded by the seduction, hatred, and prejudices of a few, the affections of his or her heart will become shrouded in a curtain of confusion, uncertainty, and frustration. It is with this understanding in mind that, as Christians, we must remember that the mind must be transformed by the Spirit. This entails bringing down vain imaginations by bringing all thoughts into captivity to Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

As I watch the insanity of the world taking center stage, I have occasionally found myself questioning my own sanity. I ask myself, What if all those individuals who advocate an insane reality prove to be in the category of “sane”, while in the end it will be my world that will prove to be insane?

The only measuring rod I have as to the integrity of my sanity is the Word of God. I must always go back to the truth of God. I must be honest as I look into the pure mirror of its instructions to bring whatever reproof wherever I have strayed from the ways of righteousness. I must cling to who Christ is and avoid settling for any conclusion that is not in line with His Word. I must always come to rest with the knowledge that God is in control. As a just God, He is allowing for the season of winter where wickedness may reign and His righteousness may appear dormant, but the season that follows will be the spring where that which may be oppressed or hidden will be brought forth in new life.

Meanwhile, from all appearances, the winter is upon us and the night is fast approaching when no man will be able to work. In this darkness and through its deception, I must remain alert, realistic, sane, and maintain a truthful premise and a hopeful expectancy.  The reason I must keep my spiritual edge and wits about me is because I learned long ago that it is easy to be deceived. I have been deceived in the past by one of the many “isms” in the world, and I have also tasted the subtly of seduction of that which appears acceptable. Through it all I have learned that it takes brutal transparency before God about my present status. I must be willing to be laid spiritual bare before the penetrating light of the Spirit to properly discern my own relationship with the Lord. As King David so eloquently put it in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

The truth is deception will blindside those who fail to see their vulnerable state. It will come alongside vulnerable individuals and wait patiently to trip them up. It will cleverly remain outside of their peripheral vision, while giving them the impression that it is all clear to “change lanes” when it comes to the matters of God. The question is, what creates the blindside in each of our spiritual lives?

There are a couple of avenues in which the deceiver can be effective in deceiving others. The two main avenues of attraction that are used to deceive people are: fleshly, worldly knowledge and pride. There is nothing as powerful as stroking the intellect with so-called, “knowledge that can only be known by the elite.”  If a person feels he or she has the inside scoop on mysteries of the unseen world, it will cause him or her to feel superior. When such a person encounters those who do not have such insight, they will think them out of touch and stupid.

It is for this reason that the Bible warns that knowledge that is not disciplined by the godly virtues of character and temperance will become puffed up in its understanding, and cause undisciplined zeal that will set up any novice to fall into the conceited trap of arrogance (1 Corinthians 8:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:6; 2 Peter 1:5). In addition, as prophetically outlined, knowledge will increase in these days, but such knowledge will not lead to Christ (Daniel 12:4). Paul described the affect such knowledge will have on the end days, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:7).

To avoid falling into the temptation of the present knowledge of this world, we must be seeking to know Jesus, not to obtain great knowledge about Him. People are looking to various avenues to understand Him, but they are not seeking Him out with a pure heart to know Him. It is for this reason that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn stated, “The thin line between good and evil does not run though states or ideologies, but through the heart of every man and woman. Christianity is not based on head knowledge of Jesus Christ, but on a heart revelation of who He is and what He did on the cross for each of us. The desire to know Jesus points to the intent of having a personal, intimate relationship with Him.”

Pride is the second avenue that will blindside us. It is the board in the eye that focuses on the sliver of discrepancies others may have while being blinded by an overrated ego to their own personal ungodliness. Sadly, many people’s egos are fragile. It does not take much to insult or offend such an ego. If you do not stroke, placate, or bow down to the idolatrous games that such egos devise in order to be worshipped, such individuals will become angry, mean-spirited, and vindictive. Even though they may call themselves Christians, they do not reflect the attitude of Christianity.

Pride is a major idol and demands conformity from others to its ways. It will always find itself in competition with righteousness. It cannot afford to be wrong; therefore, it is fearful and  unteachable. It must come out on top; therefore, it is aggressive and refuses to humble itself. It maintains fleshly rights; therefore, it refuses to concede even to that which is honorable. It swings according to temperamental moods and proves to be unpredictable in the stands it takes. It becomes indifferent to those who will not serve its purpose, cruel to those who stand in the way, and unreasonable to the point that it will always sabotage itself in the end.

When you check out the Apostle Paul’s description of the end days in 1 Timothy 3:2-9, you will see the epitome of pride in operation. It is the pride of men that causes them to be in love with who they think they are. At the core of pride is jealousy and covetousness that rides on the shirttails of rights that will justify pursuing anything that the prideful flesh desires. Pride causes people to be boastful about foolishness, blasphemers of righteousness, lawless against all true authority, unthankful in attitude, unholy in practices, and void of natural affections. They do not keep their word, they falsely accuse those who bring any real contrast to their character, they are morally undisciplined, are fierce in insisting on their own way, despise what is good, are treacherous, heady in their sentiments, highminded towards the things of darkness, and prefer the pleasures of the world more than God. They often hide behind a robe of (self) righteousness, but the Holy Spirit is missing. They seduce others in order to feed their fleshly lusts as they seek after knowledge while resisting the truth because their minds are corrupt and their faith reprobate.  In the end, their folly will be manifested to all.

It is for this reason that Christians are told not to think highly of themselves, but to think soberly as dictated by their faith. Those who are close to falling into the trap of pride must resist it, knowing that if they think they stand that it is a prelude to their fall into utter ruin. They must not insist on being exalted to the front of the table because of their so-called “importance;” rather, they must humbly take a seat at the end of the table until they are rightfully exalted by others. In fact, such individuals must avoid thinking they are something when in fact their high opinion of themselves will not only deceive them, but render them useless to God, for He resists the proud (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 6:3; 1 Peter 5:5).

It is vital for each of us as believers to understand what the Christian life entails. Christianity is not defined by a popular philosophy; rather, it is defined by the person of Jesus Christ. We do not obtain or secure the ways of Christianity from the heights or pinnacles of personal piousness, but at the feet of Jesus. Obviously, Christianity is not simply a label or title we attach to ourselves because we are associated with a certain religion. It is not a concept that identifies us to some religious creed. It is not even a lifestyle that speaks of moral excellence. Rather, Christianity is a way of being by essentially becoming conformed to the life of Christ in every way. For example, in a lifestyle we adopt the attitude of the culture, while in Christianity we take on the attitude of Christ. Christianity is to become Christ-like in every aspect of our lives. When people see us, they are not to associate us to a particular denomination, religion, or creed, but as they did in the case Peter and John in Acts 4:13, they should be able to identify us to the Jesus of the Bible. It is His light we walk in and His salt of truth we use to season our life as well as others.

As I consider my Christian life in these insane days, I praise God that He never changes, His Word remains sure, and His truth immovable. I rejoice that my reality is not based on a temporary world that is under judgment and one day will cease to be altogether; rather, my reality is founded on what is eternal. Like Abraham, I rest in the marvelous truth that I am a stranger and a pilgrim in this world and that one day I will realize the fullness and beauty of a city made by the hands of God. Until then, I must walk according to His eternal life in me and in light of the future glory that awaits me. This is not only my challenge, but every believer’s test. May each of us accept the high calling to finish the present course in order to receive the crown of righteousness that awaits us.