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

The Challenge
by Rayola Kelley

As we embark on uncertain times, we must understand the real challenge before us. Each age carries its own challenges, tests, and trials. Although each period of time presents it own temptations and tribulations, the core of the problem remains the same.

The real core of the problem is sin. It does not matter how it is watered down, justified, or made right in the sight of those who hold to their particular conclusion about the issues of life, the attitude towards sin will always reveal the moral fiber of people. In order for sin to have its way, the right environment must be present (James 1:13-16). The environment will in turn determine the type of sin that reigns.

Today the reality is that many who have the limelight of importance in this world are calling good evil and evil good. Even though man has an inward conscience as to what is right and wrong, the environment that exists can greatly dull down or even sear his conscience. Due to such worldly, biased, and unrealistic philosophies such as “Political Correctness”, the prevailing environment that exists in our society is amoral. In other words, there are no absolutes as to what is morally right or wrong. In an amoral environment, morality is constantly being redefined, adjusted, and even declared obsolete by those who desire to live contrary to what is decent. As in the days of Judges when no real absolute moral rule was recognized, an amoral environment always ends with people doing whatever they think is right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).

Scripture is clear, man can do what seems right, but most of it will end in death and destruction. The problem with sin is that it is enfolded in such a deceptive cloud of darkness that it will invade and consume the minds of men. Under such a cloud, it is hard to discern the motives and intents of the unregenerate heart. An unregenerate heart will defile everything, while perverting people’s attitude towards moral matters (Proverbs 14:16; 16:25; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Hebrews 3:13).

To spiritually survive the days we now live in, we must possess the moral fiber to stand in the midst of that which rages against all that is decent and right. Without moral fiber, societies are doomed by their lack of substance to withstand. They will eventually implode, collapsing in a heap of ruin. In fact, one can find many ruins of former great empires that failed to realize the importance of possessing moral fiber. Without the absolutes as to truth and morality, there is no place of accountability. Without godly standards that call men to places of excellence, there will be no need to allow character to be forged into their innermost being. Without the boundaries of righteousness being exalted, a person will resort to his, or her, base ways and selfish foolishness that leaves him or her being nothing more than a despot, sinking down into the cesspool of his or her pigpen.

This brings us to the battle that is raging over the Constitution of the United States. There are those who say that it is obsolete, for it “supposedly” cannot address the problems of our advanced modern-day society. Others declare that it is living. In other words, the Constitution is not based on immovable principles and moral laws that will work in every arena if properly applied, but that it is open-ended to be changed according to the society we live in.

As you study the Founding Fathers’ view of the Constitution, they were clear that the document was based on immovable principles that could only be upheld by virtues. The Founding Fathers knew that as long as a people remained moral according to the Law of God, they could govern themselves, but as soon as they attempted to change the immovable principles that were to govern the moral conscience of men, chaos would ensue. Clare Booth Luce summarized it best. “The question is a crucial one for the future of our country. All history bears witness to the fact there can be no public virtue without private morality. There cannot be good government except in a good society. And there cannot be a good society unless the majority of individuals in it are at least trying to be good people. This is especially true in a democracy, where leaders and representatives are chosen from the people, by the people. The character of a democratic government will never be better than the character of the people it governs. A nation that is traveling the low road is a nation that is self-destructing. It is doomed, sooner or later, to collapse from within, or to be destroyed from without. And not all its wealth, science and technology will be able to save it.”

Clearly, the American people have lost their way, not because the Constitution is proving to be obsolete, but because the people have allowed themselves to be lowered by the base attitude of wickedness. It is not that the principles of the Constitution cannot address the times we live in, it is because we are failing to address the times we live in according to the honorable intents of the Constitution. It is because we have taken the low road in matters of righteousness that we now find ourselves at a dangerous crossroad in this nation.

The problem with taking the low road is that man will become lawless.  Man must rule his own appetites and govern his own actions. If he fails to be responsible for the creature he is and take responsibility for the creature he is becoming, then he will subject himself to the despotic rule of those who are more lawless than he. Benjamin Franklin made this observation, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

To me, the one who has failed the most as far as ensuring the moral fiber of this nation is the Church. There is no distinction between the morality of the Church and the world. Fornication is acceptable in the name of happiness, abortions are understandable, indifference towards sin is justifiable, and the adoption of the philosophies and methods of the world necessary for success. The truth is the visible Church has failed to bring a distinction between the holy and the profane. It seems that those who promote the present atmosphere that exists in the Church have allowed the darkness to cover the sins of its members, while encouraging a quasi religious atmosphere that is void of absolutes.

As Christians, we have the moral Law of God. We call them commandments. Commandments are absolutes and will never change regardless of whether man’s view of moral issues change according to the liberal attitudes of the present. These commandments call each of us, as believers, to walk according to the high road of excellent conduct. Since we live in an amoral environment, we must stir ourselves up to see if we have been dulled down to truth and seared in our conscience concerning the matters of morality. We cannot assume that all is well in our spiritual lives until we first examine our attitude towards the matters of holiness and sin. We cannot live in wishful thinking that association with religious institutions and activities makes us immune from falling prey to the dangerous worldly attitudes of our times.

For example, Hollywood is nothing more than a propaganda machine that promotes immoral acts. It opposes all that is decent and right as it rages against righteousness. How much does the bombardment of the presentation of fornication in the form of pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, and sodomy make you uncomfortable when you see Hollywood exalting such activities and presenting them as normal, acceptable practices on the screens of your TV and movie theaters? Are you repulsed enough to not support, partake of, and encourage it by separating yourself from it? I personally will not watch, support, or agree in any way with a person or a program that is involved in the destruction of people’s souls. The key is how much are we, as the living Church of Jesus, standing against evil tides by refusing to support such people, presentations, and practices? How much are we willing to let our pleasures go to the wayside as a way to separate from the profane to ensure the integrity of our perceptions and attitudes?

To be honest, there is less and less that could be counted as acceptable to watch on TV. And, what is left often introduces people to a surreal reality that often harbors the occult and the supernatural. Sadly, the darkness of sin is becoming “grayer” as people become indifferent or confused about what constitutes true morality. The light of deception either produces a flippant attitude towards morality, or immorality is presented in such a way that it comes across as logical to those who have failed to develop a love for the truth.

When you study the environment of the end days, you can begin to see how the darkness of deception will cover the minds of people. We must also note it is not what people are doing that alone creates a dangerous environment, but what they fail to do to ensure the correct environment.

The Apostle Paul describes the attitude that will be prevalent in the end days in 2 Timothy 3:1-7. The first thing he pointed out was that the people will be lovers of themselves. In other words, their base nature of selfishness will reign with a vengeance. People who give way to the selfish base nature of the unregenerate man will only be concerned about their small worlds. At the core of these small self-absorbed worlds of self-love is self-centeredness that covets, pride that boasts, arrogance that will blaspheme righteousness, and independence that will manifest itself in disobedience towards authority.

Since self sits on the throne, any selfish pursuit will be acceptable. After all, selfishness perverts; therefore, it has no means in which to develop natural affection. It is self-serving; therefore, it can only flatter or seduce, but it will rarely mean what it says. It will be touchy; therefore, quick to be offended, resulting in speculation and false accusation. Its fleshly appetites will rule, therefore, allowing the lust to reign. Such an environment will display a fierce attitude against that which will not serve its purpose, and will hate that which raises a mirror to expose its wicked ways.

Selfishness is treacherous, possesses a high opinion of itself, as it harbors a superior perception, loves that which feeds it, and will resent any form of competition or loyalty that will not bow to its insipid ways.  It may wear a cloak of righteousness, but it lacks the real life of the Spirit. It is fickle and will become a cork on the ocean that will be taken away by any waves of change that appeal to its prideful perception and fleshly appetites. Even though it forever seeks knowledge, it is for the purpose of finding that which will agree with its desires or personal take on matters. Although it may ever be learning, if will fail to possess truth.

When you consider this environment, you can see why America has been brought down to the low road. The condition that unabated selfishness produces creates an environment where people will not truly care about what is really happening around them. Evil can grow and it is no concern to them. Since they have their own moral code, other morality can go to the wayside because it will not have any real significance when it comes to their worlds. Deception can take center stage, for it does not matter because these individuals perceive that since they are holding to their truth, they will not fall victim to it. Since they hold to some moral code, they do not feel the need to distinguish or maintain what is truly acceptable and healthy when it comes to the prevailing moral climate around them. In other words, anything goes as long as it does not interfere with their personal take on matters.

Selfishness will see no need to sacrifice because it comes first. It will see no need to take a stand because it is comfortable to maintain the present status-quo in its small world. Since it must always be right, it will never be wrong. Since it is superior, it will never humble itself to become poor in spirit. Since it is an expert on matters, it will never have to become teachable or open to that which would challenge it.

What can we learn about the end day environment that the Apostle Paul described in 2 Timothy? It is simple. The present environment that will usher in the end to the world as we know it comes down to the darkness and deceptive ways of self reigning supreme. The whole psychology of the world has been established to bring about the present day environment. And, since the visible Church in America has not strived to serve as the moral conscience to its members and to stand distinct in this world, it appears as if its light has almost been put out by the darkness. However, there are those small pockets of individual lights that will not be covered by any form of wickedness. They will stand in spite of the encroaching insanity that is taking center stage.

As Christians, we must not allow ourselves to be consumed by the darkness. I cannot begin to count the many waves of deception that are presently bombarding the Christian world. These waves are part of the delusion that is sweeping through Christendom, testing the hearts of the people as to whether they love the truth or the ways of unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). These waves often appeal to the intellectual and religious pride of man. As a result, it is not unusual to see those who are not grounded in the true faith take their religious surf boards and zealously and fervently fling themselves in the path of these different destructive waves to be taken up by the mounting heights of their insanity into a world of heretical nonsense.

The seductive reality that many of these people are giving way to has a deadly mixture. There are some truths to the presentation, but they are laced with the seeds of death. These presentations may appear pure, but they are nothing more than an image that hides the darkness of deception. The problem is you can attempt to warn these people, but in the present quasi-religious environment, the Word of God is no longer considered the immutable and infallible truth in which to test all matters. Obviously, there is no standard in which you can make these people accountable for what they are buying. In other words, in these people’s minds the Bible is not enough, and ,that there are other facts that if one ever becomes privy to, he or she would see the light.

What most people who are being swept up by these deceptive waves fail to remember is that the true light is not a belief, doctrine, or spiritual insight, it is the person of Jesus. If the Jesus of the Bible is not found, exalted, and worshipped in a matter, then it is anti-Christ and heretical. If the presentation of something does not produce greater love for Jesus and others, it is devoid of the right Spirit and eternal life. If the reality of something produces pride instead of humility, arrogance instead of meekness, and a touchy, fragile ego rather than submission, it is a counterfeit. If something simply feeds the intellect but fails to affect the way one lives, it will amount to nothing more than foolish hogwash.

The truth of the matter is that most of these waves make people indifferent to the life they are living. If you check out these people’s attitudes, they lack love. If you check out their lives, they are often hiding moral deviation. If you check out their belief system, you will find there is no real stable foundation upon which they stand. If you discern their spirit, they are fearful, unteachable, and hard towards that which would challenge them. It is clear that their understanding of Christianity and Biblical truths are not founded on the Rock of ages.

Christianity is not about religious knowledge; rather, it is about the life of Christ being worked in us. It is not about adopting some doctrine; instead, it is about living according to the pure doctrine of heaven that always leads back to having a relationship with the Living God through Jesus Christ. It is not about developing some religious understanding; however, it is about possessing Christ.  Clearly, these restless individuals have complicated the simplicity found in the pure, but sweet truths surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, they have received another Jesus, believed a wrong Gospel, and become subject to a wrong spirit (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).

The reality is that there are no new truths to be found, there are only greater revelations of Jesus to be discovered.  There is no great mystery to be unveiled, there is only the mystery of godliness, that of God coming in the flesh, to be pondered (1 Timothy 3:16).  Therefore, the greatest challenge for believers is not to get their theology right, but to ensure the uprightness of their lives by making Jesus their all in all.

There is much against each of us as believers in this present age when it comes to maintaining the true faith that was first delivered to the saints. We must realize that such faith has to do with our understanding and attitudes about Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5).Without the correct perspective of Jesus, we will not survive the days we are living in. Everything will be shaken and only that which is founded on Jesus will stand. Everything will be brought low that has not first humbled itself before the Lord in repentance and submission. Everything that does not find its origins in the immutable Word of God will be smashed by His truth.

The question is, are you founded on the immovable Rock of heaven or are you trying to ride out one of the deceptive waves of the world? If you are trying to ride out one of the many religious waves, I exhort you to wake up and realize that you will not survive when the waves finally hit the rocks of judgment. Repent of your selfishness while there is time, cry out for mercy before you taste the bitterness of consequences, and ask the Lord to catch you by His grace before you know the harshness of His judgment.