The Old Testament of the Bible contains many narratives that give instruction to the modern Christian. One such example is the story of the prophet Elijah and the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
In 1 Kings 21 we find the account of the King and Queen of Israel plotting to dispossess a man of his property. Deceit, lying, and libel were all employed expertly by Jezebel to cause the murder of the man Naboth. His crime? His desire to retain his land and vineyard and not sell them to the King. Naboth rightly stated that he was forbidden to sell his land to anyone because God had given it as an inheritance (21:3). Thus in seeking to obey and honor God Naboth became an enemy of the King and Queen.
Of particular interest in this story is the decree of God through the prophet Elijah to Ahab and Jezebel concerning their guilt and the judgment awaiting them as a result. Note verses 19-24 for the specific content of the judgment. Verse 22 is instructive for our purposes as it declares:
“and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin” (italics added).
How did Ahab and Jezebel provoke God to anger? By sponsoring the worship of the demon known as Baal (1 Kings 16:30-33). Clearly the sin of idolatry was state sponsored. Elsewhere God held the people responsible for their idolatry but here in this passage He lays the blame squarely at the feet of Ahab and Jezebel.
What application can be made from this event for modern Christians? Several principals are suggested. First, the state should never support religious practices that dishonor God. Indeed the biblical prescription for government is that it concern itself almost solely with keeping the peace, providing safety to its citizens, rewarding good, and punishing evil. This last qualification of a government that God has established is very important. More on that later.
Second, the state cannot know the difference between good and evil apart from an understanding of God as expressed in the Christian theistic tradition. Contrary to the current postmodern mindset there is right and there is wrong and the standard for determining which is which resides outside of the individual.
Third, when the state rejects God it has nowhere else to turn but to idolatry and the establishment of laws and practices that lead its people to sin against God. State sponsorship of religious practices that are antithetical to Christian theism consequentially creates enemies of the state. Fourth, God will not hold that state blameless which lead His people to sin. Finally but not least important, much can be accomplished if the righteous will stand against the wicked.
So why write this column? What inspired this idea of a connection between the spirit of Antichrist and the rampant Christian bent of self-flagellation and wrongfully attributing blame instead of rising up to oppose the present evil in our land? Quite simply friends, the number of people speaking condemnation upon the church and articles being written by Christians that place the blame squarely upon the church for the present evil that threatens to overtake America; that is what has given rise to this article.
Now let me state unequivocally that I understand that the American church has much to repent of, not the least of which is the quest for power in conjunction with the state and the perverse attention given to a social gospel which is as the Apostle Paul stated another gospel. Our in-fighting over trivial matters is legendary. But the attitude of many in these dark days is that the mess we find ourselves in is solely on the church for failing somehow to be the church. I find this charge absurd and a great demonstration of just how blind people have become to the spirit of the age.
The increasing criticism that I hear from many different sources is that the church is at fault when it comes to the social and cultural evils America is experiencing. Some Christians seem to be saying that this crisis could have been avoided if the church would have been the church. I’m not completely clear on what that catch phrase actually means – “if the church would have been the church” – but I believe these critics are attempting to say one of two things. Either that the church has not done enough to stem the tide of evil and that if the church would have done more in the past America would not be where it is today, or they could be saying that the church really hasn’t loved like Jesus loved and that is why there is so much evil. If this is what is meant then what we have is on one hand the church has not demonstrated enough activism and on the other the church has not shown enough compassion.
There is a Greek word that describes this misguided thinking – baloney! Are there examples of the church failing to live out its beliefs? Many examples exist that critics point to in order to sustain the arguments above. But history shows that the church has always concerned itself with social issues, has always responded with compassion to the needs of the helpless and the hopeless, and has been engaged culturally when no one else has. To suggest otherwise is to be willfully ignorant of the truth. Can we improve? There is much room for improvement to be sure but to throw out the entire history of the church in America in one fell swoop is unconscionable.
But there is a greater point that must be discussed and one that is an impetus for this article. The Bible teaches that in the days before Christ’s return the world which includes the church will be a mess. For example:
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
There is a common thread that runs through these passages. Note that the 1 Timothy 4 passage speaks of some within the church losing faith because of the influence of spirits and demons and having rejected the Christian faith replace it with the hypocritical lies of spirits and demons. Please note here friends that you must not assume these people have left the church. Verse 3 indicates they are still very much involved in the church, so much so that they insist on celibacy among the brethren and strict dietary rules.
The 2 Timothy 4 passage shows what happens when false converts and apostates are allowed to remain in the body of Christ – they infect the entire body by rejecting the truth of God. Teachers and Preachers are charged by Paul to focus on preaching the Word of God in its entirety and to use the Word of God to reprove, rebuke, and exhort listeners. This passage clearly points out many will not listen and will seek out people who will tell them what they want to hear.
The 2 Timothy 3 passage also makes it clear that the church will be challenged by worldly attitudes within. Godliness is a formality with no power. I believe this is a clear statement that many in the church will be unregenerate, i.e. without the Holy Spirit (power).
So the challenge that the church faces is not to be more like the culture (seeker sensitive). We are not to change our beliefs so that we can reach more people (emergent). We are not to adopt some kind of faux-compassion in order to be liked or accepted by the world (missional). These strategies are all the result of demonic invasion into the thinking of Christians and churches. But friends, if this thinking has invaded the church then it is doing so from a position of strength, having already captured the culture in which we live.
The truth is that the spirit of Antichrist is palatable today. Our present government manifests the clearest danger that the church in America has ever faced. This is demonstrably true. At no time in our nation’s history has any President or collection of so-called public servants demonstrated such a bitter hatred for the ideals, values, and teachings of Christianity.
America’s laws were established on the basis of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Our cultural mores and values all trace back to Christianity. The perversion and rejection of these beliefs has resulted in a broken legal system and cultural mayhem. Cherry-picking values and inserting personal opinions into legal proceedings have aided the evil we see today. The belief that pluralism is the antidote to what ails America is nonsense. But that is exactly the path both secularists and some misguided Christians are taking. Being open to COEXIST theology flies in the face of CONTRADICT truth (Some bumper sticker humor there).
I have to tell you friends that the numbers of believers who once held strong convictions and were not afraid to stand and speak truth are dwindling. I see articles from people I once respected that articulate the idea that the church is the reason America is in dire straits. The cultural evil we are seeing in America is now somehow the fault of those of us who are speaking out about the political evil and march toward globalism that is running roughshod over individual liberty and freedom. This is some strong Orwellian gobbledygook going on here. Really it is some weird type of self-flagellation. Perhaps these folks think that if they guilt themselves or others enough the culture will take notice and like us or tell us that we are relevant once more. Acquiescing to the god-haters is a wrong-headed strategy and cannot be supported scripturally.
How is it the fault of the church that the spirit of Antichrist has risen in the land? Does not the Bible say that this will happen in the time before the return of Christ? If it does, then why are so many Christians pointing their fingers at the church? Isn’t this a huge distraction and an unnecessary waste of time? Should the remnant take Paul’s advice to Timothy and “avoid such men as these”?
Let me summarize a few points in conclusion.
(1) We must understand that this present government is not of God. Do not hide behind the veneer of this lame statement: “Well God establishes governments so I must obey this government.” Please read my previous posts on the topic of governments that God establishes here and here. The spirit of Antichrist is on display. When Christians act as apologists for our President and his minions they divert attention from this evil in America and are doing a huge disservice to the Kingdom of God.
(2) Christians who think they can win the lost to Christ by being their friend are following a failed strategy. Where in the Bible are we called to befriend people in order to win them to Christ? I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with the lost but the idea that evangelism incorporates that as a biblical norm is in error. Programs are not needed. The Gospel is needed.
(3) If Christians really want to impact the culture around us then we will quit supporting multi-million dollar ministries who fervently crow about the need for private jets, multi-million dollar mansions, and extravagant lifestyles all for Jesus’ glory. If you really want to show the love of Christ then sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow Jesus.
(4) Judgment has come upon America. Let’s face the facts friends. God has allowed this phony of a man to ascend to the highest office in America. It was once the highest office in the world. Thanks to Mr. Obama’s continued ineptitude and resolve not to do the right things on the world stage, the office of President has become irrelevant.
(5) The remnant of Christians today must band together. Our brethren are being murdered all over the world. The American government is financing this genocide. If you think for a second that the same atrocities you see elsewhere will not touch America you are blind, naive, and might I say stupid. It is a special kind of ignorance that thinks Christians in America will not be touched by this evil.
Friends please take the message of this post seriously. Time is growing short and there is still a lot of work to be done. If you’ve left the church and meet in your home now then I encourage you to start inviting your neighbors to hear you teach the Bible. If you are in a church that does not teach the Bible then why are you still there? Friends, family, comfort? Get out of that place and find a church that teaches the Bible. Here’s a piece of information for you when you begin to hunt for a new church – it won’t be like what you left. If you find a church that is faithful to the Scriptures cling to it like glue because they are few. Finally, evaluate your life. Where you’ve been, where you want to go in life, and why. Does your plan line up with Kingdom principles for the day we live in? Are you still pursuing the great American dream of bigger, better, and more? Why? Being a servant of the King means doing things His way. Make sure you are.
Blessings my friends.