For many years, it was frowned upon to try teach or influence people by fear. It was no longer acceptable, much less fashionable, to preach “hellfire and damnation” from the pulpit. The schoolteachers were not supposed to scold children by predicting the dire consequences of daring or unruly conduct. The evils of alcohol used to be denounced by the staunch prohibitionists, who passed the legislation for the benefit of wives and children, to halt the ruination of homes, jobs, bodies and lives. Prohibition, though declared to be a failure, was in fact a success for the law-abiding segment of the population. It was the rebels, criminals and mobsters who defied the law and reaped their ill-gotten gains thereby. Temperance unions were no longer popular nor permitted. The foul language and atrocious manners of some young persons, or even ancient reprobates, now called “dirty old men”, (and latterday advice from at least two “dirty old women” sex shows), were not to be pointed out to embarrass and/or shame them. Whatever happened to modesty, not only of apparel, and behavior, but of “body language”? Doesn’t anyone teach our young people the wonderful benefits of chastity? And so it appears that we became the easy-going, tolerant, permissive society which is now “reaping the whirlwind”!
Recent instances of nauseating hazing practices, and unnecessary brutality in the Canadian Army show a complete lack of recognition of the need for Christian ideals and discipline which formerly guided most of our military forces. The USA MILITARY also have scandals of rape and harassment which could easily have been expected when putting women into combat situations with men who are trained to be “macho” in their profession. They are all separated from the civilizing and responsible circumstances of homes and families… was that immoral result not predictable? Awesome consequences which could easily have been foreseen, as we are now suffering societal ills and scandals of momentous proportions!
Is it Biblical to be so acquiescent that we become accepting, approving, even endorsing the formerly forbidden behaviors which are now permeating our society? Paul describes these perilous times in his letters to Timothy, and Peter warns that Satan is busily “prowling to see whom he may devour”! Fearsome indeed to be devoured by that “roaring lion”!
There is obviously more than one way of “throwing the Christians to the lions”! In spite of those many warnings and prophecies of disaster and doom in scripture, do people think that God has rescinded His Word? Even the passage, “Cast not your pearls before swine, nor dogs lest they turn and rend you” carries very unpleasant connotations. The unpalatable truth must be varnished, decorated and disguised to be inoffensive to mankind’s “itching ears”. The current well-worn phrase is “politically correct”, isn’t it? Peter, dear, bumbling Peter, clearly sets forth the alternatives in his letter 1 Peter 4:5-7, “who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit”…v10 ff: “As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, consider it as the oracles of God, if any man minister, as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ… let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, nor as a busybody in other men’s matters… yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God, and if it first begin with us, what shall the end of them be that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous be scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator”. In Jude’s epistle we read, “…and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
Peter describes the fearsome prospect of judgment and loss of eternal life for the wicked compared to the righteous who are “scarcely saved”. He reminds us that we are to endure suffering according to the will of God, reproach and even fiery trials, counting it all joy for the glory of God inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. This is our reward for standing fast in the Word of God, not succumbing to the blandishments of sophistication and “running with the crowd”. What a great temptation it is to “belong to the IN crowd”, but what a penalty it carries when judgment is meted out!
Peter speaks of hospitality and charity as worthy traits. “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble”, he advises, “Be sober, be vigilant”, resisting the devil that he may flee from you. In spite of these warnings, we are NOT to be fearful, for if our faith is firm we do not need to fear, but only trust in our Heavenly Father. Indeed, fear is a sign of lacking faith and trust. It betrays our falling away, our backsliding, for it is trust that helps us to follow Biblical principles in our daily lives, keeping us safe from those snares and pitfalls so cunningly placed in our path by Satan and his minions. How then can we be fearless? Faith, hope and charity used to be a common formula for Christian living, and we can with thoughtful prayer and care in our daily lives, be assured of God’s loving grace and mercy. I remember hearing it said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”, usually upon hearing about or seeing a fellow human in dire straits or a fallen condition, even of his own making. Constant consciousness of God’s tender, watchful care gives us peace of mind and contented gratitude. “He watching over Israel slumbers not, nor sleeps” Psalm 121:3,4.
Let us examine the blatant defiance of God’s laws which have wrought havoc for millions.
- We have allowed unbelievers and outright sinners to occupy and maintain positions of leadership and stewardship in our churches.
- We have abolished God’s law of death penalty, restitution and retribution.
- We have allowed, approved, and even endorsed the shedding of innocent blood by abortion and recidivistic murders.
- We have allowed women to take positions of combat in battle.
- We have made marriage so easy for the unprepared and irresponsible that divorce is almost inevitable. If there were no “other woman”, there would be many fewer divorces!
- We have elected officials who are in party politics for what they can GET, not what they can GIVE, some are weaned away from honest intentions.
- We have violated God’s rules for robust health, sanity and good government.
- We have idolized sports, television, lust and pornography.
- We have tolerated and excused the sins for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha.
We have profaned the Sabbath and allowed alien religions to downgrade our wonderful Christian heritage.
Even if we are not severely punished by God as we deserve, we must nonetheless suffer the consequences of these violations of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Those things which He has promised, and prophesied, and sworn by His own Name, He cannot break nor rescind. He cannot lie! Therefore, if we are not suitably awed by His awesome Deity, we should indeed be fearful of His wrath and of His fearsome POWER!
Let us give thanks unceasingly for His grace and mercy, and the promise of His coming Kingdom, when peace and joy will reign supreme, Amen.