July 9, 2015
What a world we live in. It’s been turned upside down and what God declares as sin is now the law of the land. Many Christians are in a quandary about what to do, but there should be no question. As Christians we follow God, not man. Christ didn’t promise us that there wouldn’t be hard choices to make in order to follow Him. On the contrary, He promised division. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division” Luke 12:51. Christians follow Christ, but the world follows Satan. There has always been a division between Christians and the secular world and the world is hostile to Christianity. Oddly enough, as the secular world becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity they ignore Muslim atrocities, such as beheading people. Satan blinds people to truth.
Sometimes we have to choose between following Christ and losing family and friends. Jesus told us that would happen. “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Luke 12:52-53. Unless you come from a Christian home you may be rejected by your family members when you choose to follow Christ. The world doesn’t understand that Christianity is a way of life and cannot be compromised or legislated. The division between Christians and those who follow the god of this world is the cause of all out persecution against Christians. It is the Christian who will be expected to accept the ways of Satan in order to keep things peaceful. Go back to Luke 12:51, Christ didn’t come to bring peace on earth. Persecution is happening today as in times past when the early Christians were thrown to the lions and worse. Today we see Christians being beheaded and tortured. We need to learn from those early Christians who would not deny Christ, even in the face of prison or death.
Persecution of Christians began early. The Jewish leaders would not accept Christ as the Messiah and they criminalized Christianity. A man who had been lame from birth was at the gate of the Temple asking for alms. When Peter and John walked by he asked for money, “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6. The man was healed and overjoyed. He praised God. The man had been healed by the power of God, not government enforced regulations. The bystanders were amazed and Peter preached to them proclaiming Jesus Christ. Of course this made the Jewish officials angry. Following Christ brought division and Peter and John were imprisoned. Even then the people were expected to rely on the governing body and deny Christ. Peter and John were forbidden to speak to anyone about Jesus. This is very much like what is happening today…Christianity is being criminalized. Christians need to follow Peter’s example. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20. When Peter and John told the other believers what had happened, they prayed, praising God and asking for boldness as they spread the Gospel. Many Christians today deny the power of the Holy Spirit, but when those early Christians prayed they felt the ground shake and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, then went out and boldly spoke the word of God. We need to study the way those early Christians depended upon God. The division that Christ brought was not among the Christians, but between the Christians and the world. Peter and the others continued to openly preach Christ and once again were arrested. This time an angel came and freed them from prison and they went right back to preaching. When the surprised Jewish leadership didn’t find them in the jail cell, but rather preaching in the Temple, Peter and the others were brought before them. When asked why they disobeyed the order that they would not speak of Jesus the answer was simple. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. Well said, Peter. Peter was the one who ran and hid on the night Christ was arrested, but by the time of this incident Peter truly understood who Christ was and that God is to be obeyed over man.
The division between the Jewish leaders and Christians was great. Persecution became strong against those first Christians who were in Jerusalem so many left. Saul was a very zealous persecutor of those whom he deemed were blaspheming God. When on his way to Damascus to arrest the Christians who had fled there, something miraculous happened. A light from heaven shone around him and the voice of Jesus spoke. “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Acts 9:4. Did you catch that? Saul, better known today as Paul, thought that he was acting against people who believed in Christ, but in fact it was Christ he was persecuting. That’s true today. It isn’t individual Christians that are being persecuted, but the One we serve. The lost people of this world cannot accept Jesus and hold onto their sinful ways so they persecute our Lord. Christ causes division. The only way they think they can make their sin acceptable is to criminalize Christianity and legalize sin. They can persecute us and make Christianity illegal, but they can never take away the penalty of their sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. The same man who persecuted Christ because he hated Christians became a changed man after his encounter on the road to Damascus. He gave his life to Christ and is the same man who penned the words in Romans 6:23. God can dramatically change a person and Christians are His instruments. Plant seeds by standing firm on God’s word. Show God’s love and mercy to those who are in need of salvation through Christ.
God’s word never changes. God never changes. Human beings have a sin nature but when we accept Christ we are forgiven of our sin. That doesn’t mean we have God’s approval to continue in sin. The world may pass laws that condone the murder of babies in the womb or homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean God approves. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12.Secular people who reject Jesus do not care about God’s ways. Christians must study God’s word and understand that His Scripture is superior to man’s ungodly laws. Division comes because Satan needs to make sin seem “…right unto a man“. As followers of Christ we cannot compromise our Christian walk, but you need to study God’s word to be sure you understand what He says and then obey. Christ told us there would be division, but He didn’t say to compromise.
Brethren, we are facing perilous times. As Daniel’s 70th week draws near, evil becomes more open and many people are not ashamed of their sin, but flaunt it. We have to make a choice. Should we compromise our faith in order to fit in with the world? No. Jesus said faith in Him would create division. Pastors will soon need to decide who they will perform wedding ceremonies for, but I would suggest that like Peter they ought to obey God rather than men. This might mean that the tax exempt status is taken away, but if money is more important than following God there is more trouble in that congregation than whose marriage a pastor will officiate over. Jesus said “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24. Americans never had to choose between God and country, but today a choice is being forced upon us and division is here.
We need to understand that those who pass laws condoning sin, as well as those who embrace and revel in that sin, condemned themselves. Now, let me back up a bit. If someone has truly accepted Christ their past, present, and future sin is forgiven. The outward evidence of accepting Christ is moving away from worldly sin and conforming your life to Christ. If you can condone any sin that God abhors, then you need to examine yourself to determine if you truly have accepted Christ. If you haven’t truly accepted Him then you have condemned yourself to eternity in the Lake of Fire. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18. You may be able to convince yourself that you can embrace sin and follow Christ, but you will never convince God.
As Christians take an uncompromising stance on God’s word, remember one other point which cannot be compromised. God is love. Not only does He love us, but He IS love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7. Even though our faith may cause division it is of the utmost importance that we show God’s love to everyone. After all, we are also sinners but have been forgiven. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Our commission is to go into the world and share the Gospel. We cannot win souls by watering down the Gospel, nor will any be won through anger.
A Pharisee asked Jesus which is the great commandment in the law. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Christians, let’s remember to love God first, then love our neighbor. If division happens, it is only because the unsaved of this world have hardened their hearts to the love of Jesus.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.