At the mid-week brother’s meeting, I shared a few verses that have helped me interact with the tumultuous times in which we are living. With societal unrest at a fever pitch, I wanted to remain at rest in the Lord. And thankfully God’s Word is a treasury of wisdom that the Holy Spirit will unveil in our time of need!
A couple of folks mentioned the verses being a help and so I thought to share them here as well.
What must be my primary concern in such tumultuous days?
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”
2 Corinthians 11:2-4 NASB
The great danger of such tumultuous times is of my being drawn away from pure devotion to Jesus Christ. It’s amazing to see where the Holy Spirit says that pull will come from: not from evil, but from the preaching of another Jesus, the proclamation of a different gospel. The preaching of a Jesus-like message and a gospel-caliber cause is what most threatens my devotion to Jesus Christ. So anytime the name of Jesus is invoked, I ought to be particularly on guard: my devotion is under attack.
I heard that the Marxists used to say that Jesus was the first Marxist. I’m sure the same is true for the communists and socialists and many other human schemes to promote human welfare - but it’s all variations on “preaching another Jesus.” The danger of being taken up with any scheme — no matter how seemingly good its purpose — is that I’m no longer taken up with Jesus Christ, Himself.
How do I interact with the charged framing of the times: good v evil, love v hate, etc?
“The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.””
Genesis 2:16-17 NASB
The opposite of devotion to Christ (which is pictured in 2 Corinthians 11 as the tree of life, from which Satan lured Eve) is not denying Him, but rather, living according to my own human understanding of right and wrong.
“for we walk by faith, not by sight”
2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
I have to remember that the opposite of “the tree of life” is not “the tree of death,” but “the tree of knowing for myself what’s right and wrong.” Any knowledge of right and wrong that does not proceed directly from the mouth of God proceeds from hell. The tragic irony of the dominant framing of these tumultuous times as “good versus evil” is that that argument is primary made by people who do not believe in good, or in evil, for that matter! So I must reject whatever the world defines as right and wrong — even and especially when it accords with my own natural human sentiments — and seek to live by the word which proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:5-9 NASB
All appeals to human love must fall deaf upon my ears of faith. As Santosh put it so perfectly last week at RLCF, “God is the Enemy of human love every bit as much as He is the Enemy of hate. Love which does not proceed from Christ is not the love of God.”
So when the world says, for example, “Love is love,” absolutely, categorically, it is not. “Love” may be rebellion. “Love” may be defiance. “Love” may be hostility. Only love which flows from the heart of God is love, in truth.
What did Jesus say about social agendas?
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fightingso that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.””
John 18:36 NASB
“Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.”
John 6:14-15 NASB
I was struck to remember that one of the main reasons the Jews ended up rejecting Jesus is because they were expecting their messiah to bring about a political revolution and deliverance from evil government oppression. But He did not come to deliver us from the oppression of this world; He came to deliver us from the rule of sin in our hearts (Matthew 1:21, Romans 6:14), and to deliver us into His kingdom, where He is sovereign and blessed Ruler (“Lord”) of our lives.
Those who are governed by the kingdom of God no longer seek a country for themselves here on earth. And it is for this reason that “God is not ashamed to be called their God,” because they walk the same way as their Master, Who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 11:13-16 NASB
What should be my response to the hate around me, and the hate directed towards me?
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men... Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12:14, 17, 19-21 NASB
The natural response to evil is to respond in like manner - in a word, to hate those who hate us. But Jesus taught us to love our enemies. It may sound good to "only hate hate," but that is a thoroughly worldly way of thinking. Jesus told us to overcome evil with good - not with evil, and not with hate.
Jesus is our example in this:
“But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!””
Luke 23:34-37 NASB
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
1 Peter 2:21-23 NASB
What about seemingly wicked rulers?
Here’s what the apostles wrote to Christians living under the reign of Nero, who instituted the sweeping persecution of the first century church.
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.”
1 Peter 2:13-19 NASB
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”
Romans 13:1-2 NASB
Whose side should I take?
“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho... a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.””
Joshua 5:13-14a NASB
A heavenly-minded person takes God’s side in all conflicts.
What should my support of the oppressed look like?
““So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6:2-4 NASB
How should I think about being associated with various movements?
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?”
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NASB
I should be concerned if any position I take, when I look to my right and left, has me arm-in-arm with the world. If my “comrades in arms” in any battle are God-hating individuals, I have been deceived. I cannot stand with anyone who seeks to overcome evil with evil, or overcome hate with hate, even if they call it "good," or even though the world calls that love.
I’ve noticed the two sources of pressure I have personally experienced to rally to support a movement, have come from 1) progressive liberals and 2) progressive evangelicals. I can understand being at odds with the liberal agenda.
What should I do about religious folks who express disappointment in my position?
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
Hebrews 13:12-14 NASB
Remember that religious zealots killed Jesus - and I should not be surprised if zealots are dissatisfied. I am commanded to bear Christ’s reproach outside the religious camp.
What should I do if folks get vocal about their disapproval?
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:11-12 NASB