Dealing with the Sins of the Nation
Proverbs 14:34 NKJV
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
When a nation enjoys freedom, citizens of that nation have options. The essence of personal or political freedom is choice. We can choose among the options presented by any pursuit that offers itself to us. We are free to vote in elections but retain the options of whether we will vote and for whom. Until we cast our ballot, these options still loom before us. This plethora of options can be confusing. Which options lead to benefit and which ones lead to loss? Which are wise and which are foolish? How can we find the upward path of blessing and avoid the downward spiral of sin that leads to destruction? Are we left to feel our way through life or is there a standard of righteousness that points us to the options that avoid shame and reproach?
Nations and Individuals
As Christ-followers, we are vitally concerned with the choices we make, the options we choose. We seek to be led by the Holy—the Holy Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God. One is inscribed in our hearts as we read, study, hear, and sing the Word of God. The other is that still small voice of God sounding deep in our spirits, guiding our thinking. A better lamp for our feet and light for our path has never been found. Choosing the right options day by day is a primary concern because we want to please the Lord every day. Each of us is looking forward to the day when we will stand before Jesus and give an account of our choices. We want to hear Him call our name and say, “Well done!”
Just as the Bible speaks of the judgement of individuals, it also speaks of the judgment of nations
Matthew 25:31-36 NKJV
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
The Sins of the Nation
We deal with our own sins by kneeling at the foot of the Cross of Christ. If we come to Him in sincere repentance and faith, He will in no wise cast us out. The Bible tells in vivid terms how Jesus deals with personal sins:
- He nailed the “writ of accusation against us” to His cross. (Col 2:14)
- He casts our sins into the “sea” never to be remembered against us again. (Micah 7:19)
We rejoice in such promises for they become realities to us because of God’s amazing grace.
How can we, as individuals, deal with the sins of our nation? First of all, we must identify those sins. Here are five, in no particular order, that seem readily apparent to me:
- The corruption of language,
- The rule of emotion,
- The profiting from human weaknesses,
- The devaluing of human life, and
- The worship of power.
While I am sure there are more than these five, we will start here.
The Corruption of Language
One night Johnny Carson complained in his monologue about words he could not say on TV. (There was a time when such restrictions existed!) His defense of obscenity was this: “These are just sounds!” Words are more than sounds; they are the vehicles of thought. Ideas, concepts, and details flow from one soul to another through words. Language is so important to God that His Son is called The Living Word. The Jesus Story itself is one of “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.”
For this reason, believers in Jesus must hold language in highest regard. No corrupt communication should flow from our lips. (Eph 4:29) We must hold out the word of life (Eph 2:16) and as we do we shine like stars in the black sky. We must not soak our minds in the constant corrupt use of language that fills the media. There are two broad categories of offensive, destructive language:
- Obscenity is language celebrating in vivid terms the baser elements of life, taking private things and waving them like a multicolored banner in the sight of all.
- Profanity is the denigrating of the Divine. It is revealing to note that the one name used as a constant curse is also the One Name whereby we can be saved. This is no accident.
These two forces are gross sins of our culture, of our nation. In this unabated storm of obscenity and profanity, truth is lost. In Isaiah’s words, “Truth has stumbled in the streets.” (Is 59:12-15)
The Rule of Emotion
Four decades ago, a popular song intoned this theology, “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” In the years since then, objective truth has been shunted aside by personal feelings. If feelings run deep enough, they become personal truth and are not to be challenged. No appeal to the revealed, objective truth of the Word of God can overrule the tyranny of one’s desires. If a human soul burns for something that is forbidden in the Bible, the Scriptures must be re-interpreted to match the yearning of that soul. This emotional relativity results in gender confusion and shakes the fundamental facts of human life.
Mark 10:6-9 NKJV
But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together,
let not man separate.”
The context of this exchange between Jesus and His critics is divorce but the principles apply to all aspects of human sexuality. Gender is the fundamental organizational principle of human life. Marriage between one man and one woman is the fundamental organizational structure of human society. Today we see these two pillars shaking from an earthquake of feelings, not facts.
Profiting from Human Weakness
The United States of America is a nation of industry, of commerce, of invention, and of progress. Where once we profited from the craftsmanship and creativity of people, today a troubling set of industries threatens our nation as never before—the addiction industries. Unscrupulous people get rich from the weaknesses of others. How this must offend the Lord God! The fallen human being is at the mercy of his/her felt needs. God provides healthy ways to feed these hungers, but evil forces also provide quick and easy solutions promising instant gratification. What are these industries? Here is the list I observe:
- Fantasy, and
All of these products are addictive. They take over the life of the addicted one. The leaders of these intoxication industries profit by and promote the consumption of these evil things caring not for lives that are ruined, the homes destroyed, or the human potential that is wasted. Their strategy is plain to see—make these things fun! Cover addiction with comedy. Present pornography as beauty. Sell impossible dreams at the gaming tables. Fill empty hearts with the fantastic and veil determined selfishness in deceitful vanity.
Devaluing Human Life
For emotion to rule human life, a fundamental lie must be taught at every opportunity—”human beings are really just the highest form of animal life.” The education and entertainment industries must sell this lie at every level.
- Babies are just globs of cells invading a woman’s body.
- Children must be taught that they are animals not living souls; we learn only through the five senses.
- Youth must be assured that their impulses must be obeyed—just be careful.
- Adults must be set loose on each other for life really is the survival of the fittest.
- The elderly can be disposed of when they have expended their usefulness.
These lies denude the human being of the image of God. Judeo-Christian belief holds that people are made in the image of God. If this is true, then all of human life possesses this value; human life is sacred. People are precious.
- The unborn child possesses full human value.
- Children must be taught to nurture their eternal souls.
- Youth must set about seeking God’s plan for their lives.
- Adults must function as brothers and sisters in the Family of God not as competitors in some sad game.
- Our elders must be held in highest regard; their usefulness is inherent in their lives.
How offensive it is to God to see His ultimate creation reduced to the level of an insect. So, the unborn child has no rights beyond the emotion of the woman who holds him/her in the womb. The multitude of casualties to this lie grows minute-by-minute. Who can blame the Lord for His wrath?
The Worship of Power
When people see themselves as Darwinian beasts, struggling for dominance in a random universe, power is all that matters. Life is a matter of survival, not service. One-has-to-do-what-one-has-to-do. I am reminded of the ironic quote from the Godfather films when a friend had to be eliminated, “It isn’t personal. It’s just business.”
The worship of power disguises itself in all manner of attractive costumes:
- Popularity, and
- Wealth, just to name a few.
The worship of power is a source of racial prejudice and the fear of immigrants. The presence of those who are different from us threatens our hold on power.
As Christ-followers, we must view life from a higher plane–the magnificent, peaceful power of Jesus. No one ever walked this earth in more power than Jesus.
- Demons and diseases fled at His command.
- Politicians and pundits shut their mouths rather than to argue with Him.
- Winds and waves grew still when He told them to.
Yet, in all the extensive record of His walk through this life, it is never recorded that power possessed Him.
- He turned down Satan’s offer of power in the wilderness temptation.
- He turned away from fame when those He had blessed wanted to tell everyone about Him.
- His message to His followers was to shun personal power and welcome personal responsibility.
Humility is the coin of His realm, not pride and power. Yes, He promised us power, but this would be the power of the Holy Spirit, not our power. We are the earthen vessel; the Spirit is the powerful treasure within us. (2 Cor 4:7) God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5) Sadly, sometimes the worship of power is found in the church. In a power hungry society, is there anything more heartbreaking than spectacle personal power on display in the church of the Prince of Peace?
What We Can Do
What can we who follow Jesus do about these and other sins of our nation? It may seem our duties are insignificant in the face of these enormous sins, but do not be deceived. Simple, consistent obedience to Jesus contains the Holy Spirit power Jesus promised. So, we must:
- Pray for our nation. When we are tempted to fret, let us pray instead. Through the Spirit we intercede with prayer.
- Speak the truth. We must counter the lies of this hour. Preachers, preach the whole truth. It is dangerous but it must be done! Witnesses, tell the truth–Jesus Story! There is salvation in it for all who believe. Let us never be ashamed of the Gospel.
- Live the truth. We must be a holy counterculture, laughing at different things, enjoying different entertainments, treasuring the right things, and living a life of service.
- Worship God. This is one of the two greatest things, the First Great Command: loving God. This is done in private prayer, in public worship and in holy living.
- Love People. This is the second command. We do not love them because they deserve it but because Jesus loves them. Remember He said that unbelievers will know we are His because of our love for each other. More than feelings of love, deeds of mercy are needed. Remember that nations judged as righteous will be those who relieved the suffering of the victims of the nations sins. To minister to their needs is to minister to Jesus. Remember His words, “I was hungry…thirsty…naked…sick…in prison and you came to Me.”
These are the options. We always have the choice to do the right thing. It may not be the immediately comfortable or profitable thing, it may be attended by grave personal risk, but the right thing is always an option. While these and other national sins damage our nation, our deeds of righteousness—worship/word/witness—exalt our nation. We become the salt that preserves, the single light that dispels darkness, and the shining city on a hill.
Will there ever be a day when the sins of our nation will be cast into the sea? We know that even these awful things were nailed to His cross. Someday, Jesus will rule this world in peace. Before that day, He will judge the nations. We live in this nation to be witnesses to the truth of God. We must tell it and we must live it.
© 2019 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved