The World, the Saint & the Devil

The Unconverted Heart

To say that times have changed is putting it mildly, for society’s moral standing has deteriorated drastically over the past twenty years.

As it is, I am somewhat perplexed and cannot harmonize between man’s advancing technological prowess and his ever-decreasing moral convictions.

From the human point of view it would seem logical that intellectual and scientific advancement should influence and eventually establish moral excellence. One would think that a world brimming with all the modern conveniences and luxuries, which are created to enhance the quality of life, should be free of moral perversions and lewdness. But tragically this is not the case in our high-tech society. 21st Century technology has in no way restricted the ever increasing evil in our world. Instead, it has successfully brought it into the homes of God’s children and opened up endless avenues of perversion for the ungodly. While there are many good uses of technology, it’s questionable as to just how much the evils outweigh the benefits.

Of course, the basic reason for man’s decreasing morality—in contradistinction to his advancing brilliance—is his inherent fallen nature or the ‘unconverted heart’ as eluded to in scripture. The Bible emphatically describes the unconverted heart as being evil, and the source of all sinful and immoral desires.

Satan, in his scheme to destroy mankind through temptations and worldliness, capitalizes on the desires of man’s fallen nature and targets “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” (1 Jn. 2:16).

Jeremiah recorded the words of God saying, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (sick): who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Also, in the gospel of Matthew, the Lord Jesus stated, “For out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Mt. 15:19).

Upgrading the environment or forcing change externally will not alter the carnal desires and motivations of the unsaved heart.

There are instances when a good education can modify a person’s behaviour and add some aspects of cultural refinement, but it will not remove the deep-seated evil that resides in the fallen nature of man. When cornered with a negative situation or exposed to a carnal and lustful environment, the unconverted heart can potentially bring to the surface every form of evil that the human mind can possibly conceive. The ‘unconverted Christian’ or the seemingly modest, but ungodly individual are not excluded from this manifestation of evil. Even children who are raised in a Christian home will eventually submit to the fleshly desires of their inherent sinful nature unless they experience a genuine conversion for themselves.

Faking our conversion is the gravest error we can make in our sanctification process, and can result in withdrawal and backsliding.

Moral Decline

With these thoughts in mind it should be no surprise to us that a modern metropolis such as the city of Toronto, with its renowned state-of-the-art structures, can so comfortably waddle in the quagmire of the basest immorality and sin. Whether it be sodomy, drunkenness or any other form of immoral conduct, God will execute judgment against sin. The scripture declares that, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov. 14:34). Also, in Psalm 9:17 it is stated that, “The wicked shall be turned into hell (the grave), and all the nations that forget God.”

For a moment, consider and analyze the rapid decline of morality in our society. There was a time when an immoral activity such as the gay lifestyle was classified as a crime. ‘Buggery,’ or the homosexual act, was a sickening and disgusting immoral practice in the ‘60s. In many countries, anyone involved in such an indecent activity was charged and penalized by the legal system. But times have changed and moral standards have been so compromised that a simple crime such as petty theft is still penalized while buggery is not only embraced as an ‘alternate lifestyle,’ but is flaunted in our streets and protected by those in authority.

As a Christian I understand that man’s depraved nature will constantly battle his spiritual desire to serve God and will often result in immoral behaviour. Anyone can fall into sinful practices. But when the immoral man takes pride in his sinful lifestyle by aggressively flaunting it in public, then tries to force his perverted ways on others, it is time for the Christian to stand in the defense and protection of the spiritual rights of his home and family. An ungodly government will not protect the rights of the Christian home. As I have been saying over the past years, there will come a time when civil government will restrict the Christian’s freedom of speech and classify the Bible as hate literature.

It should not surprise us that the biblical principles governing the family are already targeted, and simple acts of discipline within the home are now treated as crimes. What a rapid decline of morality! What a sick society! May God protect the thought-pattern of the Body of Christ so that it will never accommodate or accept any form of immorality or worldliness as the norm in society.

Since we are the ones witnessing the rapid moral deterioration of our society, I shall endeavour to bring to light a few important facts to assist us in our continuous sanctification. Speaking of sanctification, our Lord Jesus prayed, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil…Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (Jn. 17:15 & 17).

Is this not the purpose of the Church?

Should this not be the end result of conversion and sanctification?

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians suggested that we be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom [we should] shine as lights in the world…” (Phil. 2:15).

Recognizing Darkness

As we briefly examine the workings of God in our lives and His process of sanctification, it becomes necessary for everyone of us, as children of God, to be able to distinguish between the world and the Church, the flesh and the Spirit, light and darkness, God and the Devil. In most cases there must be a black and white distinction between sin and righteousness. Shades of grey will lead us into a spiritual twilight zone and eventually into total darkness. For us to be sanctified from the world so that we “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”, it becomes necessary for us to be able to vividly identify the world, then set up appropriate boundaries.

We cannot walk in light if our perception of light and darkness is inaccurate. How can we be a part of the Body of Christ if we drink daily from the cup of devils? Can we tell the difference between the Body of Christ and the body of the Beast?

Of course, if we are a part of the Body of Christ we will submit to the leadership of our Lord Jesus without compromise or hesitation. This is accomplished by our reverence and submission to a God-called ministry. Upon examination of ourselves, we may discover that many of us are on a rapid drift downhill.

Vexed by the Ungodly

For the past few years life here in North America has become increasingly uncomfortable for me as a Christian. The immodest and vulgar fashions of the ungodly that expose the sensitive parts of the body are not only embarrassing and revolting, but have successfully dominated our communities.

As I perceive it, modesty is rapidly being eroded as we enter into an era of nudity and gross immorality. Whether it be on roadside billboards, media entertainment or the printed page, sex and immorality are highlighted with limited restrictions. The question is, how can a decent minded child of God live comfortably in the midst of such an ever- increasingly sick society?

Failure to maintain a continuous resentment to the evil that exists around us will positively develop a spirit of compromise followed by acceptance and involvement.

In his description of God’s judgment of the ungodly, the Apostle Peter showed that Lot was “vexed with the filthy [lifestyle] of the wicked: (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)…” (2 Pet. 2:7-8).

My effort to mentally place myself in Lot’s position leaves me with much to ponder.

Why did Lot, being a righteous man, choose to dwell in such an ungodly environment as Sodom? How long did it take him to become “vexed” with the ungodliness that existed around him? Would he have remained in the city had the angels not forced him out?

As we continue to examine our associations with the ungodly in the light of these biblical examples, do we feel comfortable living in our ungodly environment? When we pursue relaxation, entertainment, fashion or personal goals, are we being influenced by and becoming dependent on the unconverted to satisfy these desires? Has conversion made a difference between our lifestyle and that of the unsaved, or are we still walking as Gentiles?

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle admonished the saints to refrain from drifting back into their sinful past. He said, “This I say… that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleaness with greediness.” (Eph. 4:17-19).

In addressing the same issue of drifting back into an ungodly lifestyle, the Apostle Peter wrote saying, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Pet. 2:20-21). Have we drifted back into our past lifestyle without even realizing it?

It would be profitable for us to recognize the fact that Lot did not move into Sodom overnight. His drifting into that ungodly city was gradual, yet progressively in the wrong direction. Scripture states that he “pitched his tent toward Sodom”. (Gen 13:12). It was not long afterward that he was dwelling in the city. I wonder what motivated Lot to sit in the gate of Sodom, address the ungodly men as “brethren”, then offer his virgin daughters to be abused by the men of Sodom? Was Lot responsible for the marital union between his children and the ungodly inhabitants of Sodom? Can we drift so far into a backslidden mode that we lose our spiritual standing and godly convictions as well?

Our Reality

As I analyze the spiritual condition of the church today, I find myself faced with two alternatives: I can either follow suit and ‘play church’ like the mass of Christianity by ignoring reality, or I can face the blatant facts of the sick condition that we, the Church, are in today. I must resort to the latter.

To get a better focus of our present condition it becomes necessary for us to lay aside all self-righteousness and feelings of spiritual superiority. Unless God helps us to recognize how powerless and helpless we are in our commitment to Him and our sanctification from the world we will never sincerely pursue a spiritual recovery. As a result, our spiritual growth will not be progressive and “the mark for the prize of the high calling of God” will never be reached. Therefore, I suggest that every one of us, whether preacher or saint, consider the following in our self-examination.

Faking: Whether it be conversion, Holy Ghost baptism or any other religious activity within the Church, we cannot afford to pretend and fake. This is hypocrisy!

Religion could be played out craftily as was done in Israel on many occasions (see Isaiah 1:10-20), but unless we are genuinely transformed, our religious efforts will be in futility. Like Sardis, we may have a reputation that we are alive, but in the sight of God we may be classified as being dead. (Rev. 3:1-6). The flesh will profit nothing.

As a matter of fact, fleshly efforts in worship will often result in demonic manifestations. It is even worse when the preachers fail to tell the difference between the moving of the Holy Ghost and demonic intrusions in a service. Pastors should never force their congregations into fleshly pretence.

Identifying the world: It is necessary for the child of God to be able to identify between what is worldly and what is godly. Times have changed and the Devil has given worldliness a brand new appearance so that even sin now looks beautiful. Scripture declares that “friendship of the world is enmity with God…” (Js. 4:4). We are also exhorted to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world”, for if we do, the love of the Father is not in us. (1 Jn. 2:15).

These scriptures are not to be taken lightly as the consequences are rather severe. A child of God must be able to recognize what would displease the Holy Ghost and avoid the same. This is what being lead of the Spirit is all about. The same perception of identifying worldliness may also be utilized in differentiating between light and darkness, righteousness and sin, the Spirit and the flesh, and God and the Devil.

Submitting to Christ: Scripture describes two bodies in the earth today: the Body of Christ and the body of the Beast. There are also two cups: the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. It does take a revelation to identify the difference between what is of the Lord and that which is associated with the Devil. However, in order for a child of God to cease from drinking of the cup of devils and stop associating with beastly activities it demands a persistent submission to the Holy Ghost. We are to “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:16 & 25).

Let us not overlook the fact that civil government, with all that it provides in sports, entertainment, fashion, education and industry are all benefits offered by the beast. Some are vital to the effective function and stability of society, while others are designed by the Devil to undermine and eventually destroy faith in God.

In understanding this concept, the Apostle Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to use this world, while not abusing it. (1 Cor 7:31). In simple language, we are not to allow any aspect of our required worldly involvement to infringe on our religious commitments.

In the temptations of Christ, the Devil suggested that the Lord miraculously transform stone into bread. This was no violation of God’s law. As a matter of fact, bread was one of the necessities of life. It can be compared to other necessities such as a job or a home. But the Lord recognized the source of the temptation and perceived the purpose of the plot. He understood that when the Devil makes provisions for the child of God his ultimate motive is to destroy relationship and commitment to God by gradually crowding our lives with the “cares of this world”. (Mt. 13:22). Also, we are to make sure that our minds do not feed on that which flows from the Devil’s cup — we should not attach ourselves to any aspect of the body of the Beast.

Self-Analysis: Finally, it would be wise to once again re-establish our spiritual goal, or that which we anticipate as our final destination. For most of us, our entire Christian life revolves around the desire to be conformed to the image of Christ. To effectively determine our present standing in God, it may be necessary to look back to the time of our conversion, then evaluate the spiritual progress we have made since then. Have we moved ahead or are we drifting backwards?

May God assist us in the honest examination of ourselves in the light of His word. Perhaps many of us will need a second conversion.