SIMPLE TRUTH: In our society, what must believers do?

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Charles Christmas

Standing in line to greet the family before a funeral service recently, I shared my age with my new friend. He remarked, “You have seen a lot of changes during your lifetime.” I responded, “Yes, some very wonderful changes in transportation, communication, travel, science and technology, but very tragic and disturbing changes in society.”

And if you are old enough and care enough, you will agree with me about the “the tragic and disturbing” deterioration of society before our eyes in our own community, state and being promoted worldwide. A Bible description of such is found in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and Romans 1:18-38. Believers cannot escape living in the midst of the reality and atmosphere of such deterioration. In praying for us, Jesus said, “Father, my prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. Make them different (sanctify them) by your Word, your word is truth” (John 17:15-17). The Bible guides us to four simple things which believers must do in the midst of the present and oncoming deterioration.

First, stay with the simple truth of God’s word which has gotten believers to where we are and will carry us on into the future. In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul said to Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” Then he assured Timothy that the same simple truth of the Bible would carry him on into the future. “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in the right way to live, so that the child of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Second, follow proven role models and become a Godly role model for others. Speaking as a role model for Timothy, Paul reminded him of some key requirements in our role models. “You, however, know all about my teachings, my lifestyle, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, and my willingness to be persecuted and I did endure persecution as we must be willing if need be” (2 Timothy 3:10-12). Your peers may not be proven role models.

Third, obey the simple teaching of our Lord Jesus concerning prayer being our resource for strength in the face of temptation and testing. The two greatest testing and temptations for Jesus were at the very beginning and the end of his ministry. Prior to the onslaught of the temptations and testing from Satan, Jesus spent 40 days alone with the Father in the fasting of prayer and meditation. Prior to his ultimate test of death on the cross to fulfill the will of God for his life, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sought the courage and commitment and obedience which could only be found in prayer. In his model prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us in deliverance from evil.” In Matthew 26:41 Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”

Fourth, depend upon the “Helper” who is within us. The Bible says, “Greater is he who is within us than he that is within the world.” Jesus promised he would never leave us as orphans, but by his Spirit he would be our ever present helper: beside us and within us.

We are not to have a defensive, discouraged, pessimistic mindset. Jesus said that he is building his church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. He said that we are his light in a dark world and the salt of the earth in the midst of deterioration. We are not a part of the darkness but a light. We are not to be a part of the problem but rather the answer. We are not to be a part of the sickness but rather the remedy. He has commissioned us to “hold forth the word of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” We are “by dying to produce much fruit.” The man who was our Lord’s instrument for the greatest change in the world’s society for godliness expressed his commitment in these words: “Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or by death. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21). How about you and me? What’s our commitment?

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.