"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
The Opportunity to Shine as Lights
By Fred O. Blakely
There are two ways in which the widespread sin and wantonness of the time can affect the people of God. It can discourage them to the extent that they, in hopeless resignation, exclaim, "What's the use" of proclaiming God's truth and striving against the rampant iniquity! On the other hand, those imbued with the Spirit of Christ can take the situation as a summons to draw closer to Him, and increase their stand for His verity, as well as their opposition to present-day lawlessness and immorality.
In the latter response, the evil is seen as a challenge to the faith and devotion of the saints, to which they react with spiritual heroism. The "climate of the age" in itself is anything but conducive to godliness and aggressive preaching. But those risen and reigning with Christ are not governed by the spirit and manner of the world, but by the God of glory, who dwells in and animates them. Hence, when the obstacles to their fidelity increase, "God giveth more grace," as James declares (Jas. 4:5-6), and they gladly receive and use it, to His glory.
Our lives and works are not determined by worldly thinking and conditions, but by God, with whom we are in fellowship through His beloved Son. Such situation and procedure is the Divine will for us, as Paul makes clear in Philippians 2:14-16. God's children are to be "blameless and harmless," "without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," among which they "shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life". The greater the darkness about them, the bigger the opportunity to shine the light of God into it, for those who are "the children of light" and of "the day" (I Th. 5:5-8). The church of The Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, must be constrained by the gross darkness and evil of today to all-out holiness of life and proclamation of God's truth. They have His Word for it that such efforts are "not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58). God will work through sanctified people, and His Word will accomplish that which He purposes, and "prosper in the thing" whereunto it is sent (Isa. 55:10-11; cf. ch. 53:10).
"Take heed that no man deceive you,” Jesus warned the disciples (Mt. 24:4; cf. I Cor. 15:33). "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” He continued (v. 12). "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (v. 13; cf. ch. 10:22: Rev. 2:10). That situation is being fully demonstrated now, as the materialism, carnality, and self-indulgence of this generation are turning many from Christ and the church, who formerly were devoted to them.
Here, the conflict of sin with God and one's relish for the things of God is forcefully exemplified. Paul declares that unrighteousness "hinders, or "suppresses" the truth (Rom. 1:18, ASV, RSV). "Fleshly lusts," recognizes Peter, "war against the soul" (I Pet. 2:11). God's people are, thus, to "eschew (hate and turn away from) evil, and do good" (ch. 3:11). This, they simply must do, if they are to be used by God in the implementation of His purpose in Christ. To draw back from doing that is to disqualify oneself for service in the kingdom, and to forfeit the benefits that are proffered in the Lord Jesus.
The Prophet Hosea declared (ch. 10:12). "Break up your fallow ground [cf. Rom. 13:11-14]." "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you." The opportunities for such sowing today are virtually unlimited. They include those for the forceful proclamation of God's inflexible moral requirements for this widely-immoral generation. Likewise involved is the opportunity and obligation to preach the whole counsel of God in reproof and correction of the rampant religious errors of the time. In all such endeavors, those who engage in them are sowing "to the Spirit," and thus shall reap "life everlasting," with all the glories that comprehends (Gal. 6:6-10).
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).