Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20
As we stand aghast, almost in unbelief, at the acceleration of evil we cannot help but cry out "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" What once were considered free nations are fast becoming nations in bondage to the most God-less tyranny imaginable. Our God-given rights are being stripped from us almost daily. Accountability to God is now considered a criminal offense, punishable with time in prison. Obedience to Jesus' instruction to go and make disciples who follow after Him is an offense to many who demand retribution resulting in believers being mocked, imprisoned or killed. Without parents' approval, little children are being subjected to traumatizing indoctrination in things they should never have to learn. Those things which were once a hidden agenda are shamelessly being imposed on a stunned society left feeling helpless in the face of such insidious onslaught.
As believers, what are we to do? What is our fundamental responsibility? What of the hidden things inside of us? As believers, will we be found guiltless when it comes to calling good "evil" and evil "good?" Let's see what God's word has to say to us.
Good and evil
We know where the knowledge of good and evil came from. It is in every one of us from the day we were born, as in every person since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. That is the reason we need to be born again.
Jesus said the last days would be as in the days of Noah. Evil was rampant, as we read in Genesis 6:5. And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. There is no question that we live in an evil day, with only evil on the hearts of people in leadership around the world. Evil is being called "good" and good is being called "evil." But as Isaiah prophesied, "Woe to them!" And God will have the final say.
The Psalmist David said,
Fret not yourself because of evil-doers, neither be envious against them that work unrighteousness. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and follow after faithfulness. . . Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man that brings wicked devices to pass." Psalm 37:1-3, 7
And that is God's word to us with regard to the evil-doers. The key word there is "faithfulness." But what of the hidden things in us? Are we truly faithful? Or, are we still entrenched in flesh and self?
The "good" in man
The Apostle Paul spoke words that are applicable to every one of us. He said, "For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not." (Romans 7:18)
There is no good in man. Even Jesus, who came in the likeness of sinful flesh, said "Why do you call me good? none is good save one, even God." (Mark 10:18) Of course we know Jesus is the Son of God and is now with the Father, equal in every respect because they are One. But we are still in these mortal bodies which have no inherent good. The only "goodness" we can have comes from God. When we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, that which is revealed is Fruit of the Spirit.
Paul was speaking to the Corinthians about the responsibilities of ministers and stewards of the mysteries of God and how it is God who will be the ultimate Judge. He said,
So then judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who also will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make clear the purposes of the hearts. Then each one's praise shall come from God. Now these things, brothers, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, in order that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 1 Corinthians 4:5-6 EMTV
Since there is no inherent good in us, are we sure we are correct in our judgment of what is good and what is evil? As the prophet said, there are dire consequences to calling good "evil" and evil "good."
Obsession - revealed
What hidden obsessions do we have? Do we think because they are hidden that no one knows what we are truly made of? Let's look at some of the foolishness that comes with not allowing self to be completely crucified by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For example, are we obsessed with "being" righteous, following New Testament "rules" in an effort to please God? Are we trying to be "holy" in our own strength, believing we are New Testament believers; all the while relying on our knowledge of good and evil to impress God and others?
The children of Israel were given the Law of Moses to live by. As we've said before, the main point God was making was that they were to acknowledge Him as the LORD God. Their obedience to the Law showed that required acknowledgment. But when Jesus came and fulfilled the Law, the necessity to acknowledge God through deeds of the flesh (obedience) was changed. He made a new Covenant in His blood, and now His indwelling presence "wrote" His laws on the hearts, so that "obedience" was accomplished by His Spirit--His Grace. Paul explained it to the Romans with these words:
Therefore, if a Gentile keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, who fulfills the law, judge you along with your written code and circumcision, a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in flesh; but he is a Jew that is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God. Romans 2:26-29 EMTV
Jesus was asked, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" His answer was, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:28-29) If we are to truly "work the works of God," as disciples of Jesus, the most important thing is that our faith is firmly fixed in Him, and that we rely on Christ who is Righteousness personified. Oswald Chambers said,
If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.
In our obsession of "following Jesus," we may even have erected idols which, though hidden in our hearts, give the illusion that we are such wonderful Christians. But have we deceived ourselves into believing these "idols" are our "times with the Lord," or our "devotions," and that they are pleasing to Him? Allow me to elaborate by using another quote from Oswald Chambers.
Your god may be your little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. Watch how your Father will upset those times if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes--I can't do that just now, I am praying; it is my hour with God. No, it is your hour with your habit.
One of the ways God may upset our "times with Him" is by bringing across our path some soul in need of something. Maybe His purpose in doing so is to test our love for Him, to see if we will practice what He has taught us. It may even be that an individual "grates" on our nerves, or provokes us in some way, and the Lord desires to perfect our walk with Him--in love. After all, we are not made a new creature in Christ to become a spiritual hermit.
We can never hide anything from our God--He sees and knows everything. This passage makes the point abundantly clear: "And there is no creature hidden before Him, but all things are naked and open to His eyes, to whom we must give an account." (Hebrews 4:13 EMTV) We are accountable to God for our actions and attitudes toward every person in our lives, as well as the "strangers" He chooses to bring across our path. Let's examine ourselves before Him, and allow Him to purge us of every hidden thing. There will undoubtedly be forgiveness we must ask for, as well as forgive those who have wronged us. Jesus did not mince words when He said,
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that shall not be unveiled, and nothing secret that shall not be made known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in behind closed doors shall be proclaimed on the housetops. (Luke 12:1b-3 EMTV)
"Elitism" - revealed
This is another area where I believe the Lord would have us examine our hearts.
We, who have followed the call of the Master to "come out" of dead religion and partake of Life in Him, are not one iota better than those who are still in bondage. Never should we ever harbor arrogance in our hearts. We are blessed indeed that He has given us ears to hear and has revealed Himself to us.
Many there are who are deeply grieved at the present state of the 'church,' and we should be grieved! It is a dreadful thing to realize how deceived the 'lost in the pew' really are. And we all know people who are still blind to their true spiritual condition. They believe they are "right" with God, and countless numbers are waiting for Him to take them out of here so they will not suffer tribulation. They see those who have left organized religion as the "apostate" ones, when the whole institutional system is apostate.
Undoubtedly, we will face persecution from those who have not heard or responded to the call to "come out." This is something that is already occurring in the lives of many of us. But Jesus gave us immutable instruction which can be found in these words: ". . . love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, so that you may prove to be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44-45 EMTV)
May we stay true to the One who gave His all to redeem us. May we ever be faithful in surrender to His work of purification, so that as His Coming nears there is less and less of self with its filthy flesh.
We are not an elitist group, and it is only because of the Grace of God that this verse does not refer to us: "In as many things as she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give to her torment and sorrow; because she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am not a widow, and I shall by no means see sorrow.' (Revelation 18:7 EMTV)
One further thought: Is it possible that some who have "come out" are still in bondage to flesh and self, every bit as much as those who have not forsaken all to follow Jesus? May God expose what is hidden in our hearts! And may we repent before it is too late.
Protection - revealed
With all that is transpiring around the world, and the pace at which this downward spiral is taking place, we can know the comforting hand of Almighty God. In all the things we may be called upon to endure, there is not one that is hid from the eyes of God. In His Word there are countless promises to those who have gone the way of the Cross and are part of Jesus' body. The following paragraphs are for our edification and encouragement.
When there is no physical place to hide from the tyranny of godless men, we have a God Who will not hide Himself from us. He is all-knowing, and all who are His will never be out of His sight. No matter how terrible things may get, He will never leave us, nor forsake us. As the Psalmist said, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1) The spiritual life is more real than the physical life. Can we grasp that reality? The spirit lives on; this life is only a passing moment. That "secret place" is THE place to be, because it means we are under the shadow of the Almighty. The word "shadow" means that God is "hovering over" us, and if He is hovering over us in the "secret place," how can the enemy "see" us? Even if our mortal body ceases to exist, it is only the beginning for those who belong to Jesus.
When jobs are lost, homes are foreclosed, and helplessness threatens to overtake minds, remember the prophet's words: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)
When children have strayed from the Lord and from home, anguish can so easily assail the hearts of parents and grandparents. Fear may "knock at the door," and sleep may not come easily, but David spoke words of comfort. He said,
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer your foot to be moved: he that keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper: the LORD is your shade upon your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil: he shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121:1-8
We quoted earlier the first three verses from Luke 12, about those things that are hidden being revealed. During these turbulent times, when even fear of death may come upon many, it is good to keep in mind the next words Jesus spoke.
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing further they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear Him who after He kills, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head have all been numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7 EMTV
When it seems that things cannot get any worse, we can rest assured that there is a God in heaven whose Son dwells in our hearts by His Spirit. It is with that in mind, that the Apostle Paul's words become a promise of hope.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Just as it is written: "For Your sake we are put to death the whole day long; we are accounted as sheep for slaughter." But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 EMTV
Nothing, but nothing, can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, because He is Love and He dwells in us! There is no separation; we are one with Him. There is nothing we face that He is not there, with us. That is why we are more than conquerors.
The final Scripture passage I would like to share is from David's Psalm of praise.
The LORD upholds all that fall, and raises up all those that are bowed down. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserves all them that love him; but all the wicked will he destroy. Psalm 145:14-20
God sees and He cares; no matter what man may say, this will be God's finest hour, when all evil is overcome by His mighty power. His Good will bring about the defeat of EVERY evil devised by tyrannical man of flesh.
In closing, please read this message by Andrew Murray: Ye Are the Branches. It is absolutely vital that we fully understand the work of God's Grace in our lives.
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