“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, teaching us that, renouncing godlessness and worldly desires, we should live, in the present age, showing self control, and righteously and in a godly manner, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus, who gave Himself up on our behalf, that He might redeem us from all lawlessness and cleanse for Himself a special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2: 11-14).
In today’s society, nerves are jaded and tastes corrupted by the artificiality and overstimulation provided by the prevailing zeitgeist – the spirit of the age – and Christians are victims of this as much as anyone else. In Christianity, the holy has become vulgarized and the sacred secularized; worship now has become a form of entertainment to sustain the interest and participation of adherents; the meeting places are governed by business principles and commercial considerations; the whole moral and psychological atmosphere has become one with the world – secular and common. This condition poses the greatest threat to believers today.
The history of the Church shows us that the times of suffering have also been the times when the Church focused its attention upward towards the Lord of Glory. Tribulation and persecution have always borne the fruit of strengthening the faith of God’s people; contrariwise, times of peaceful existence in this world have worked to produce a corruption of the purity of the faith into a worldliness and a carnality that works against holiness.
Today in the West, we live in an era of peaceful co-existence with the world and our theology has suffered accordingly; what is emphasized in our theology nowadays is the utility of the Cross in freeing man from the consequences of his sin, rather than the glory and the majesty of the One who died upon it. The relationship of a believer to Christ has been robbed of its romance and is now presented as an across the counter transaction in which the believer escapes his just deserts by the simple act of believing. This “work” of the Lord has become more important than the Lord of the “work”; what He has done for me assumes more importance than who He is!
If God’s people will not bring themselves back to the place to which they have been called – to abiding in Christ – then they must expect that God will wean them away from the attractions of the world and the flesh the hard way, through persecution and tribulation. World events are shaping up so that to confess Christ will soon become as dangerous in our part of the world as it is in countries under Islamic rule. This is one way, probably the only way, in which the sheep will be separated from the goats.
Therefore, “Consecrate yourselves this day to the Lord” (Exodus 32:29) and “Press on to perfection” (Hebrews 1:6).