I have been so disoriented the past few days. What is happening in our nation is mind-boggling. Heart-breaking. Soul-wrenching.
Of course, recovering from the coronavirus in the midst of all this only makes my mind more fuzzy.
But I have been on my knees praying for our nation. I have been praying for wisdom on how to think, how to respond, how to live.
And God brought me back to His Word.
It is our north star.
It is our authority.
In fact, this is the time where you find out if your submission to and dependence on the Word of God is real or just lip-service. Do you run to His Word or to your latest news outlet? Do you take every thought captive to the Word of God or are you too captivated with social media posts?
Scripture is clear.
In the midst of a deceptive time, when evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, you cast your anchor firmly in the Word of God.
None of us are immune to deception. That is what makes it so powerful, so pervasive, so dangerous. The deceived never think they are deceived. They claim that they know the truth. They claim a special kind of gnostic knowledge of what is “really happening.”
Don’t go down that road.
Don’t fall for the gnosticism of conspiracy theories.
Go to the Word of God.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Scripture is sufficient.
Scripture grounds you.
Scripture re-orients you.
Scripture equips you to live.
Here are seven biblical principles that speak to our unique times.
1. Be careful of those who say that they have had a dream or some kind of special prophecy.
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.
“The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream;
And he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully.
What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord.
“Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord,
“And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:25-29)
Anyone can claim to have a “dream,” a special word from God. People have been doing it since Jeremiah’s day, 3000 years ago. But the true standard is the Word of God. A dream is like “chaff” compared to the wheat of God’s Word. A dream is like a faint flicker compared to the consuming fire of God’s Word.
Can God speak through a dream? Sure. It can happen. But at its best a dream would point someone to Jesus Christ and to His Word. A dream more often than not is the making of our own thoughts and desires, regardless of how “holy” or “spiritual” it may appear to be.
It is the sign of our age that many people like having their ears tickled with tantalizing dreams that affirm what they already want to hear.
2. Our hope is not in political power or individuals.
Stop trusting in mere humans,
who have but a breath in their nostrils.
Why hold them in esteem? (Isaiah 2:22)
If your faith is shaken by the results of a political election, then your faith is in the wrong place. God’s purposes are not altered by a political election.
In fact, God raises up leaders and takes them down for His own purposes.
The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account,
But He does according to His will among the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can fend off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4:32b, 34b-35)
The church has never done well when it has sought for or aligned itself with political power. And the church certainly does not do well when it depends on political power for its hope and its confidence.
Earthly power is deceptive…and intoxicating.
We participate in politics as faithful citizens of this nation…but we only trust in the name of the Lord as citizens of a greater kingdom. A kingdom that is eternal and unshakeable.
3. God often ordains for His people to be purified through difficult times.
Jesus never promised that things would be easy in this world. In fact, He promised just the opposite.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Yes, we should be concerned about what is going on in our nation. Yes, we have reason to believe that religious liberty may be threatened. But no, we do not have reason to fear or to act in a way that is contrary to our calling.
Habakkuk was a man who lived in perilous times. He cried out for God to answer. And God answered by announcing judgment on the nation through the Babylonians.
And the message to Habakkuk was simple and clear: The righteous shall live by faith.
God’s ways are higher than our ways…and we trust Him.
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
4. Every action of the believer must be governed by the Spirit of God.
Here is the test for evaluating any movement: is it of the flesh or of the Spirit? What does it produce?
The works of the flesh. Sexual immorality. Moral license. Idolatry. Hatred. Contention. Envy. Outbursts of anger. Selfish ambition. Dissension. Drunkenness. Rioting.
The fruit of the Spirit. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.
Being “spiritual” has nothing to do with mysticism, strange manifestations, and loud proclamations. It has everything to do with one’s character and fruit. A Spirit-filled believer is one who is singing songs of praise in his heart, giving thanks for all things, and relating to others with an attitude of submissiveness.
That is the test.
5. Revival comes through brokenness and repentance not anger and cynicism.
Strong leaders call people to brokenness and repentance.
Strong leaders call people to faith in God alone.
Weak leaders call attention to themselves.
Weak leaders cast blame and stir up dissension.
God revealed to Solomon, the Son of David, this vital truth:
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
If anger motivates our actions, then it cannot produce the righteousness of God.
If cynicism characterizes our outlook, then it cannot be rooted in the sure hope of Jesus Christ.
6. We are called to win the world not condemn it.
Our Savior did not come to condemn the world but to save it.
And we are called to do the same.
We have no business spending our time judging unbelievers. That is God’s business.
For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. (1 Corinthians 5:12-13a)
Our business is to live such exemplary lives that we adorn the gospel of God.
Our business is to do what is honorable before the sight of all people and to pursue peace with all people as a way of displaying the character of Christ.
Our business is to let our speech always be with grace that we might know how to respond to everyone who asks us about the hope that is within us.
Our business is to see no one according to the flesh but to see them as people made in the image of God and those for whom Jesus Christ died.
Our business is to shine the light of Jesus Christ through our good works that others might glorify God.
Our business is to become all things to all people in order that we might win them to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our business is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
7. Loving God and loving people is the mark of true believers.
The Great Commandment is the Great Commandment. It does not change depending on the times or the circumstances.
Without love, whatever we do…no matter how great it may seem…is worthless.
Without love, whatever we say…no matter how good it may seem…is just an irritating noise.
And the character of love is evident.
It is patient.
It is kind.
It is not proud or boastful.
It is not rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable or resentful.
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing but in the truth.
It never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
This kind of love never fails.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
The world is given permission to evaluate us based on our love. When we fail that test, then the world has every right to question where our true discipleship lies…whom we are truly following.
In chaotic times, the church returns to its roots, its foundation, its creed.
We only have one God.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!