DRAWING NEAR – PART 17
NEGOTIATING A BALANCE WITH GOD
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
I am told on a regular basis, “Write something that makes us feel good instead of depressing information that upsets us.” I understand perfectly. We want to live in a happy bubble where we only read and watch messages that allow us to relax and enjoy life. However, being positive all the time is NOT the issue here, it actually has much to do with where we are IN Christ. You see, we should love and seek truth because God IS true, but truth is not always going to be something we want to hear. Discovering that we need an operation is “discouraging news” but could end up saving us! Amen! Humanity has always been open minded and excited to confuse evil with good because it tries to cloud and excuse our guilt. Adam and Eve were the original pioneers of agreeing with Satan and adopted justification to cover their disobedience. Since then, this world has drifted so far from shore, it can hardly see land and sadly is hardly alarmed. Is it any surprise that the world cannot sense the coming danger and has no idea where they are going? When the compass of God’s absolute truth is thrown overboard and direction is left up to those who are spiritually blind – what can be expected? If evil were not made to appear good, there would be no such thing as temptation or deception and when people stop caring about right and wrong we can guarantee that society (regardless of titles or affiliations) is destined for collapse.
A word I hear quite often is “balance” and in fact, I use it myself but I have found the deeper we go with God, the more challenges we face with how we should live and many of these decisions involve compromise. If we study with the intention of learning our responsibilities to the Lord, we will discover amazing demands from Him that will require us to make painful choices as to what we should let go of and what we need to hold onto – without carnal justification. We do not hear this taught often but God most of the time operates in black and white. What does this mean? It means that though He is filled with mercy and long-suffering, He is also very strict when it comes to obedience. When He says, “do not look back” He means what He says (as turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt proves His point). We also pull out the word “legalism” in this day and age when the new style of Christianity is projecting an image of soft and easy with God being like a sympathetic old man that feels sorry for everyone and cuts a lot of slack. This really becomes noticeable especially at funerals where it seems that being generous toward others is an automatic induction into heaven. Ministers have evidently thought they should try and make everyone feel good so that when we sing, “When we ALL get to heaven” we can wipe a tear and pat each other on the back because we know that Jesus saves. For example, when I read a scripture that commands me to take up my cross and follow Him, I immediately try to figure out how I can do this and continue living the same. My flesh does not waste a moment trying to comfort and assure me that it already knows how to handle this without change, sacrifice or suffering even though the Lord has said being a remnant disciple will cost me everything. The flesh will continue to declare “I surrender ALL” but this does not really mean to give up everything but rather to do the best you can while trying to find a perfect “balance.” Ahhhhh…the word that fixes it all. This is usually a plan that will include going to church or at least reading a scripture every now and then while not allowing any type of consideration to relinquish control. We love to create our own destiny from our desires and visions and then cover it in a delicious chocolate coating called compromise. We avoid looking carefully at the meaning of balance because we do NOT want to see the gut-wrenching truth. In reality “balance” is attempting to reduce the authority of what has been demanded and in order to cut a deal with God we are going to somehow have to bring Him down on our level. (This is where we get the idea of creating Him in our own image). Here are the ugly meanings of what our human nature stands for when we try to find a balance between us being an extremist for Jesus verses adding a little religion to our established lifestyle – “Making concessions, a settlement of a dispute, making a deal, coming to a mutual understanding, finding a happy medium, accepting a lower standard, undermining, weak, bringing damage, to jeopardize, to dishonor and bring shame to the original purpose.” So, hopefully we are willing to see that relying on our logical explanation while trying to find a “middle ground” with the commands of God is really utilizing rebellion in order to keep us safe from spiritual accountability unto Him.
Modern social righteousness has always had its own ideas but now it has become a fierce enemy toward the acknowledgement of the Bible. Someone has said: “A wrong deed is right if the majority of people declare it not to be wrong” and with the falling away from the faith in God and the love for Him waxing cold, we can know our society is heading for moral disaster. We have watched our standards slowly shifting from year to year according to the popular vote! The many things that used to be offensive and taboo to the general public are now laughed about as they are celebrated every night as a part of our entertainment. Fornication, adultery, murder, abuse, nudity, shocking extreme violence and shameless profanity is glorified in our literature and films and the masses drink it up because they are thirsty for sin! However the reality about God’s demand for purity has not changed and His standards of holiness have not been lowered. God still calls immorality a sin, and the Bible says God is going to judge it all! Honesty was once the hallmark of character but it has been set aside with an “It’s all right if you don’t get caught” philosophy. Darkness sneaks its way into our lives by presenting a harmless appearance, such as television shows that portray distinguished families opening wine at every meal and then sipping on a glass of bourbon after dinner in the warmth of a well-appointed room. These images do not talk about the number of new alcoholics that are being made every day, nor of the problem of excessive drinking that is eating at the heart of our civilization. Of course it wouldn’t be in good taste to show “soap operas” of successful people that end up losing everything that began their drinking as a social habit but now find themselves captured by its influence. Young people who believe that having alcohol in every room of the house as a sign of prominence and higher intellectual standards are not seeing the other side of the picture – the tragic view of sin. We cannot play with vipers without eventually being bitten. “Woe to those who call evil good!” The young couples, though they have been warned of the psychological and spiritual downfalls of premarital or extramarital intimacies, dance with tragedy, all the while calling the experience heavenly. That which is sanctified holy within the marriage bond can become a torment within the soul to those who indulge in lust and perversion. How did the world come to this point where our values and convictions are confused? We were warned that Satan has laid deceptive snare traps and how dark evil temptations were lurking behind every corner for the purpose of destroying lives. But people do not want to listen because they think that pleasure brings happiness and immediate gratification naturally prompts us to think of evil as good. Someone has said: “As the occasion, so the behavior” as we have changed our moral code to fit our behavior instead of changing our behavior to submit to God’s moral code. We believe that whether it is legal or not, that no one has the right or power to stop us from doing as we please. Constant rebellion causes our conscience to be calloused and this deadening of our spiritual discernment is a result of our hunger for perversion which cannot be quenched. We no longer blush, are insulted, offended or shocked by the aggressive immorality that’s going on around about us which speaks volumes about our conscience. “Woe to those who call evil good!”
Do you believe that people know what is genuine and what is false? Are you feeling that many now do not know right from wrong and others that may have somewhat of a sense do not care? When something brings profit or pleasure to us we are inclined to call evil good, even though we know it is absolutely wrong. We hear people all the time say, “It was such a good deal and I just can’t stop myself.” These are excuses we manufacture to justify evil and call it good. Are we prepared to explain to God that we loved pleasure more than Him? We have heard many times, “Anyone that was in my position would have done the same thing.” This reminds me of how Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit. Remember the self-righteous Pharisee in Luke chapter 18 who stood and prayed: “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.” He could not see that he was as sinful as these other people he was criticizing. This hyper-spiritual Pharisee kidded himself into thinking he was something when in truth he was not any more holy than anyone else. This is an example of skilled rationalization that can become so deceptive that our lives may never change. However, the tax collector, whom the Pharisee looked upon as the most sinful of men, saw himself as he was, and said: “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” There were no religious church games in this or pride or being judgmental – it is just simple humble honesty. This is the attitude that will allow us to recognize right and wrong. We need to remember that if it were not for the grace of God that we would still be heading down the road of hopelessness. Saul before his conversion to Christ in Acts chapter 9, was convinced that Jesus was a terrible evil and was in charge of torturing and murdering the disciples of the Lord. But after he encountered Christ on the Damascus Road, he loved whom he had so fervently hated. Verse18 says, “there fell from his eyes something like scales.” He saw truth and was willing to submit his ALL to the one who gave all to him. He did NOT try to argue, negotiate a deal or compromise to find a BALANCE!