I am old enough to remember when public prayer in public schools and in the name of Jesus Christ occurred frequently if not normally, when sound biblical preaching could be heard on secular radio stations every day of the week around the entire nation, when an “Ozzie and Harriett” lifestyle was considered to be normal, and when claiming to be a Christian was considered a positive thing. I am old enough to remember when divorce, adultery, and abortion were considered to be shameful, if not illegal, when spanking children was considered to be necessary and admirable, when taking the name of the Lord in vain was never heard on television, when pride and self-esteem were considered to be vices, and when homosexuality was considered to be a sin of egregious proportions. And I could go on at length. But the fact is that our nation has degenerated at such a rapid rate that it has become impossible to keep up with all the evidence of declension and apostasy.
In another day and to another people, the prophet Isaiah decried the rebellion of a nation that had scorned the blessings and privileges that God had bestowed upon it. He called the entire universe to witness the sins of the people: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isa. 1:2-6).
As a nation, we, too, are galloping toward hell. Many so-called Protestant clergy applaud Roman Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, and every other false religion in the world. We have rebelled against the Lord. The ox and the ass know who feeds them and where to go to find food, yet we have exalted the Virgin Mary, Mohammed, and a Jesus who bears no resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is presented in the Bible. We neither know nor consider God’s holy claims and righteous demands, shaping a god in our own image, creating personal morals that reject the righteousness of God, and living as if time would endure forever and that heaven and hell are figments of man’s imagination. We are laden with iniquity and filled with corrupters. Government legislates sin and calls it good; schools teach children the lies of evolution and moral relativism; pulpits proclaim messages touting self-esteem and get-rich schemes. We have forsaken the Lord and abandoned His truth.
As another faithful prophet of the Lord observed: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (Lam. 3:22). The Lord may actively judge us for our rebellion against His righteous ways, particularly in view of all the blessings that we have been privileged to enjoy from His hand. Or He may just allow us to descend of our own weight into the slime pit of depravity because sin bears in itself the seeds of its own destruction. I see no likelihood of changing the course of America in general. But real believers have a responsibility to avoid complicity with sin or even complacency about it. Whether or not we change the state of our nation, we must decry it. And we must personally stand for righteousness in the midst of a “perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32:5). We must not stand with self-righteousness, smugness, or contempt. We must not be cowed by the false charity that would suggest that the words of our text are unloving. We must speak the truth in love and refuse to accept the corrupting influences about us that threaten to sweep us away in a tide of sin and rebellion. We must stand for what is right, loving the Lord and His will more than our own comfort and convenience. We must love the truth. We must love God’s way more than our own. We are ambassadors from a heavenly country that is founded upon holiness and has as its object the glory of God. Isaiah’s words are old, not archaic. They are not merely ancient, they are eternal. God’s attitude toward sin has not changed over the centuries—nor should ours—because His opinion is right and will prevail.
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