The Evil Day in which We Live
By Al Stoner
“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come” (Isa. 57:1). “Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (Isa. 59:15).
To anyone today with enough courage to speak a word in behalf of the LORD and His Christ, the increasingly common response of those of this wicked generation is that which was summarized by the Prophet Isaiah: “Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Isa. 30:11). Jesus said, on the eve of His betrayal and crucifixion, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you” (Jn. 15:18). And John, echoing the words of the Master, wrote, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I Jn. 3:13). Those who are in Christ are not to be seeking the world’s hatred as proof of their association with Him. Rather, all who are faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ will eventually find themselves becoming the objects of the world’s scorn and hatred, because they belong to Christ.
The love for righteousness and the hatred of iniquity are at the very center and core of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, because of who Christ is in His essential Person. He uncompromisingly loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and those whom He is reconciling to God have, in their measure, the same mind that He does with regard to good and evil. Therefore, marvel not, if the world hate you. (Any purported “christ” that minimizes the issues pertaining to righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil, is a false christ.)
Evil Men are Waxing Worse and Worse. “The Psalmist lamented, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree” (Ps. 37:35). This is an exceedingly grievous phenomenon that is witnessed in every generation, except where the grace of God has taken hold of men, and turned them from darkness unto light, setting them on the upward pathway to glory.
Spreading himself like a green bay tree. Like a tree planted in its native soil. The wicked, in their brazen disregard for, and hatred of, the LORD, and His Christ, often seek to extend their evil influence over other men while they are here in the shortened time alloted to them. But let righeous men and women take heart and be of good courage. The meek shall indeed inherit the earth. And of the poor in spirit, and to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, the blessed Savior made this pronouncement: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Let the righteous take courage, knowing that “the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment” (Job 20:5).
Men Declaring their Sin as Sodom. The indictment brought by the Lord against Jerusalem, and Judah, in Isaiah’s day is equally applicable to today’s evil generation. “The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves” (Isa. 3:9; see Gen. 19:1-29). The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are indelibly associated with base lewdness that is shamefully loathesome to speak about. “It is a shame to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Eph. 5:12).
Perilous Times are Now Upon Us. The assaults against those “which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17) are multilayered and multifaceted. Some are deceptive and underhanded, while others are straightforward in their intent. But all are proceeding from “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).
Some Current Day Examples of this Peril. The present day phenomenon of evil men seeking legal acceptance among fellow men, with all the rights and privilege associated therewith, is a jeopardy to good men, and particularly to those who are living by faith in Christ. Wherever “mischief” or wickedness becomes framed by the laws of the land (see Ps. 94:20), this creates a circumstance of trial and proving for those who “will live godly in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:12). The law, which they once considered to be protecting them, has now, in many instances, become contrary to everything that they have believed and stood for. Laws written by men in the present day are seeking to redefine what is morally right and wrong, even to the point of legalizing that which is against nature, and contrary to nature: yes, even legalizing that which at one time was universally regarding as criminal, and against the law.
There are also assaults against those professing faith in Christ which are very apparent. In many parts of the world those professing faith in Jesus are being persecuted, even mercilessly put to death, simply because of their faith in Jesus. This past week in Kenya at least 147 people, mostly university students, were executed because of their faith in Christ. Their murderers asked them, “Are you a Christian?” If they answered “yes”, they were put to death. If they said they were Muslim, they were let go.
The Church, the Pillar and the Ground of the Truth. The church (that the Scripture speaks of) is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). We are speaking here of the truth of God, truth that is the faithful representation of all things, and the truth, which gives expression to God’s eternal purpose in Christ. The truth faithfully represents the things which God loves, and the things that He hates. The world is certainly not that pillar, but rather is bereft of the truth, except where God has left an indelible witness. If the world is going to hear the truth, it must hear it from the church.
Whevever “the truth of Christ” (II Cor. 11:10) is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, methinks, that shockwaves reverberate throughout the kingdom of darkness, putting them in mind once again that they have but a short time. When the Savior was yet here in the world “in the days of His flesh”, it will be recalled that the demons “cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Mt. 8:28-29).
Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is the embodiment of the truth (cf. Jn. 14:6), men have no moral compass with which to navigate safely through this present evil world. The real issues of life have not to do with wealth or poverty, sickness or health, education or lack of education, but rather they have to do with “good and evil” (Heb. 5:14), and particularly, with acceptance with God through the means which He Himself has provided in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The real issues were well expressed by John Wesley, when he said, “This one thing would I know: how to get to heaven, and how to make it safely to that happy shore.” --Editor