I wonder sometimes if we, as Christians, truly grasp what happens to the human mind that is captivated by sin. I think, theologically, we can speak true things about what it looks like when a person is dead in sin or is following the world, the flesh, and the devil. But, when we think of the world and its practices, I wonder if we really get it.
Consider some of the pet sins of our culture. I’ll not need to name them at this point, as you know if you are paying any attention. Have you noticed how, in our culture, there has been a pattern of acceptance of these sins? Years ago, they were sins that were abhorred by faithful folks. Then, though the sins were abhorred in general, we began to accept their presence. Then, acceptance led to normalization. We began to act as though certain sins were just part of the world we live in. WE began to act as though our best move would be to remain quiet, as culture around us was beginning to accept such practices. And then, before we know it, things that once were abhorred are now applauded and celebrated. Now, all who do not celebrate sins once abhorred are the ones despised by the culture.
That pattern, from abhorrence to applause, is only part of the problem. The other part of the problem is in the local church itself. You see, we want to be loved by the world. Thus, if we are not careful, we begin to compromise on things that the Lord has commanded. We become ashamed of the word of God because we do not want to be social outcasts. Perhaps we hide the word of God because we do not want the world around us to look down on us.
If you look at the words of Jesus, none of this should be a surprise.
John 16:1–4a – 1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
Jesus warned his disciples of hard times to come. He warned them of persecution. Jesus wanted them to understand that the persecution they face is not something he did not see coming.
But take particular note of the attitude of the persecutors. Jesus said that people would be killing Christians, and they would be convinced that they were doing a service to God when they would do so. That is the point that got my attention. It speaks not only to the sin, but to the mindset of those who will come and persecute Christ’s followers.
What I want us to grasp is that this mindset, this thinking that leads to persecution, this darkened thinking is utterly warped and inside-out and upside-down. Jesus warned that men would do that which is as evil a thing as possible, kill servants of the Lord, and they will think, not that they are doing evil, but that they are serving the very God they are attacking. This shows us what sin does to the human mind.
Dear friends, if we are not completely saturated with the word of God, we will let inside-out and upside-down thinking permeate our lives. It is surprisingly easy for Christians to learn to accept what God calls abomination. It is surprisingly easy for Christians to turn what God forbids into something that religious people celebrate. It is surprisingly easy to stop seeing evil as evil.
May we be a people who are biblically minded in all things. May we love the word. May we not allow the world to shape our thinking. May we battle with all our might against the sin that would deceive us into doing that which dishonors God and thinking it to be worship. May we be willing to stand in the face of hardships, knowing that our Savior promised that this world would be hard. May we live for the glory of our God even in a dark world, because we know that the Spirit of God is with us and the Savior we love will return and rule forever.