The Importance of Confession

How easily we can camouflage pseudo-spirituality and religious pretenses with religious activities and rhetoric. We can fool others, and astonishingly, we can even deceive ourselves! But we cannot fool or pull one over on God, the omniscient One. We can twist God’s Word in a way to fool ourselves and others, but this is only to our own harm. Truth remains truth regardless of twisting, rhetoric, or smoke and mirrors. 

The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins,” (7:20). We can (and do) go around patting ourselves on the backs, thinking, “You’re okay and I’m okay.” But the truth of the matter is we’re not always okay. If we’re not careful, we can ignore the flowerbeds of our hearts and allow the weeds of anger, pride, lust, covetousness, worry, and the like to take root and begin choking the flowers of virtue and grace. We can begin to deny God’s perspective on attitudes and behaviors He declares  as sin. We can erect various forms of idolatry in our lives and churches and truly believe everything is alright when everything is all wrong.

Sin is never neutral. Even if a person is truly redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, sin still has consequences. And the more one ignores and dismisses the warnings of God’s Word, faithful believers, and the convictions of the Holy Spirit, the more severe the consequences will be.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. ~ 1 John 1:5-6

God is light. There is no darkness—not even shadows—in Him. He is completely holy, Truth to the utmost absolute, and pure in the highest caliber. We, on the other hand, are not. And while God, indeed, is very lovingly long suffering with us, He does not at all condone our walking and wallowing in sin like kids jumping in puddles and pigs rolling in mire. What we sometimes fail to understand is when we try to harbor our sins we begin to walk in darkness. The longer we are in darkness, the further we can stray from the Lord and lose our way. This, in turn, causes us to become more vulnerable to other deceptions and various forms of bondage (even religious kinds).

We read a truth in the Old Testament that remains true in the lives of true believers:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. ~ Isaiah 59:1-3

In Christ, the issue is not whether one can be forgiven, because all sin is forgivable through Him. Rather, are we willing to let His light expose our sins, and are we willing to agree with Him for what He says about them? Our sins do disrupt our fellowship with Him. And Jesus says of those who reject Him and the reason they stand condemned:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. ~ John 3:19-20

For God’s people, in the midst of our struggle with sin, the apostle writes,

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 8-9

The word confess doesn’t simply mean to admit. Rather, it’s taken from the Greek word, homoiogeo, which means to agree and consent to. Thus, confession has to do with agreeing with God concerning the way He sees our thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and motives, then changing these accordingly.

Today, we are in dire need to confess—to agree, to consent—with God and His perception on things. It is easy to look at the world and see what a mess it’s in; however, as Christians we can be ever so guilty of wanting to take the specks out of unbelievers’ eyes, while being oblivious to the forests in our own. The church in the West (especially in the United States) harbors all kinds of pride, anger, envy, and partialities. We’ve allowed all kinds of “back talking” and casting doubt on God’s Word—even in many of our seminaries. Furthermore, we’ve erected all kinds of idols (especially in the areas of entertainment and comfortable living) in our hearts and churches. 

How can we see if we are walking and stumbling in darkness? How can we really be walking with God if we are not willing to agree and consent to what He says about things? An essential part of prayer is asking the Lord to reveal sin in our lives. The psalmist writes,

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! ~ Psalm 139:24-24

This, my friend, is a continual and life long endeavor. But we are promised that as we do, God is both faithful and just to not only forgive us of sin but to also cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

The Prayers of the Righteous 

“Prayer accomplishes nothing,” says the naysayer, “I prayed about _____, and nothing happened!” Part of the problem with such thinking has to do with the misperception of God. God is not anyone’s genie or a cosmic vending machine. God is our Creator and owes us nothing. We are to serve Him, not vice versa. 

However, there is something else to consider. James tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (5:16). Earlier, he writes, 

You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ~ James 4:2-3

According to James, prayer is neither powerless nor the problem. He says the prayers of the righteous person has great power, and we receive not because we ask according to our own will and desires rather than according to God’s will and wisdom.

According to Noah Webster, 1828 version, righteous means, “Just; accordant to the divine law … it denotes one who is holy in heart, and observant of the divine commands in practice.” Character, integrity, and virtue all matter to God. The prayers of those who are righteous are powerful, not the prayers of those who are haughty, shrewd, deceitful, immoral, or unbelieving. Understand, this doesn’t mean God will answer prayers according to a righteous person’s desires simply because he or she is righteous. Paul the apostle notes,

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Still, when persons want to dismiss prayer as a waste of time, we must consider the issue of character. When God denies our requests, do we have the right to be angry and to accuse prayer as being meaningless? Could it be that we are both the problem and the hindrance? Can we say with complete honesty, in accordance with the truth, that we are righteous, just, and holy in heart? If our answer is “No,” then we reveal that the problem is, indeed, us and not prayer.

Both as Christians and as churches,  if our prayers seem to be ineffective and go no where, then we should examine ourselves. How might we be living unrighteously? How might we be asking according to our desires while dismissing God’s will and wisdom?

Prayer is not powerful and effective simply because it is uttered, or even because it is spoken in God’s name. Prayer is powerful when it is spoken from one who is righteous and when God’s glory is kept in view. If you see prayer as futile, know that prayer is not the problem. Rather, the real problem is the unrighteousness being harbored within your heart.

Biblical Words We Must Not Disregard 

We love words like grace and justification, although these reveal it’s all God’s work. So why are we afraid of words like predestination and election? After all, we’re told,

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself. ~ Ephesians 1:4-5

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. ~ Romans 8:33

Take the time to consider these seven things:

1) We are finite creatures considering the works of an infinite God. Why should we be surprised we don’t comprehend such concepts?

2) God is complete and perfect in His holiness, love, justice, goodness, and mercy. None of these attributes betray the others when God does what He does. We might not understand, but we must remember point number one. To accuse God of being unjust is an astounding thing, considering none of us is the poster child of justice (Romans 3:10-18).

3) To dismiss or deny these words and concepts is to be unfaithful to the sacred texts (these are difficult to miss in Ephesians 1). What an astounding thing to dismiss, and in some cases to abhor, God’s revelation. We’re moved when we hear, “I have loved you, and you are saved entirely by My grace.” But then are bewildered when we hear, “I have chosen you and predestined you before the foundation of the world.”

4) These concepts were not meant to divide God’s people but to bring comfort to believers who were facing very real trials and persecution. Why are we not comforted by them?

5) Were it not for His election and predestination none of us would be saved, because none of us seek God on our own accord.

6) Predestination does not nullify God’s invitation for all to come to Him. Just because we don’t understand how these tie together in unity doesn’t make them less true. Again, we are finite.

7) That God would bother saving the likes of you or me should blow our minds and fill us with overwhelming gratitude. Grace means to receive what we don’t deserve (mercy, salvation), and it is the gift of God not by works. So what’s the problem with predestination and election, again?

What does all this have to do with prayer? First, if you are born again, this should fill your heart with utmost gratitude. Salvation always begins with God taking the initiative. If we love Him, then it’s only because He first loved us (1 John 4:10, 19). Second, it should motivate the child of God to want to talk with Him, because He wants to hear from you and me.

Let’s neither be afraid nor dismayed by these words and concepts. And certainly let us not be unfaithful to Sacred Text. They come from the all-wise One to the unwise, the Infinite to the finite, and the Just to the unjust. It shouldn’t surprise us that we don’t fully comprehend these great truths (far lesser things boggle our minds). What should surprise us is that we were were on His mind and in His heart before the foundation of the world.

A Timely, Although Obscure, N.T. Verse

If you’ve read the entire New Testament, then you’ve read this verse. However, I bet it’s not one you were determined to commit to memory. And unless you sit under a pastor who has preached expository sermons through this epistle, I think I can can say with 99.9% accuracy that you’ve never heard a sermon on it or read a book devoted to it. This timely verse is sorely neglected, and our negligence is not inconsequential.

While the verse itself isn’t all that strange (you can find its message echoing throughout the Scriptures), it seems strange because of the way it ends an epistle abruptly. For at the end of John’s first letter, he writes, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). There’s no benediction, goodbye, or “Sincerely, John.” Just “keep yourselves from idols.”

Whenever Evangelicals think of idols, we tend to think of the statues we might see in Hindu temples, Roman Catholic churches, or the little Buddhas we see in someone’s garden; however, idolatry goes much deeper than that. Furthermore, idolatry is something we all must guard against and flee from. As one theologian has observed, the human heart is like its own idol factory. And A. W. Tozer, in his book, Knowledge of the Holy, notes how idols are not simply objects people bow down to worship, but idolatry includes even the notions of God that are not in line with the truth of who He is. So, an idol is any object, thought, feeling, idea, etc. in which we harbor and place above God or of which we substitute Him for to find our pleasure, meaning, purpose, or identity.

Ours is certainly a hedonistic, idolatrous society, and these have certainly been carried into churches. I’m reminded of this every year at this time when churches restructure their evening services for Super Bowl Sunday, just to watch a stupid ball thrown around. I’m reminded of this when I’ve seen Hillsong videos where they’ve introduced goddess worship (this is not at all subtle in one of their recorded concerts). But I also want to add the quests for the supernatural phenomenon (e.g, “gold dust,” tongues, warm fuzzies, hype, etc.). Understand, I don’t deny authentic miracles and spiritual gifts exist. But I am saying we, as human beings, are prone to make such things—especially experiences—into idols (and as a godly man I know had taught, if you want an experience, Satan will give you an experience). The same thing with “blessings” (e.g., money, a dream come true [a signed contract], a large congregation, etc.). I think one form of idolatry so prevalent in our day is the love for the blessing rather than the love for the Blesser. 

Regardless whatever we might turn into an idol, their works will always pollute devotion and worship of God. Idols will always begin steering one’s heart from the Scriptures and bringing it into question. Idols will always help us find justifications as to why we can place them beside the throne of God and deceive us into thinking our hearts can be divided and still be wholeheartedly devoted to God. Our idols will tempt us to curse our Redeemer if we are not given our “fixes” of our desired blessings. Idols distort our thinking of God and sound theology (the “prosperity gospel” teachers are a case in point).

Idols divide our hearts and seek to be divine substitutes. And when God doesn’t give us what our idols give, we begin questioning Him and even doubting Him. We’ll even begin accusing true worshipers of God who are sent to warn us.

The true God isn’t one of our own making. He is what He is, whether we like Him or not. Indeed, He is merciful and kind, but He is also holy, holy, holy. His richest of blessings is not the things of earth but Himself. This isn’t so much in the hype and hoopla, but in His peace. You and I both wrestle with idolatry. We must continually have the Holy Spirit’s help in smashing them and giving us discernment.

Just because something is miraculous, supernatural, or gives us warm sensations, or grants us monetary prosperity doesn’t mean it’s of God. Make no mistake, the evil one can market counterfeits. We must continually test the spirits (1 John 4:1-2). How are we viewing the Scriptures, God’s Word? How are we viewing Jesus Christ and His atonement? And are we willing to shuffle the things of God to make room for idols (this requires real examining). 

Our idols might appear to give us our temporary pleasures and experiences, but they will rob us of the peace, joy, security, and divine presence only the true God can give.

New Book: “Pause, Hear His Whisper” Now Released

I’m excited to let you know my new book, Pause, Hear His Whisper, published through Covenant Books, is now released. Our world is filled with busy-ness and constant distractions. Pause, Hear His Whisper is a call to take needed pauses, and contains 150 devotions/meditations, rich with Scripture, to help Christians remain rooted in the faith. In the back are 5 articles on biblical meditation, prayer, the Scriptures, grace, and What is Christianity?

The book is available in paperback and electronic formats, and can be purchased through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Apple, and most Christian book retailers.

Do We Really Pray for God’s Holiness and Will?

While teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus begins by telling them, “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Do we, today, truly pray for these? Oh sure, with our mouths we do, but do we pray for these from the depths of our hearts? You might be convinced we do, but I’m not so certain.

To “hallow” means to honor as holy, to set apart, and to revere. It’s to set Him as the supreme focus, and to not treat His name or presence flippantly. For His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven would require persons to genuinely be focused on Him and what pleases Him. It would require for us to surrender to Him as the Sovereign, taking ourselves, our desires, and our preferences out of the equation. 

But is God truly hallowed among us when we are so concerned and distracted by the things of this world; when the music is more about the production, the delivery, and often about us; and when God must share the spotlight with Super Bowl Sunday?

Concerning His will, what if His will is green carpet rather than blue? What if He desires an organ rather than a band or vice versa. What if His will means for us to be poor or to suffer? What if He desires for you or I to be a missionary to Africa or to teach a class in the slums? How can His will be done on earth as it is in heaven when so many in churches are arguing why God says some things are considered sin and casting doubt on His Word (which explains His will)? How can His will be done when, too often, we’re more concerned about offending others than we are about offending God? Or if we’re more concerned about growing churches numerically that we’ll dilute the teachings, rather than grow the faithful in authentic godliness?

The only way we’ll sincerely pray for God and His name to be hallowed and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is if we get serious about God and our faith in Him. But the only way this will happen is if we are willing to confess our religious shallowness, insincerity, and hypocrisy, and ask for renewal of our hearts and spirits. And this must, for each of us, begin with ourselves.

Does God Really Equip the Called?

It is common for preachers and laity alike to say, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called!”  Although we hear such things, this is not really the consensus. Most, I dare say, do not really believe this. Think about it, many churches will not even consider a person for a pastoral or staff position if one does not have the minimum of a master of divinity degree. Many would not take the time to read a theology book by someone who is not a seminary professor or have a doctorate degree. And many Christian organizations won’t consider persons with less than a master’s degree. Sadly, degrees neither prove a person is qualified, biblical, or filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, a person can have the required biblical knowledge and filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, yet not possess a degree of any kind. Check out what the Scriptures say,

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. ~ Acts 4:13-14

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. ~ Acts 6:3

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. ~ 1 Timothy 3:1-7

Take note in each of these passages. Where was the source of power and what were the requirements of the leaders? The source of power was from time with Jesus and the being filled with His Holy Spirit. And this was in the lives of some described as uneducated and common. Mind you, this doesn’t mean they were stupid, but a degree is not what made them effective. And when we look at actual biblical requirements, where does one see anything about education or degrees? 

One of the things that drives me crazy about the denomination I’m affiliated with is the leaders will say, “We’re a people of the Book!” Yet, they add human requirements for persons to be leaders, pastors, missionaries, etc., which often supersede the requirements of “the Book. (e.g., one needs a degree, fit a certain image, etc.).

So many people talk about wanting to be a “New Testament” church. Now, all one has to do is consider the believers in Corinth and Galatia to realize the early church had its share of problems. However, there is a lot lacking in the modern, sophisticated church. Today, where is the power, unction, boldness, and the plain evidence—“they had been with Jesus”?

I believe many people are passed over in churches and organizations—persons who are filled with the Holy Spirit, who’ve been with Jesus, and fulfill the biblical requirements—because they have not earned a degree. They love God, love people, have a good reputation, and are capable teachers of the things of God, but they don’t possess a degree.

Think about this, most of the great persons of God in the Scriptures, the prophets, and the apostles would not be church leaders or pastors in today’s churches, despite their caliber. Ironically, many today have the degrees and “experience” but not the caliber. Will the church today truly get back to the place it needs to be: being immersed in prayer, the Scriptures, and being filled with the Spirit of God?

First Baptist Church of La-Z-Boy

One of the results of Covid is the revealing of many people’s ignorance of the Christian faith and its relation to the church. For all who profess to be Christians, and despite any criticism (sometimes justifiable) of churches, we must remember that the church is Christ’s idea. Let me say that again. The church is Christ’s idea. 

“I don’t need to go to church to be saved,” some say. Perhaps not, but what makes you think you’re saved if you reject the very idea and structure of the One you profess to be Savior and Lord? “You’re adding works to salvation,” someone will accuse. No, I’m saying you’re dismissing the very idea and structure Jesus established. “Well, I don’t need to go to church to worship God,” many say. Well, just because you profess to worship doesn’t mean you do, nor does it mean it’s acceptable to God. The Scriptures reveal numerous times when God rejected people’s worship. The writer of Hebrews admonishes,

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25

“Well, I’m fed by Pastor Stanley [or Jeremiah, etc.].” Perhaps, but church is not simply about you. The church is a body where every member has value and is needed (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). There are persons in the church you are to interact with, to encourage, to exhort, to hug, to pray for. It is difficult to be involved (as we’re commanded to be) sitting in a recliner or laying in bed.

No where in the New Testament are followers of Jesus Christ called to be Lone Rangers. First Baptist Church of La-Z-Boy, St. Paul of King Size Bed, and Holy Trinity Breakfast Church are not legitimate churches. It is one thing to truly be shut in and bedridden, but it is quite another to dismiss church and the support thereof simply out of “convenience.” God calls us to love and serve one another. There’s nothing “convenient” about this. Church is more than simply going to sing some songs and hearing a message. Church is a living organism made up of individuals who minister to one another and to be involved together in the Great Commission of our Lord.

If you’re choosing to stay home from church when you are quite capable of going, you can use whatever excuse you want. But you fail to understand the very faith in which you profess. The Christian faith is not an isolated or “private” faith, but one of community. You do need church and the church needs you.

Behind Enemy Lines

Prayer is such a mysterious thing. God is Sovereign, His purposes will be accomplished, and His will cannot be thwarted; however, He has purposed that some things will either happen or not happen—depending on the prayers of His people. 

In prayer, because of the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, God’s people appear to simply pray wherever they are praying at the moment. However, they are also in the very presence of God before His throne of grace (Hebrews  4:16; 10:19-22). 

Strangely, like the stealth of Navy SEALs, our prayers also enter behind enemy lines where the works of God are not noticed by us, but are active nevertheless. While our prayers in no way force God’s hand to do anything, and neither is God dependent on our prayers in any way, somehow our prayers play a vital role in people’s deliverances, the breaking of strongholds, the infusion of God’s power, protection of God’s people, etc.

Our prayers truly matter. This truth is sorely neglected, forgotten, and misunderstood in many of our Evangelical churches. In the book of Daniel, we get a rare glimpse of the spiritual reality that goes on behind the scenes where human eyes cannot see. In chapter 10, Daniel (who had been praying and fasting for three weeks was visited by an angelic being. The prophet is told,

Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come. ~ Daniel 10:13-14

How have we gotten to the point where we have such audacious arrogance to think spiritual battles are won and the kingdom is advanced simply by our preaching, programs, and church attendance? How have we become so lazy and unbelieving when it comes to prayer that churches have nearly jettisoned prayer meetings, and the average Christian spends less than two minutes in prayer? Will our Bible studies bring revival? Will our church programs break the strongholds and addictions holding people captive? Will our Christian concerts bring the protection and comfort needed by those suffering around the world? These, apart from prayer, will accomplish very little, if anything at all. We must pray! If we truly want to see captives set free behind enemy lines, then we must pray. To simply say we entrust everything to God’s sovereignty is to offer an invalid excuse not to pray; furthermore, to spurn all God’s commands and instructions to pray. The darkness will only grow stronger as God’s people refuse to pray.

Prepare for Battle

Our nation is in serious trouble. The fact of the matter, if you read the first chapter of Romans, our nation is experiencing the judgment of God. While writing of the rebellious nature of man in general, the apostle writes,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth….For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. ~ Romans 1:18, 21-22

History bears witness to this. Anywhere Christianity has taken root, positive changes happened in societies (e.g., the value of children and women, the abolishing of slavery, healthcare, etc.). Opponents will say things like, what about the Crusades, etc. But we must understand the reality of the sinful heart of unregenerate men. As for the Crusades, Roman Catholicism is known for many corrupt popes, cardinals, and priests who were obviously not born again. Many of the Crusaders, too, were worthless men who loved violence and conquest. Corrupt men using religion to camouflage their wickedness is nothing new. We read about it in both the Old and New Testaments (e.g., the Pharisees and Sadducees). And we see it today in politics and in churches promoting the false prosperity gospel. Nevertheless, wherever a people are truly yielded to the authority of Jesus Christ and the Scriptures, these communities develop stability, as well as goodwill toward others. (For further study on the positive impact Christianity has had on the world, read How Christianity Changed the World, by Alvin J. Schmidt).

We also see the evidence of what Paul writes even in our own nation. Despite the good Christianity has done, godless men in our government, universities, and corporations seek to destroy such evidence by rewriting history, grossly editing original manuscripts, removing statues, etc. And what are many trying to replace all this with? Many of these men, with all their prestige, credentials, and forked-tongue rhetoric are promoting Marxism (socialism/Communism), which history repeatedly shows it strips people of dignity and value, and is known for its cruelty, violence, and genocides. They claim to be wise—far wiser than the ignorant masses—they have become futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts are horrifically darkened. They continually promise a golden age of utopia—without God—but all they will deliver is misery for the populace.

Further down, the apostle writes,

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. ~ Romans 1:24-25

Immorality, infidelity, and perversion have always found safe harbor in the hearts of godless individuals. So yes, there has always been cases of adultery, child molestation, and the like. Nevertheless, even in our nation, these were once considered taboo. Pregnancy out of wedlock and divorce were once shameful. Then came Hollywood with all its productions and godless promotions, increasingly stirring the lusts within people. During the 60’s came the “sexual revolution.” A generation no longer wanted the constraints of godly living. So, God gave them over to what their foolish hearts desired.

But the depravity of the sinful heart is like the grave and is never satisfied. The apostle writes,

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their woman exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another. ~ Romans 1:26-27

During the 70’s and 80’s there became a push from Hollywood and universities to legitimize homosexual behavior. Today, not only is this behavior staunchly defended in Hollywood and Washington, but even many churches professing to be ambassadors of Christ. And there is a growing persecution (as evidenced in Canada) against those who would stand against the authority’s acceptance of this lifestyle. Nevertheless, we cannot nullify what God’s Word says, regardless of what side one chooses to stand.

The apostle then delves into the third wave of God’s judgment on a people.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. ~ Romans 1:28-31

Our society laments the violence in our city streets, poverty, broken homes, and threats of terrorist attacks. Yet, it is offended when the name of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, or the Ten Commandments are displayed. Our schools fully embrace evolution and deny any Intelligent Design (let alone the Creator as declared by Christians). Lascivious and blasphemous celebrities are idolized, while manipulative and corrupt politicians are applauded. Child-molesters are being defended by those claiming their desires are legitimate. Abortion is defended, even applauded, by many, despite the fact footage shows the real brutality which takes place, as babies’ body parts are ripped apart. Planned Parenthood, which claims to be “non-profit,” is somehow a multi-billion-dollar industry. And speaking of multi-billion-dollar industries, let us not forget to mention the tragic reality of human trafficking—a modern slave trade supported by many of our celebrities, politicians, and businessmen. This is the reality of societies without God. Utopia is the myth believed by fools.

It is strange that so many are looking to politicians to fix the problems when they, and their policies and exchanging of money “under the table,” are a vital part of the problems. Understand, this isn’t to casually dismiss the voting process. Citizens must be wise in who they vote for. But what good is this if the citizens are unwise and godless? The church must understand the issues go deeper than politics. Far deeper. If there is to be any hope for our nation, then God’s people must pray. This means seeking His face, as well as confessing the sins of our nation—as well as our own (see Nehemiah 1:6-7). But it also means preparing for spiritual war. The apostle writes in the sixth chapter of Ephesians,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:10-12

While we are responsible for the choices we make, and societies are responsible for the ideologies and beliefs they hold to, there is the reality of evil demonic beings influencing the events of our world. Have you ever wondered why universities, politics, Hollywood, Communism, Islam, New Age Occultism, etc., are hostile toward Christianity specifically and directly? In any case, while not dismissing the wickedness of people, our real enemies are not the people but the demonic forces influencing them. Sadly, many churches are not only standing alongside the wicked, but many are just as influenced by the spiritual forces of darkness. Why else would the Cross and Blood of Jesus Christ be deemphasized in some churches—even despised? And too often Christians are so busy warring against one another, completely oblivious to the fact the real enemies are unseen and working behind the scenes, not only in the world, but in our associations, conventions, seminaries, etc.

The apostle goes on to write to followers of Christ,

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. ~ Ephesians 6:13-18

The real battle does not take place on the streets of Washington, but on our knees in prayer. But we must have the complete armor on. We have a worthy adversary. Some don’t like it when I use the term “worthy,” thinking I mean he is worthy of some sort of praise. Still, others boast of the Victory we have in Christ, and mock the adversary as being a “toothless tiger.” But let us understand, while we are not told to be afraid of him, we are certainly to be aware of him. He is extremely crafty and manipulative. He knows our weaknesses quite well. In fact, Jesus tells us to pray for God’s deliverance from temptation and evil (Matthew 6:7). Peter warns us of the devil, who is like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Again, we don’t need to be afraid, but we must be aware, and we must be willing to battle in prayer with complete dependence on God. We must be girded with truth. As Neil Anderson writes in The Bondage Breaker, the power of the devil is in the lie. We must conquer using God’s truth. We must be covered and protected with righteousness. Unrighteousness will only play right into the enemy’s hands to his advantage. We must have the shoes on, firmly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The evil one is a fighter, and he will unleash lies and persecution against us. Whether through other people or whispers to our mind. We must lift our shield of faith in resistance to these fiery arrows. With this, we need to protect our minds with the helmet of salvation. Always remembering what Christ has done for us. We are saved by His grace and sacrifice, and not of our own works. And our weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, the Bible. Too often, people want to use the ideologies and trends of men, but these are like J. R. R. Tolkens’ golden rings described in his masterpiece, Lord of the Rings. These are crafted by evil, benefit evil, and enslave to evil. Our only true weapon is the Word of God in against the spiritual forces of evil. Lastly, we must be in constant prayer in the Spirit, in accordance with God’s will and ways, and praying for all fellow followers of Christ.

My friends, if there is any hope whatsoever for America, it will only come because of God’s mercy and power in response to the sincere prayers of His people. Only if we are willing to prepare for, and engage in, battle in prayer will be see hope and healing for our nation and world. But the question is, will we prepare for battle in the heavenlies?