Thursday, April 2, 2009


Our Second President, John Adams, said some two hundred years ago, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." If he were here today he might ask, "What part of ‘wholly inadequate’ did you not understand?

As our society spirals dangerously out of control in a moral free fall, righteous souls are vexed (2 Peter 2:8). I suppose its not bad to be vexed, but we ought not to be surprised. We’ve were warned ahead of time that things would work out this way. So wrote Paul about the last days: "In the last days difficult times will come" (2 Timothy 3:1). "The days are evil" he said (Ephesians 5:16). In this dispensation the church is set "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (Philippians 2:15).

At various times and in various places in the world there have been spiritual revivals. At other times and in other places there have been periods of great spiritual decline. Without a doubt the general inclination of man is towards sin and disbelief and immorality--so we ought not to be surprised as our society unravels.

Why is our constitution wholly inadequate for the governance of an irreligious people? What insight did John Adams have as to the nature of government and man that makes this so? He obviously had some insight into the truth of God’s Word. He knew, for example, that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). He knew that "There is none who does good, there is not even one" (Romans 3:12). He knew that man’s unbridled passions must be somehow bridled in order for any society to prosper. How can that be done?

Our constitution is unique in that it emphasizes both a limited role of government and a greater freedom for individuals. American has been unique in this social experiment. And it had flourished in it. Until now. The problem with having such a high degree of freedom is it only works when there is something or someone else that restrains the hearts of evil men. Since men are fundamentally sinners, and inclined to do evil, it is necessary that their propensity to do evil be restrained. The Holy Spirit has that role in the world today (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Because of His presence in the world, inasmuch as He indwells every believer, the world is better off now that it would otherwise be.

The Holy Spirit is the Restrainer. He convicts of sin, and righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). He causes people to be born again (John 3:8). He causes us to understand the truth of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:12). It is by Him that sin is put to death in our lives (Romans 8:13). It is by Him that we are transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). And by Him we bear His supernatural, God-honoring, relationship-building fruit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Born again people don’t need laws to restrain them, the Holy Spirit has exalted them to a higher plane of living. He constrains them to love. They are freed by His empowering presence to do that for which they were created--to love God by loving others. They are in fact the only people who are truly free. They are free indeed (John 8:36). Let us remind ourselves that true freedom is not the freedom to do whatever we want to do, but instead the freedom to do what we ought to do. Those who flew the jets into the World Trade Center were unrestrained from doing so by any earthly power, but they were hardly free in the truest sense of the term. They were in fact "held captive by him (the devil) to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:26).

For all of the talk about freedom in our society today we are in fact hopelessly enslaved. Our lusts have enslaved us. The current worldwide economic crisis can be traced back to a greed and lust to have more. Casinos, lottery ticket sales, malicious internet schemes, all speak to this lust. Our enslavement to drugs and alcohol costs society untold billions of dollars in healthcare costs and disabled workers and broken marriages. The current border war amongst Mexican authorities and drug lords can be traced to our societies lust for illegal drugs. The lust for sex has captivated our society. TV shows and movies are all about sex. In 2006 the pornography industry generated 13 billion dollars. Violence is everywhere. You cannot turn on the news without hearing some new bizarre story. Yesterday it was a man who took his young daughter on a robbery with him. Recently it was the story of a murder in Vancouver of a young teen girl who was walking home by a sex offender who lived in the area. And then there was the story of a woman in Portland who lied to the police about her Husband’s death. Ultimately they found his remains cut up and buried in their back yard. School shootings are routine. Horrific unconscionable acts of violence are commonplace. After a recent deadly shooting in Portland the Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer said "This seems at first blush to be a random act of violence of the kind that makes you despair for America."

I am an American citizen and I do despair for America. Proverbs 14:34 says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." What is happening in our nation today is disgraceful. And we ought to despair. We are witnessing the death of America. But then again our true citizenship transcends this earthly one. And that is where our hope lies. Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that he has even to subject all things to Himself."

My hope lies not in the future of America, but in God’s purpose for me. It is in Jesus Christ. I remember watching a video years ago, entitled, "Where is America in Biblical Prophecy?" That question is worth considering. How could the world’s lone superpower somehow be so diminished in influence and power that it is not spoken of in prophecy? The only answer must be that by the time those events come to pass it is no longer a superpower. And now that is easier to see.

What is hard to accept in all of this is to see the death of something that had been such a source of good in the world, the death of something for which men gave their lives, the death of something that you love. When its death becomes certain some may argue as to its cause of death. Politicians will blame each other. Citizens will blame politicians. But the cause of death will be the same old cause of death that is at the source of all death--sin. On the certificate of death, under cause, it might as well be written: unbridled lusts.

If you are looking for an accomplice in the murder of our great country you need look no further than the church. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If the salt is no longer salty and if the light is no longer bright--then the world is left rotting and dark, and that it what it is today. I fear that mere religion took the place of genuine renewal in the hearts of many decades ago. Mere religion is no substitute for the abiding Christ when it comes to influencing others for good.

What are we to do? With regards to our country--that’s up to God to decide. That’s in His hands. But we’ve been warned in a general sense as to what is going to happen. The ship of humanity is headed on a collision course with God’s destiny. Its going to hit an iceberg and sink. And those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ will be rescued--ahead of time. Those who have not will face a certain and eternal judgment (2 Peter 2:9).

With regards to the church--that’s a different matter. Its time for the church to get serious about what its doing. God’s Word exhorts us, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16). Bad days make for opportune times. Lets make the most of them.

Pastor Jerry

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