And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
I grew up in the Bible Belt - that part of the country from Texas to the Virginias, sweeping through the southern part of our nation like a giant belt. It got this name because the culture of the region is heavily influenced by socially conservative Protestantism. According to one online source, "The Bible Belt refers to an area in the southeastern United States where Christianity is deeply embedded in everyday life” according to one online source. Although the term 'Bible Belt' specifically refers to religion, the term more generally references how Christianity affects the culture, education and politics of the region. Protestant sects of Christianity, such as Baptist, Pentecostal, and Methodist, are most associated with the region. The churches within the area are typically thought to practice fundamentalist Christianity, which involves strict social conservatism. Drinking, gambling, and abortion are a few of the items that are extremely frowned upon within communities in the Deep South" (wisegeek.com). Liberally-minded Americans say these are the bitter people who “cling to their Bibles and guns.” Such rhetoric is divisive and an inaccurate reflection of the region. Many who live in that region are common, everyday people who believe in God, work hard and are concerned about their personal responsibility toward God and their neighbors.
I have now lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost twenty years. Experience and observation leads me to the general observation that if the southern United States is the Bible Belt, then the Pacific Northwest southward to San Francisco and beyond can be called the “Humanist Belt.” Driven by the philosophy of humanism (man is the center of all things), much of the culture of this region thrives on social, political and religious liberalism toward just about anyone (except, of course, those who challenge and reject their tenets of liberalism). Those who hold faith in God are often marginalized as bigots, extremists and ignorant haters.
Of course, such attitudes are not limited to this part of the country. And, there are those who believe in God and moral values here as there are elsewhere. Still, the stark difference between the Bible Belt and the Humanist Belt is the refusal to acknowledge God at all. It is the rejection of God's presence, His power and His will in our lives. Many in the Humanist Belt simply "refuse to retain God in their knowledge" (Rom. 1:28).
As noted, the humanist culture is not isolated to the Pacific Northwest; it spreads throughout America. Humanism is choking out the moral and spiritual life of our nation. Here are some of the notable characteristics of humanism to be aware of and to steadfastly stand against.
1) Atheism: There is no God. Man is "the center of all things" to the humanist. Humanists reject the vast evidence of God's existence, and by doing show their foolishness (Psa. 14:1; Rom. 1:20-23; Acts 14:15-17).
2) No moral absolutes. Truth is relative in the Humanist Belt. Truth (if one can say there is such a thing at all) is culturally defined. The thought that the Bible could possibly hold the answer to mankind's existence and purpose is rejected out of hand. Because humanists deny the existence of God, the concept of a commanded moral code given by deity to humans is inconceivable. To them, any moral code that exists today did not exist yesterday and may not exist tomorrow - depending on the changing desires, expectations and experiences of humankind. This final ends in moral bankruptcy. Selfish indulgence and fleshly appetites pass for successful living and personal fulfillment. Drug and alcohol abuse become rampant, pornography is epidemic, and sexual immorality is considered normal - even celebrated (take for example, the entrenchment of the LGBT culture). "Incredibly, recent studies show that 67% of young men and 49% percent of young women consider viewing pornography to be acceptable behavior" ("Christian's Pornography Secret," Set Free Global Summit). The moral restraints of God's truth are cast off, bringing more enslavement to sin (2 Pet. 2:19).
3) Sanctioning of same-sex marriage. From the beginning of time and for thousands of years since, marriage has been between one man and one woman. All other forms given marriage are aberrant, deviating from this God-ordained standard. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall be one flesh" outlines the divine design and its historic arrangement (Gen. 2:24). Out of this one flesh relationship children are born (Gen. 4:1). Humanists say marriage was developed over time by people, therefore, it can be changed by people. The swift and dramatic shift in accepting homosexual marriage and the LGBT paradigm demonstrates just how thorough and deep the abandoning of moral principles has become in America. While humanists thrive in this perverted climate, that very lifestyle is toxic socially and spiritually, being both unnatural and vile in the sight of God: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:26-27). Redefining marriage does not make it so. The Bible continues to reveal truth concerning marriage, demanding our respect of this time-honored, God-given relationship (Heb. 13:4).
4) Abortion advocacy. Extinguishing innocent life in the womb is an atrocity that continues to haunt and hurt our nation (Prov. 14:34). Close to 60 million babies have been murdered in America since Roe v. Wade set the path for legalized abortion in 1973. A voice can be heard throughout America, "lamentation, weeping and great mourning" for the innocent ones (Matt. 2:18). Who weeps for the children? Not the humanist. They champion the freedom and "right" of the woman to abort at the expense of innocent life. Abortionists must deny the unborn the status of personhood, even as modern medical science makes more abundantly clear what Bible-believers have always known: the unborn are human beings. They are known by God (Psa. 139:13-16). Their life is precious, too.
5) Evolution: How we got here. Evolution is the religion of the humanist. Without it, his belief system crumbles. Humanists believe we are just more highly evolved, formed and functioning animals; nothing more. Yet, evolution does not and cannot explain the origin of all things. The Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Humanist says, "In the beginning matter already existed (just in a different form)." But, matter is not eternal; it decays over time (which is the very opposite of what we would expect from evolution). The First Cause of life is not inorganic matter spontaneously generating life. The Cause of all life is Almighty God (Acts 17:24).
Christians must engage the battle against humanism wherever we live. Thankfully, we do not fight humanism with manmade weapons. God's truth is mighty and able to defeat this foe of faith. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Our faith remains secure in God, unshaken by the protests of the faithless. Do not be deceived, for "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 Jno. 4:4).
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plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Whatever Happened to Sin? (Part 1)
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 18:4-9
1. Many people
do not understand or respect what the Bible says sin is and what it does.
They do not know the gospel that tells how to be saved from sin and how to
live without being ruled by it.
I. WHAT SIN IS.
the Mark of God's Revealed Will.
II. WHAT SIN DOES.
Spiritual Death, Gen. 2:17; Isa. 59:1-2 (Rom. 5:12); Eph. 2:1-2.
III. HOW SIN IS DEFEATED.
A. Sin is
Defeated at the Cross, Rom. 5:6-11. God's grace, Rom. 5:20-21.
Here we go again. Terrorism and its threat has been with us for a long time - long before 9/11 - and it continues to affect the world with death, fear and conflict. The bombings in Brussels, Belgium this week remind us there is a war afoot by radical Muslims (ISIS and their ilk) against the west. There appears to be an unwillingness on the part of some world leaders to acknowledge the real threat and nature of this war. Without that, the enemy will not be defeated. Reluctance to defeat the enemy is observable, witnessed by ignoring the root cause, redirecting people's attention and complicating the obvious. We hear cries of "peace, peace," but there is no peace.
There is a great spiritual battle raging that follows this same pattern of misdirection and denial when Christians are unwilling to engage the enemy. As an example, false teaching, idolatry and immorality were minimized by the prophets, priests and people of Judah when Jeremiah proclaimed, “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace" (Jer. 6:13-14). In similar fashion, when brethren wring their hands as if nothing can be done when sin exists among God's people, in effect they are saying, "peace, peace" when there is no peace.
There is no lasting cure for sin as long as it is ignored, excused and denied. Judah was punished because she would not repent and walk in the old paths of truth (Jer. 6:15-16). If we excuse, ignore and redefine sin we incur eternal punishment. True peace comes from God (Isa. 57:19; Rom. 5:1). Offering false peace emboldens our enemy and makes us comfortable with sin (Jer. 6:15).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/27/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA