False Ideas of Right and Wrong

A false as notion as to what is right and wrong may incite a person’s passion, leading to rebellion and even violence.

Education and circumstances may corrupt judgment.  A false as notion as to what is right and wrong may incite a person’s passion, leading to rebellion and even violence. [Witness Islamic fundamentalism – Sosthanes.]

Based on a passage in on J. N. Darby: ‘Conscience’ – Notes and Comments Vol. 1, p 104

See also

Sosthenes

Praying for our Leaders – Mrs Theresa May as new British Prime Minister

, ‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:1-4).

In July 2016 our country, the United Kingdom, had a new government.  There were also terrorist atrocities in France and Germany, and an attempted coup in Turkey. With the Islamist president and government there, things do not bode well for Christians in that country.  But this we can leave with God.  There was also a political party conference in the USA with the Christian runner-up, clearly out-of-tune with the powerful billionaire who is bidding to be the next president.

There were also meetings of the Church of England Synod, the Canadian church, the Methodists and the United Reformed Church, all of which have been pointing towards rejection of the Word of God and accepting of ‘same-sex’ marriage.

Indeed as lovers of the Lord Jesus, who will yet reign in righteousness, we can be restful.  I was talking to a brother the other day.  He has a high powered job bringing him into contact with chief executives of leading companies.  He told me that there was a state of panic amongst many top people on 24 June, the day after the Brexit referendum.  As the result was not what they were expecting: it seemed as if they were anchorless and rudderless.  It gave him opportunity to witness that God was in control.  So if in the next few lines I cite some areas of concern, we can be restful that for Christians there is always a way through.  ‘Seeing no apparent issue, but our way not entirely shut up’ (1 Cor 4:8 Darby), or ‘perplexed, but not in despair’ (1 Cor 4:8 KJV).

Theresa_MayAs to the United Kingdom, Mrs Theresa May is now in charge.  On the face of it she should be a practical leader, supported by some good ministers and civil servants.  She should do well for the country, especially with all the ramifications of leaving the European Union.  We need to pray for her in this regard.

Is she a true Christian?  We would hope so.  Certainly she goes to church, and is the daughter of a Church of England vicar.  She admits that her Christian faith has influenced her politics and one of her favourite hymns is ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’.  However, she supported David Cameron in the introduction of same sex marriage, something abhorrent to any bible-loving believer.

Her rival in the race to become prime minister was far more open about her love for the Lord Jesus, as was another contender who withdrew earlier.  Both Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb opposed this and other ‘liberal’ moves.  Thankfully Mrs Leadsom is still in the government as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

There is, however an area of concern, for which we need to pray.  The Cameron government had been working on measures to curb extremism, especially in Islam.  Radical teachers have infiltrated schools and universities, with dire consequences.  This would appear to be a wise move.  However some secularists, especially in the judiciary, have regarded adherence to the gospel as being extreme.  As is the case in English law, wording is often deliberately vague, it being left to the courts to interpret it, and sadly many judges would appear to be set against the gospel and true Christian teaching.  Christians are under pressure, with threats of losing their employment and worse.  There is a danger that ‘Extremism Disruption Orders’ could be used to silence preachers, constrain Christian youth groups and even close churches.

Why I highlight this, is that as Home Secretary, Mrs May would have been the architect of this policy.  We must pray that she modifies and clarifies her intentions as Prime Minister, protecting normal Christian activities.  Significantly earlier in her political career (2000-2002) she voted against the promotion of homosexual practices and opposed children being placed for adoption by same-sex couples.  Pressure to confirm to this world must have caused her to change her position on these matters.

Another legal attack on our young people is in Scotland.  The nationalist government under Nicola Sturgeon proposed that every child in Scotland was to be assigned a named state guardian to monitor their ‘wellbeing or happiness’.  In this way the rights and responsibilities of parents would be seriously undermined, and the state would have a right to obtain the closest family secrets.  Moreover, these proposals would promote an anit-Christian secularist agenda.  It was opposed by many Christian organisations.  Mercifully the Supreme Court has deemed this unconstitutional and contravening article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  The Supreme Court justices observed: ‘The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.’  We can expect the Scottish government to continue is line in a modified form.

Another area of concern is in the area of education.  There is a proposal that Sunday schools and other gatherings where young people are taught need to be registered and may be inspected by the British Government’s agency OFSTED.  ‘Unacceptable’ teaching such as the exclusivity of the gospel, the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, and creation could be attacked.  It could even be envisaged that this could extend to Bible readings too.  But let’s be calm, with God and pray about this.

Our hope is that with the pressure of work caused by Brexit, these measures will not progress.  But there is always the danger of their being quietly slipped through.  Evil workers abound.  As Christians we are to ‘walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man’ (Col 4:5-6).

As Paul wrote, ‘I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:1-4).

 

Note – for much of this I am grateful to Colin Hart of the Christian Institute – Please pray that Theresa May will protect religious liberty and from Andrea Williams of Christian Concern, Theresa May, our new Prime Minister

 

Indeed Christian Concern says, ‘We as believers can draw spiritual encouragement from Psalm 46:10, in the wake of uncertainty following the decision to leave the EU. ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (Darby and others).

As ever in times of uncertainty and change, the Word of God offers us profound reassurance. In the wake of the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, let us turn to Psalm 46 and draw encouragement and wisdom from our Lord.’

How a Christian is to Exist in this Evil World

The word ‘world’ can be used in three ways:

The world-space – The earth, the platform on which the world-system operates.
The world-people – Those on the earth.
The world-system – The order or system according to which human affairs are managed on the earth.
When we read that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (world-people), that was to the world-space. In so doing He came in contact with the world-system which hated Him. When He said to His disciples, ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:16), He meant that they were not under the system, governed by it, or finding their life in it.

Based on J. N. Darby

JohnNelsonDarbyWhat the World is; and how a Christian can live in it

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).

Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

  • What is the world?
  • What is it from which we are to keep ourselves unspotted?

The word ‘world’ can be used in three ways:

  1. The world-space – The earth, the platform on which the world-system operates.
  2. The world-people – Those on the earth.
  3. The world-system – The order or system according to which human affairs are managed on the earth.

When we read that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (world-people), that was to the world-space. In so doing He came in contact with the world-system which hated Him. When He said to His disciples, ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world’ (John 17:16), He meant that they were not under the system, governed by it, or finding their life in it.

He that is a friend of the world-system is an enemy of God, because this world is self-governing and not subject to God. It is a bit like the military system which funds, clothes, arms, trains, accommodates and orders. The soldier simply has to subject himself to the system. It is a self-contained system.

Man wants society. Position is everything: there is an innate desire to climb the great ladder. Some succeed, whilst others strive to maintain their current levels. What a tremendous power to absorb heart and mind the social world-system possesses! People want good government, physical protection, property, human rights, free trade, education, health care – these are met by the world-system. It is amazing! Non-academic people find manual labour or serve in restaurants or care homes; others have creative talents in art, music and literature. Entrepreneurs run successful businesses; others are doctors, administrators and politicians. It takes all kinds to make a world, they say

The object of the world-system is to keep the great moving mass of humanity thoroughly occupied and reasonably contented. People’s hearts and are kept busy from the cradle to the grave.

Man is a very complicated creature. A good many different things taken together are needed for self-fulfilment; a little business, a little politics, a little society, a little study, and a little religion. Man is naturally religious. The word ‘religion’ occurs only five times in the whole Bible. Religion is not godliness, for worshippers of idols are religious. Even humanism can be a religion. Religion is as much a part of man’s nature as his intellect or memory. The world-system provides for man’s religious needs. One may like beautiful music; others relish imposing ceremonies; another wants to give vent to his unrestrained emotions, while another is opposite, preferring cold, legal orthodoxy. To assuage their guilty feelings some do penance. There are creeds, doctrines and sects for every shade of religious temperament, outlook and traditions.

Now God is leading some, alas a very few, to see that all this business, politics, education, government, technology, inventions, electronic communications and the internet, entertainment, charitable institutions – and religion are all part of the ever-improving world-system. But the Christian’s place is not in them, though he r she may use them. Whatever Christ’s present relationship to the world is, that is the Christian’s too – His place is above. That defines our place. Meanwhile, Satan is the god of this world, the manager of this stupendous system. His has the energy and genius: he is the prince. When Jesus Christ was on earth, the devil came and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world. He said ‘All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine’ (Luke 4:6-7). That exposed Satan. Scripture described him as ‘full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty’ (Ezek 28:12) and ‘like an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14).

It is little wonder if men are deceived and deluded? A few have their eyes opened to see, by the word of God, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, what the world really is. Some may think they have escaped from the snare of worldliness, if they have given up worldly pleasures, and become active in churches. They do not realise that they are just as much in the world-system as before, only Satan, its prince, has shifted them from one department to another, to quieten their uneasy consciences and make them better satisfied with themselves.

The question arises, how is the Christian to escape from the control of the world-system? Paul says, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’ (Rom 8:14). The Christian’s normal mode of life is being governed by Christ, the Christian’s Head, under His immediate direction in all things small and great. This is how Christianity cuts at the very root of worldliness, for man’s free-will is the foundation on which the world-system is constructed, just as Christian life is founded on dependence on God and obedience to His will. Satan’s world is a great system for man which is a perfect substitute for the leading of God’s Spirit. The great apostasy is fast approaching and Satan openly will declare himself personally to be god of this world. So is it not high time for Christians to awake out of sleep, and to see to it that they are not in any way associated with a system that is fast heading for judgment?

But we will say, ‘How can we help it? Are we not bound by necessity to these things by our trades and professions, as members of government and of society -business must be attended to?’ Everybody admits that, but the very fact that everybody admits it, demonstrates that it as not of God.

It is our faith that gets the victory that over the world (See 1 John 5:4). Faith does not look at outward circumstances, at what is, or is not, possible; it disregards what seems, and looks at God. People will tell us what we should and should do not do, but the child of God walks straight ahead, paying no attention to what they say. Our natural way may appear perfectly reasonable and satisfactory, but the one who walks by faith knows that whatever is universally agreed on as the right way must be wrong – that is the broad way.

Another question arises as to our citizenship. Should a Christian be interested in the government of the country to which he belongs, and vote, so as to help to put good men in power. Darby said ‘No, as God’s child, I am not a citizen of any country, or a member of any society; my citizenship is in heaven, and I have henceforth to do with heavenly things; the cross of Christ has crucified me to the world, and the world to me; if I give my mind and heart to these earthly things I shall be the enemy of the cross of Christ. Be not conformed to the world.’ God orders governments, so we submit ourselves to them, pay our taxes, and pray to God for kings, and all in authority (See 1 Tim 2:2). It is not that he voting in itself wrong, as that the Christian has given his vote and interest to the Man in heaven, whom God has exalted as King of kings, and Lord of lords. On the other hand, he sees that the world is ungodly and independent of God, coming under judgment.

We who are saved are to be distinct, blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke shining as lights in the world (See Phil 2:15). This is to be our mission. But to live in this way costs something. We will be like a single rock in a fast-flowing river. Everything around us is on the move, pressure, pressure, pressure, and we would get swept it away were we not a rock on a firm base. We have the word of God governing our lives, so we are stable when the storm comes. Being an honest and good church-going citizen brings no persecution, that is just flowing with the river, but to shine as a light in the world for Christ, provokes the world’s enmity because He is hated. If I enjoy a fair reputation in the world, the life of Jesus is not made manifest in my mortal body, Christ is not discoverable in me. That is a test.

When once a person has really come to know God, he is drawn upward, by union with Christ on high, from participation in the things of the world-system. His desire is to be more like Him, and transformed from this present evil world. He has become a son of God, with eternal life in Christ. How can he turn back to the world’s weak and beggarly elements? There are no rules. It does not say, ‘Thou shalt not vote, thou shalt not be honoured in this evil age, thou shalt suffer shame.’ It is a wonderful provision, that the heart of love finds no difficulty in discovering the will of God, while the heart that is not sincere finds excuses and invents ways of enjoying the worldly path whilst appearing sincere externally.

To conclude, we have to be in contact with the world-system to some degree, but this contact is never to be one of fellowship; what concord can there be between Christ and Belial (2 Cor 6:15)?  Jesus said to His Father in John 17:15, ‘I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.’ Jesus, who was not of this world, suffered and was straitened; the loneliness and tribulation were real to Him, and they will be real to us just as we follow in His steps. Are we at home here, where Christ is not? We are homeless wanderers and weary pilgrims.

Alas, we live too much according to the world-system to be brought into conflict with it. The result is that we become disloyal subjects of Christ, and we escape the cross and its reproach. There is a narrow way; may we be of the “few” who find it. We carry our passports with us. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, waiting for the shout to be caught up into the air, to meet our Lord and be for ever with Him – What a blessed hope!

 

Sosthenes

June 2015

For original see Union in Incarnation, the root error of modern theology.

The World cannot Continue the Way it is.

 

Based on John Nelson Darby’s paper ‘What is the World, and What is its End? A serious question for those who are of it.’ – by Sosthenes

Note – This paper was written in 1862. Though much of what Darby wrote has relevance today, circumstances, especially in technology, have changed, and these have been reflected in this summary. Changes I have made are shown in blue.

judgment-dayDespite Christianity, the world has not changed since Adam. Things have progressively deteriorate, but man’s worst sin was the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. Men fear what might come, but the Christian is restful, trusting in God. Some might try and loosen human restraints, whilst others tighten them. Some say that commerce or education is the answer. Religious superstition and extremism, and infidelity may oppose one another, but the world is the same. It is under judgment. God is patient and merciful, but evil will not prevail. Flee the wrath to come.

 

The World is Unchanged

Men are apt to think that have continue unchanged in this world since creation (or since the so-called ‘big bang’). Man has been more prosperous and civilised, making great strides in technology, travel, communications, ammunitions and medicine. All the time, though, man himself is unchanged, his passions remain, and the essential differences in the world since biblical times are not so great as is supposed. Children are not more obedient; families are not more united; the relationship between employer and employee is no better. The world thinks itself better, and vaunts its progress – but is it progress? Underneath the veneer, it recognises that things cannot go on long as they are; we are heading for yet another a crisis of the world’s history, which must result in great disruption.

Christianity has made a difference. But if we look beneath the surface, even that is not much. The world is not Paradise, as God made it. Since Adam, the world has developed through man’s departure from and independence of God.  Men posture their solutions, some advocating democracy and others authoritarianism.  But though judgment is inevitable, God is patient – and over all.

Throughout history men have worried about the future of the world, but their fears, are the fruit of the restless working of principles beyond their control. The world is inherently unstable: regimes have ended violently because man’s passions were stronger than that which controlled them. The bonds of society are either too tight or too weak. Power is not in them, but in the force beneath them. As a result, some would slacken the bonds to give people more independence, whilst others would tighten them through repression. Furthermore, others just give up in fear, hoping for the best.

Man desires to be in control, or at least, control what is within his reach. This can be seen in modern times in the matter of climate change. Despite his fear, man has an exaggerated estimate of his self-importance. The true Christian, on the other hand, he does not fear in this way: he knows that God is over everything. He is more calm and clear-sighted, more interested in the needs of his fellow men, and less interested in politics. In spite of this though, many Christians are deluded into believing that they can meet the world’s needs by their own good works. They even worship them!

 

What is the World?

What is, then, the world? It is a vast system, grown up after man had departed from God, nd Satan is the god and prince of it. At the fall, Man was driven out of the place in which God had set him in innocence and peace. God had made him a vagabond, and barred His way back to the tree of life. Man gave up God for his own lusts and, under the influence of Satan, built a city, Enoch (Gen 4:17), adorning it with art and music. Left without law, the world became so bad that God had to destroy mankind by the deluge, leaving just eight persons. Then under law, man plunged into idolatry, ignoring every prophetic warning. Ultimately God sent His Son, but man would not have Him: He was cast out of the vineyard and slain. Man turned God out of the world, as far as he could, when He had come into it in mercy.

Now when we look at the principles and motives which characterise the world, are they “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) – pleasure, gain, vanity, ambition, etc. When we speak of men getting on in the world, is it not ambition and gain which motivates? There cannot be much difference in what Cain did in his city, and what men are now doing in theirs. If, say, a Chinese person came to London to see what Christ and Christianity was, he or she would find men governed by the same motives that govern the masses back home in Beijing or Guangzhou. In short, he would find a system in which men honour one another more than God. The world rejected the Son of God when He was here, but the Father set Him at His right hand . Jesus said, “Oh, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee...” (John 17:25). Then, “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

There is no point in looking to heathenism or Islam for the world; we must look to Christendom. What characterises its state is pleasure, gain, ambition, vanity, without conscience, like the Pharisees. A man is morally what he pursues: if gain, He is covetous: if power, he is ambitious; if pleasure, he is hedonistic, and so on. At the beginning, of Christianity, God’s grace and power of the Holy Spirit raised people above normal human values, and united them in the enjoyment of heavenly things, displaying a care for one other in a way the world never knew. They were dead to the world, pure in walk and unselfish in their ways, so the church got the attention of a hostile, yet admiring, world. Now for centuries, what in infidelity calls itself the church, is marked by ambition, crime and deceit, haughty power and worldly luxury. It makes no difference whether we are looking at Catholicism, Greek orthodoxy or Protestantism. Of course the Spirit of God is active, and that, thank God, good is done in the midst of all this. However, that is not the world, but a distinct power which works in the midst of the world, influencing it and its government. The world is far more guilty,  having had Christianity in its midst – it has not ceased to be the world.

Remember that it was at the death of Christ that the devil received the title of prince of this world, and as to his religious influence, is called the god of this world, When God’s throne was at Jerusalem this was impossible; but, when the true Ruler of the world was rejected, it became plain that Satan was its prince. No doubt the cross gave Satan’s power its death-blow in the sight of God, but not in the in the sight of the world.

Satan’s worst reign is his religious one, as we see from the beasts in Revelation. He reigns only by the corrupt motives of man’s heart, the fears of a bad conscience being the means of his power. He leads men astray by their lusts, and then gives them religion to assuage their consciences, for he cannot cleanse them. Hence wickedness becomes religious wickedness, and the conscience even thinks it is doing God service, while Satan craftily directs all this to his own end, the governance of the world – the Christian world – by men’s lusts. In unbelief and defiance of Christ, the pursuit of gain and pleasure is more ardent and unrestrained than ever. War rages as it ever did.

What, then, is its end? Judgment, speedy judgment. Of the day and the hour, no man knows: it comes as a thief in the night. The self-confident thoughts that men have of improving the world by human development and energy are evil in the extreme. Man sees himself and the world as getting better. He views Christianity as only a phase of man’s history; better is to come. Where from, and how?

 

Commerce and Education

Commerce, we are told, civilises. Commerce appears to have made the world less violent; but gain is its selfish motive. It has not elevated the tone of society, but the contrary. Fraud and corruption are major problems. It has not stopped exploitation and wars; it has caused many, especially where oil is concerned.

What has education done? It certainly has enlargesd the mind, but has it changed man’s values?  People are more educated than they used to be; but to what end? Has the influence of superstition really diminished? The infidelity produced by dependence on man’s mind has forced men, who are not personally established in divine truth, back into a different type of superstition. They call it liberalism, which is bound by no truth, knows no truth, and doubts all truth. It is simply destructive. Go anywhere and everywhere, to India, England, Italy, Russia or America: deliverance from superstition is not by truth, but by disbelief of all known truth. Even Christians rely, not on the Spirit, the gospel and word of God, but on human progress.

 

Superstition and Infidelity

The present conflict is between superstition and infidelity – the mere pretensions of man’s mind.  Neither superstition nor infidelity know or respect truth. One recognises authority; the other rejects it. One is the church, so called (with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, I would venture to include this – Sosthenes); the other, free thought. Faith in the truth is known to neither. Where it is no one knows; the business of man’s mind being to disprove any claim to it.

It is a striking phenomenon that liberalism or infidelity prefer Popery to truth. Truth is divine, Popery is human, and liberalism will be liberal as to it. So governments, pander to Popery, because it is a strong, unscrupulous political power, not concerned with the truth. When centralised power fails, it falls back on modifications, witness Liberation Theology in Latin America, and formal protestant religion which has given up scripture and all moral values.

Even if we turn to America, which many would regard as the most attractive part of the new world, what do we see? There is a large profession and much religious activity, even large-scale tele-evangelism, but Christians are often the most worldly of all.   Money is the number one influence; overrun with alcoholism, immorality and family breakdown.

 

So where is God in all this?

The world, then, has been evil from its origin. Christianity has been corrupted by man.   It has not reformed the world, more it has become the seat of its greatest corruption. Commerce, a partial civiliser of men, absorbs them with the basest of motives – avarice, indifferent to truth and morality.  Education has not improved man’s motives or morals either, nor has it freed him from the bonds of superstition. It has merely set aside all positive truth, by infidelity.

So where is God in all this? God is patient with men, a testimony to His grace. He continues to testify, so long as souls can be won and delivered. But He will not allow the power of evil to last for ever. He declares that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse; filling up the cup of wrath for themselves. He is patient till no more can be done. God says, “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen 15:16). Finally He will remove all evil and bless the earth.

 

Judgment of the World

The object here is not to enter into prophecy in any detail; that has been amply done elsewhere. But the course of the world’s history points to judgment, the removal of the power of evil by power being the only remedy. This is clearly stated in scripture. This is not the judgment of the dead before the Great White Throne, but the judgment of this visible world. ‘Because he [God] hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him [Jesus] from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). Sin will increase till judgment comes. But the world’s greatest sin  was the rejection and crucifixion of Christ.  However, He whom the world rejected, God has raised from the dead, and committed all judgment to Him. Every knee will bow to Him; and the more boldly men have rejected and opposed Him, the more terrible will be their judgment.  All man’s pride, vanity and pretension must come to nought.

Read:

Such is the end of the world as we know it. Its profession of Christianity will only have increased the severity of its judgment. They that have known their Master’s will, and not done it, will be beaten with many stripes. (See Luke 12:47). Christendom fell from the heavenly state in the early chapters of the Acts. Now it will wax worse and worse, ripening for the judgment that so surely awaits it. Flee from the wrath to come.

April 2015