I am told on a regular basis, “write something that makes us feel good.” I understand that we want to live in comfort where we gravitate toward information that allows us to relax and enjoy life and it’s wonderful to train our mind to be a positive thinker. However, in our quest to live in “happy land” there are also difficult realities whether we choose to accept them or not. In Hebrews 4:12, God’s word is described as a two-edged sword which has the power and wisdom to know all things including our conscience. We are called to praise Him not only in the good times of blessing and peace, but also to humble ourselves and submit to Him in situations we would rather not think about or deal with.
Humanity has always been gullible to confusing evil with good because our old human nature loves to justify and excuse our guilt. Adam and Eve were the original pioneers of agreeing with Satan and did not hesitate to defend and justify their disobedience. Since then, this world has drifted so far from the shores of honesty it can hardly see land and still remains in denial about the danger. Is it any surprise that most of the world is still trying to blame others for their own decisions? When the compass of God’s truth is thrown overboard and guidance is left up to those who are spiritually blind, there are going to be serious problems. If evil were not made to appear good, there would be no such thing as temptation or deception and allow me to add that when people are more concerned with being politically correct than obedient to God, we can guarantee that society is destined for failure. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” Isaiah 5:20.
A common word I hear on a regular basis is “balance” and in fact, I use it myself from time to time but I’ve discovered that we can also use this concept as an excuse to justify our own ideas. If we study with the intention of learning about our spiritual responsibilities, we will discover challenging demands from the Lord which require us to make painful decisions. We do not hear this taught often but God operates in simple terms. He is filled with mercy and long-suffering, but He is also strict when it comes to obedience. For example, when He says, “do not look back” He means what He says, as Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt reveals. I realize this is not a happy ending but nonetheless a valuable lesson to be remembered.
We are seeing a trend in this day and age where Christianity is being projected as an image of soft and easy lifestyles that describe God as a sympathetic old man who is overly lenient. This really becomes noticeable especially at funerals where everyone no matter who they were are now suddenly declared as a devoted saint. This message seems to imply that if we sing the old hymn, “When we all get to heaven” we can rest assured that we will all end up there. Another uncomfortable subject are scriptures that command us to take up our cross and follow Him, which includes being transformed and completely changing who I am. My carnal human nature does not waste a moment trying to persuade me that it knows how to handle these religious concepts without any degree of sacrifice or suffering even though the Bible clearly explains that becoming a follower of Jesus will cost me everything.
So, with love and grace we willingly accept that the sword of God’s truth has two edges and that all Biblical instruction is not hot-fudge cake. Saul before his conversion in Acts chapter 9 was a fierce enemy of Christ, but after he encountered the living Jesus on the Damascus road, he fell in love with the one he so fervently rejected. Verse 18 says, “there fell from his eyes something like scales.” He did not just focus on the happy verses, attempt to compromise, justify, negotiate a deal, or try to escape his personal responsibility. He simply trusted in God’s truth (even the difficult parts) to make him free.
William F. Holland Jr., DD., C.ED.D. is a Christian minister, chaplain, and author. Discover more about his ministry at billyhollandministries.com. Mr. Holland can be contacted at P.O. Box 1394, Nicholasville, KY 40340