Introduction – Know What You Believe
12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.2 Tim. 1:12 (KJV)
Paul wrote these words to Timothy from a prison cell in Rome. In fact, 2 Timothy would be Paul’s final letter.
Paul was going through the toughest battle of his life, he was nearing death itself.
Nevertheless, he stood firm in his convictions and steadfast in his beliefs. He knew what he believed, even in the midst of trying circumstances.
Are you as certain in your beliefs as Paul was in this verse? Do you know what you believe?
Are you persuaded that God will keep your soul and his promises to the end of your days this side of heaven?
These are important questions for believers to consider, especially now.
Like Paul in Rome, a lot of us have been facing unprecedented challenges lately.
We’ve become well acquainted with confronting difficult choices on an almost daily basis, especially in regard to our bodies and health.
But it doesn’t stop there. Issues related to free speech, gender, education and more are both top of mind and front and center in Christian households across the globe.
Underscoring this toxic onslaught of challenging choices has been what feels like a never ending torrent of misinformation, humanistic opinion and unencumbered group-think.“We are being coerced to blindly accept the new and to completely disregard the old.”
The result? Believers are weary, doubtful, scared and puzzled. And why wouldn’t they be?
The currents of contemporary thought have swelled into a tidal wave set on demolishing anything having to do with traditional values, Biblical standards and God’s established order.
We are being coerced to blindly accept the new and to completely disregard the old.
All around us the air crackles with proclamations that the past must die, and that we must progress at any cost.
Christians have responded in varying ways to the current state of affairs.
Some have throw up their hands and followed the world. Others have stood firm, assured of their convictions. However, most remain mentally paralyzed.“The choices confronting us right now are not merely matters of arbitrary preference, they are moral dilemmas with consequences and ramifications.”
These are stuck in emotional limbo, unable to make right decisions regarding the issues at hand.
They don’t want to go against man, and they also want to follow after God. They don’t know what to do.
This is because the choices confronting us right now are not merely matters of arbitrary preference, they are moral dilemmas with consequences and ramifications.
We’re wrestling against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)
What you let into your body, what your children are taught, the extent of your religious freedom and what is deemed sexually permissible are all highly urgent topics that demand a Biblical response.
There is a fundamental battle going on underneath the surface of these major issues too.
In particular, the question that stands at the epicenter of the battle is this:
“Is what man is telling us to do aligned with what God says?”
While some things obviously go against God’s word, secular arguments are not always cut and dry or black and white.
Arguments can be misconstrued to make them more tenable, and culture can play a huge role as well by making standing for Christ difficult due to peer pressure.
For example, we can make decisions with relative ease in cultures where it is easy to reconcile man’s prerogatives with God’s word and where social structures have a reverence for God.
However, when man’s directives continually pit us against God or challenge our beliefs, and when we live in environments where it is increasingly difficult to reconcile our beliefs with orders, that’s when things can become mentally exhausting and emotionally fatiguing.
This is doubly true in societies that are openly antagonistic to God. It is even more difficult in such milieus to determine what is right and wrong as God defines right and wrong because fear prevents believers from asking questions about what they are being told to do.
Unfortunately, this is where the West finds itself currently.“Is what man is telling us to do aligned with what God says?”
Such times can be very scary for Christians who earnestly desire to live authentic Christian lives in service to their savior.
St. Augustine of Hippo once said, “Love God, and do as you will.”
This means that while Christians are to abstain from sin, if they love God and follow his Word they can do as they please in life without the risk of offending or sinning because they are living their lives based out of their love for God and what he desires.
Believers in free western countries have been able to live by this statement in most instances for quite some time because many western societies were formed out of a Biblical worldview that understood man to be naturally sinful.
Therefore, these countries developed their legal, governmental and societal frameworks in ways that curb man’s sinfulness and his raving appetite for power while at the same time basing society around Biblical principals of law, order and freedom.
Yet, these mindsets have been challenged more and more as western governments have become increasingly invasive and active in the lives of private citizens, and have begun to infringe on religious rights.“The ideologies sending the western world off the cliff today cling to the notion that man can exist without God.”
Leaders in such states have become more concerned about their own self-interests and about global agendas than the well-being of their citizenry.
It goes without saying that their objectives and goals are continually shrouded in lies and half-truths while their wallets bulge from the kickbacks of their schemes.
Again, loving God and living as you please is easy in a society that values God, but the opposite is true in states that do not hold God in high regard.
And the ideologies sending the western world off the cliff today cling to the notion that man can exist without God.
The constant barrage of mandates, directives and orders we’ve faced recently that pertain to public health, sexuality, equity, social infrastructure, and human choice to name a few, have presented Christians with a constantly changing and arbitrary set of orders that they’ve had to continually test and measure against God’s word.
To be sure, this is nothing new, we have a great cloud of witnesses that can testify throughout history to times where they had to take a stand for God in the midst of humanistic, pagan, man-centered ideologies that tried to supplant God’s authority. (Heb. 12:1)
Nevertheless, Christians are never excused from “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)
Rather, we must always be “proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10)
Also, we must not forget that seasons of persecution are blessings in that they give new, weak and uncommitted believers reasons to strengthen their faith.“Christians are never excused from bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
The problem though is that Christians usually don’t have to know what they believe until they have to, and in times like these we have to know why we believe what we believe.
Those who cannot make informed, theologically literate decisions in the face of Biblical opposition will undoubtedly get swept away by the enemy.
Yet, those who are able to articulate Biblical, God-honoring responses to challenges to Biblical authority will be able to mature in Christ and stand firm.
These will find their resolve strengthened and they will be able to think clearly in a world overflowing with confusion.
So, what is it specifically that Christians can do to make the best decisions possible for God when their beliefs are challenged?
What are some basic Bible truths that can help us keep our responses in times of persecution grounded and faithful to God?
What does the Bible teach about Godly decision making?
The next lessons in this series will answer these questions. Throughout the rest of this series we are going to look at Biblical teachings that can help Christians navigate difficult decisions in times of trial.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
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