I don’t know about you, but I woke up really burdened this morning. Yesterday a man walked into a Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring Texas and began shooting. As of the time of my writing this, there are 26 dead and nearly as many wounded. It is a terrible tragedy.
This tragedy is a symptom of man’s problem of depravity. The increasing number of these sorts of violent incidents, plus so many other things, clearly testify that our culture is spiraling into depravity. Most of see this and wonder how we spiraled into this level of depravity. Scripture lays out the path to the level of depravity we are seeing now in Romans 1:18-32. Take some time to study it out and notice that I would call three stages in which a culture spirals into the level of depravity that puts us in the crisis we find today
First there is a cultural rejection of God. God has revealed Himself in a variety of ways but the culture doesn’t like what is revealed about God and so they rejected that revelation of God, and thus they rejected God Himself.
This leads to a cultural replacement of God. Since humans are wired to worship, they will worship something. Rejection of God doesn’t lead to worshipless humans, it just leads humans to exchange the glory of God for a lie and begin to worship a creation rather than the Creator.
As the culture continues to reject and replace God it finally comes to a cultural release by God. Romans tells us that a culture that rejects and replaces God eventually finds that God gives them what they want and releases them to spiral into their own depravity. When God is giving a culture over to their depravity there will be a dramatic rise in immorality. This rise in immorality will not only be seen but celebrated. This really seems to be what we are seeing now in our culture now.
While what we are seeing is bad, it is not hopeless. The people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God can make a difference. We can slow the spiral into depravity and draw some out of the downward spiral into depravity and upward toward Jesus. But changes have to be made before we can do this. These changes start with repentance.
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
This verse is part of God’s message to Solomon after the temple was completed. The promises of this verse are given in the context of the people having rebelled and are suffering the consequences of this rebellion. This verse contains great promises of what God will do if certain conditions are met. This verse contains great hope but it must be properly understood before it can be properly applied. There is one phrase the in this verse that is the key to it all. It’s the phrase “If my people…”
Question time: Who were the people of God in the Old Testament? It was Israel of course. This verse contains no promise for the Amorites… Ninevehites… Jebusites… Syrians… Assyrians or any other people in the world. The promises contained in this verse is to Israel, and Israel only, for they alone were the people of God.
The key to our understanding and applying this verse today is to understand who the people of God are now. Who are the people of God today? We must understand that America is NOT the Promised Land and Americans are NOT the people of God. The people of God today are not a national people but a spiritual one. The promises of this verse are not for Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, or any other national identity. The promises of this passage are for the Church of Jesus Christ regardless of their nationality.
This passage is calling the people of God to repentance. When Israel had sinned and were suffering the consequences for their sin, they were to repent. Today it is the Church of Jesus Christ that needs to repent. Now certainly unbelievers must repent and believe to be saved. But make no mistake, Repentance must begin with the Church.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (NKJV)
The promises of 2 Chronicles 7:14 are conditional. They only come if the people of God repent. What do we need to repent of? That’s what I’m going to write about most of this week.