“RESIST” – PART 1
…IN A NUTSHELL…
We live in a Godless (notice the capital G) society. It is so easy to criticise from the “comfort of our armchairs” and do nothing about the degeneration of our nation. Instead, let us:
- Rejoice in what is good in our nation
- Resist what is wrong
- Reaffirm what is good
- Refuse to allow the “world’s ways” to come into the Church
- Recognise where the “world’s way” is deceiving us into compromise
- Rebuild our spiritual lives and the life of the church
Well…there we go…I sit down now and rest my case! This is what we should do to “RESIST”….now let us break this down and see what it actually means in practice…
RESIST THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD???
Philosophy literally means “the love (philia) of wisdom (sofia)”. The wisdom of the world is based on man’s understanding, man’s perception of right and wrong, man’s belief in what is good and bad, man’s belief on what is best and beneficial to do in each and every situation. Much of the wisdom of the world is good – why should this surprise us? Man is made in the image of God. Yet, man’s wisdom is also influenced by the evil one – the Prince of this World. The Kingdom of the World is often in direct opposition to the Kingdom of God. Therefore, it should not surprise us that much of the wisdom of the world is anti-God. The Kingdom of the World believes that its philosophy, its wisdom, is right…and wants us, who are in the Kingdom of Heaven, to follow their philosophy of life.
This philosophy of the world is expressed in lifestyle. The Kingdom of the World wants us, in the Kingdom of Heaven, to follow their lifestyle. What should our response be?
Let us look at the example of “The Hebrew 4” in the Book of Daniel. For they show us how we, the children of the Kingdom of Heaven, should live in the Kingdom of the World.
THE “HEBREW 4” RESIST THE PHILOSOPHY OF BABYLON
Daniel 1: 1-20
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure-house of his god.
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility – 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. 5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself in this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favour and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men of your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 ‘Please test your servants for ten days: give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Let us look at how the experiences of the “Hebrew 4” can help us resist the philosophy of the world in which we live:
- The World is not all bad…
Babylon, in Christian circles, is synonymous with evil and a world empire of corruption that shall be ultimately ended before the Second Coming of Christ. But in this passage, we hear an amazing fact – God used Babylon as His instrument of justice on Judah! Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, was God’s servant in this matter! And – read the whole book of Daniel – Nebuchadnezzar continued to serve and be used by God (no matter how many times he “messed it up”) throughout his life.
And, you know, Babylon was an awesome city – the wonder of the world, with one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” in it – the “Hanging gardens of Babylon”. And it was a city nation based on laws almost as old as that of the Law of Moses – in this case the Code of Hammurabi. It was a nation of justice, art, culture, beauty, learning and literature. Its armies brought peace to the whole region. Its society was at the zenith of the ancient world at this time. Its wisdom, its philosophy of life, was seen as the best in the known world. It raised up capable, gifted, men like the “Hebrew 4”. Its food, its medicines, its education, was second to none.
“The Hebrew 4” were trained for service in this worldly kingdom. They did not resist this. They embraced this calling. They served the kingdom of Babylon well and in the next few chapters of Daniel we see that they rose to the top of their profession in service for the kingdom. There was no “as Jews we will have nothing to do with an evil world” here – they lived in the world, they served in the world…
But they did not COMPROMISE with the kingdom of the World in which they lived – they remained FAITHFUL to the Kingdom of Heaven of which they were citizens…and so should we.
In the contentious and controversial film “Monty Python and the Life of Brian” the “People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine” have their now-famous “What have the Romans ever done for us?” debate. They begin with a call to destroy the Romans who have done nothing but harm to Judea but end with a final declaration that –
Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Revolutionary I: Brought peace?
Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!
In the same way it is rather tempting to simply criticise the nation in which we live.
Our nation has led the world in law and culture, education and medicine. It cares for the poor, has an NHS which we like to criticise, but which is second to none. It donates millions to nations around the world and protects the liberties of its citizens. Maybe it is time to stop “UK bashing”. Maybe it is time to take a leaf out of the book of “The Hebrew 4” and be willing to serve in our nation – in politics, administration, education and health – in ways that we have never done before.
BUT…it is an increasingly Godless nation, and we must resist being compromised by its expectations for us – we must resist embracing its Godless values and its world-view philosophy.
- But it wants us to live by its philosophy
Nebuchadnezzar wanted the best servants of the state – those who were highly educated in the culture and traditions of Babylon, those who were physically strong – at the peak of their abilities in every way. So, it was natural to ensure that they were given the best of everything – including the best diet that the Babylonians could offer. Food! How tempting for the Jewish captives. Plenty after so many years of little; being spoilt after so many years of captivity. Surely there was nothing wrong in eating the food of Babylon….?
But “The Hebrew 4” said “no” – because this royal food would defile them. Why would the royal food defile them? The deposed king of Judah was happy to eat at Nebuchadnezzar’s table – according to 2 Kings 25:29, King Jehoiachin also ate the King’s food when in exile. Were these delicacies bad because they were mixed with blood which is forbidden in the Law (Genesis 9: 4, Deuteronomy 12: 23)? Did the food contain the flesh of unclean animals such as pigs (Deuteronomy 14: 3-20) or an animal that had died rather than was killed (Deuteronomy 14: 21)? Were the wine or meat originally offered to idols (Exodus 34: 15)? Or were they unacceptable because they had not been prepared according to Jewish dietary practices? Whatever the reason, we hear nothing more of king Jehoiachin but plenty more of “The Hebrew 4”. Jehoiachin was happy to compromise with the philosophy of the world while “The Hebrew 4” were not. Instead they insisted on being tested with simply vegetables and water for ten days.
You see…they decided that they were NOT going to be compromised by the world’s philosophy; they were God’s people and they were going to live God’s way…even though they were told that the king would not allow their diet, that the king would be very angry.
Come on! Let’s be challenged by their faithfulness to live God’s way – no matter what the world was saying. What is the world’s philosophy that is causing the church to compromise? There’s so much – it’s hard to know where to begin. It is the lifestyle of how to speak, what to wear, what to do, what to watch on the TV, what music to listen to on the radio or YouTube, It’s embracing the world’s philosophy of “dog-eat-dog”, “put me first”, “money is what will make you happy”, “take your ease, rest and enjoy – you deserve it”, “all religions are equally valid”, “if you’re good you’ll get to heaven”, “do it your way – as long as you don’t hurt others”. It’s accepting societies morality – that homosexual love is OK, that cross-dressing is OK, that trans-genderism is OK, that abortion is OK.
- But, how do we know what is OK and what isn’t?
“The Hebrew 4” KNEW what was God’s way. They knew it because they knew God’s Law and were filled with God’s Spirit, because they had been taught God’s better way from their youth. They knew God’s way and were willing to RESIST the call to compromise because they not only knew God’s way but had committed themselves to God’s way.
Like Jehoiachin we can KNOW God’s way but choose to live the world’s way. It’s our choice as to whether to resist or not. It’s our choice to be committed to God’s way or not.
But, how do we know what is God’s way unless we are saturating ourselves in His good Word? How do we know God’s way unless we continue to meet with one another – honing ourselves as iron sharpens iron? How do we know God’s way unless we continue to listen to good sound doctrinal teaching? Do these things and we will know God’s way in a Godless society. But even KNOWING God’s way we’ve got to choose to take the risk…
- And what is the result of doing things God’s way?
Jehoiachin compromised with the world’s philosophy and disappeared. “The Hebrew 4” resisted the world’s ways and followed God’s ways and we are told:
- They were healthier than any others
- There was none equal to them in the kingdom – in wisdom and ability.
Be encouraged – good things happen when you do things God’s way. You will be spiritually stronger and wiser than those around you.
- What does doing things God’s way mean in our relationships with others?
“The Hebrew 4” didn’t criticise the Babylonian way; they weren’t “wingers and moaners” about the Babylonian way; rather they showed the Babylonians that their way – God’s way – was better. And the Babylonians were amazed…
And we must risk by being open and honest about what we are going to do and believe – without criticising – and the world will see the better way…they won’t always accept it, and we might suffer because of it (as we shall see in later parts)…but they will be amazed!
This, of course, is our relationship of risk and resist with the world…it’s different in our relationship with those in the Kingdom of Heaven…
- What about when we SEE compromise with the world’s philosophy in the church?
We resist the philosophy of the world by committing ourselves to living God’s way and then showing the world through our behaviour and our witness that which is a better way. But, what about when the philosophy of the world has already entered the Kingdom of Heaven?
Take a look at this situation that was reported by “Voice for Justice (UK)” on the 11th January 2022:
The Church of England announced last week that Stephen Knott is to be the new Archbishop’s Appointment Secretary. No, this does not mean that he will be overseeing Justin Welby’s diary – as, from the job title, one might be excused for imagining. Rather this is one of the most senior appointments in the Anglican Church, carrying responsibility for the appointment of bishops, deans, and other senior posts in the Church of England, and involving close collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretary (https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/news/news-and-statements/stephen-knott-be-new-archbishops-secretary-appointments).
In fact, it can with justification be said that whoever is appointed to this task holds the key to all future appointments in the Church of England and the direction that it takes.
What is of primary significance in Mr Knott’s appointment, however – albeit unmentioned in the official announcement – is that he is ‘married’ to Major General Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, Governor of Edinburgh Castle. The pair were apparently married in July last year in St John’s Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, with the ceremony conducted by no less a personage than the Rt Revd John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh (https://virtueonline.org/lambeth-deputy-become-archbishops-appointment-secretary-married-homosexual).
From his clear commitment to the social normalisation of same-sex relationships, it is to be expected that Mr Knott’s recommendations will support the promotion of greater ‘diversity and inclusivity’. His appointment is, therefore, a clear challenge to those who uphold traditional doctrine as set down in the Bible and, whether intended or not, is a laying down of battle-lines.
While asserting God’s love for all, the website for the Anglican Communion states unequivocally that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture. It stands on the commitment of the Church to ‘uphold faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union’. It further states that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage’ (https://www.anglicancommunion.org/resources/document-library/lambeth-conference/1998/section-i-called-to-full-humanity/section-i10-human-sexuality).
Yet, in sanctioning the appointment of Mr Knott ⎼ a man who is not just same-sex attracted but in a ‘marriage’ celebrated in direct contravention of existing guidelines – it would appear that Justin Welby has chosen to override the clear doctrinal position of the Church of which he is the de facto leader, preferring to promote so-called diversity. By this one action he has nailed his colours firmly to the mast of secular inclusivity, and betrayed his oath of obedience to the teachings of the Church.
Mr Knott is free to follow whatever life-style he so desires, but the choices he has made disbar him from holding office in the Christian Church. By making this appointment, therefore, the Church of England proclaims that it is apostate and that it has rejected the clear teachings of Christ. It says it is no longer the Church of God – but, truly, a Church of England. Those who believe in the Bible can no longer, with integrity, follow these warped and blasphemous teachings, that make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
Although it might well be argued that the language here is VERY strong…yet it is a clear, and very topical, example of the church receiving and condoning and accepting the philosophy of the world. How many other examples can we call to mind?
How should we RESIST the invasion of the church by the philosophy of the world? Let us pray against it. Let us speak out against it to the churches that allow it. If necessary, let us come out of churches that accept it. But let us no more stand silently by and ignore it. We are not perfect – not one of us – but we are not talking here of compromise that is recognised and repented of; we are talking here of the philosophy of the world being allowed to take root where it does not belong. But let us not be overwhelmed by it, always thinking about it, feeling defeated by it. Let us RESIST it and move on from it – focusing our thoughts on all that is good and rejoicing in our relationship with our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, and have peace as we walk with the Holy Spirit.
Let us ensure that we do not allow the growing ungodliness in our society to drag us down – which it will, IF we focus on the troubles of the world rather than on the triumph of our God. This was written by Spurgeon and passed on to me by Jill:
“When the world my heart is rending
With its heaviest storm of care,
My glad thoughts to heaven ascending,
Find a refuge from despair.
Faith’s bright vision shall sustain me
Till life’s pilgrimage is past;
Fears may vex and troubles pain me,
I shall reach my home at last.”
QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER
- Consider and discuss what ways the world’s philosophy is infecting and compromising the Church of God.
- Discuss how we can resist the philosophy of the world infecting and compromising the Church of God