America: dead in sin and in need of new life!
Jesus told His disciples – “’Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’” They responded – “’Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’” Jesus then clarified what He meant – “’Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’” (John 11: 11-15) By the time they arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Many of the Jews had come to comfort Mary and Martha about the death of their brother. When Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went and met Him and said to Him – “’Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’” (John 11: 17-22) Jesus’ response to her was – “’Your brother will rise again.’” Martha replied – “’I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’” (John 11: 23-24) Jesus then replied – “’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11: 25-26)
Jesus had already stated about Himself; “’I am the Bread of life’” (John 6: 35), “’I am the light of the world’” (John 8: 12), “’I am the door’” (John 10: 9), and “’I am the good shepherd’” (John 10: 11). Now, Jesus once again proclaimed His deity, and claimed that He had within Himself the power of resurrection and of life. Through His “I am…” revelations, Jesus revealed that God could spiritually sustain believers; give them light to guide their lives; save them from eternal judgment; and give His life to free them from sin. Now He revealed that God was also able to raise them from death and give them new life.
Jesus as life, came to give His life, so that all who believe in Him would have eternal life. Our redemption required Jesus’ death, and our authentic Christian life also requires death – the death of our old self or old nature. Consider Paul’s words to the Romans – “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6: 6-10)
For those who would say that salvation by grace is “easy religion,” or in any way is a license to sin, consider what else Paul told the Romans – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6: 11-13)
Only Jesus can release a person from the dominion of sin. No religion can do this. Self reformation may change some things in a person’s life, but it cannot change the spiritual state of that person – spiritually he still remains dead in sin. Only a new spiritual birth can give a person a new nature that is not bent toward sin. Paul told the Corinthians – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor. 6: 19-20)
How did Paul counsel the new Gentile believers from Ephesus? Paul wrote – “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4: 17-32)
Is there any doubt that America has been blessed by the truth of God. We are a nation that has had freedom of religion for over 200 years. We have had the word of God – the Bible. It has been taught in our homes and our churches. Bibles can be purchased in stores all over our country. We have a myriad of churches we can attend. We have television and radio stations that proclaim the word of God. God has truly blessed America, but what are we doing with Him? Does our nation reflect the fact that we have had more light and truth than any other nation in modern history? It is becoming more obvious by the day that we are rejecting God’s light, and instead embracing darkness as light.
The writer of Hebrews warned the Hebrews of the reality of chastening under the New Covenant of grace – “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12: 25-29)
As Donald Trump proclaims what so many Americans want to see happen – America to become “great” again; none of the Presidential candidates can do this. The moral foundations of our nation have crumbled – they lie in ruins. We call evil good, and good evil. We see light as dark, and darkness as light. We worship everything except God. We treasure everything except His word. No doubt Americans at one time could rejoice as they read the words of this Psalm – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” (Psalm 33: 12) But now it may behoove us to heed what David wrote – “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9: 17)
America has forgotten God. No one man or woman can save our nation. Only God can bless us. But God’s blessings follow obedience to His word. We cannot expect to be a great nation again when we have turned away from God. He brought this nation into existence. He may take it out of existence. Look at history. How many nations have forever vanished? We are not Israel. We do not have promises in the Bible like they do. We are a Gentile nation that God blessed with abundant freedom and truth. In 2016, we have mostly rejected truth and our freedom is disappearing.
God has offered us eternal freedom through the life and death of His Son. He has also given us political freedom. Rather than being spiritually free in Christ, we have chosen bondage to sin. What price will we need to pay before we wake up to the reality of our true condition?