As churches of Jesus Christ, many of us are bringing shame upon the Master because of a modern tendency to cast off all restraint. It appears in varied forms in different places, but essentially it betrays the same feature, namely a desire to break out of traditional moulds, remove ancient boundary markers, and divest ourselves of things we feel are like strait-jackets. Let me explain.
When I was a small boy in primary school, back in the late 1930s, I can remember what our exercise books were like, and whether they were with squared paper for arithmetic, or lined paper for English, or even plain paper for drawing, on the outside back cover one always found a copy of the Ten Commandments. Mention this to youngsters today, and it produces instant amusement or incredulity. But seventy years ago it was the norm. I’m not saying that everyone kept the 10 commandments, but the fact that authorities deemed it necessary to print them for all school-children points to a nation-wide reverence for God’s standards. All that changed during the Second World War, and never returned. In the years since 1945 we have seen in the British nation a gradual whittling away of laws that were never questioned twenty years before. I do not need to make a list. It is apparent to all and sundry.
To what shall we liken God’s moral code? Imagine a circular area about 50 yards in diameter. It is enclosed by fence-panels, and written on each panel is one of God’s laws. Those living in the world (depicted by the enclosure) are aware of the laws. They are constantly in the sight of everyone (just like the copybooks I mentioned earlier.) God lives within this enclosure. It is a region of light, law, and justice. Beyond the enclosure is beyond His character. In a world of this type, to break one of thelaws means jumping over the fence at that point, and landing in forbidden territory. To do so would be to violate one’s conscience. But anyone looking back at the fence from outside would find writing there, endorsed on the panel. It would say “Repent and be saved.” The gracious provision of God would draw men back into the safety region.
This analogy has now departed altogether. Men have removed the fences, so that sin is no longer recognised. To talk about sin is more or less obsolete. In fact it is one of those words that is frowned upon in modern society, because it is uncomplimentary, rude, and critical. We pride ourselves upon the greater “freedom” we have to “do our own thing.” Without sin, there is no need of salvation. Without sin, the conscience is dead. Without sin, Jesus died in vain. The cross was unnecessary. It has no relevance to modern society.
But this is not the end. Man has recently started to erect new fences, defending acts of lawlessness, which sometimes even attract sentences in human courts of “justice” if violated. God is no longer Judge. Man is in charge of everything. In these days, to criticise sexual deviants, to abhor the act of abortion, and to defend the “right” of a child never to be disciplined, are heinous crimes in the eyes of many. We have cast off all restraint. Why therefore do the churches still look for the rise of an Antichrist in the future, as though “the man of lawlessness” is not recognised in all his lawless behaviour? Daniel told us that the “little horn” would cast truth to the ground. He would do it effectively and succeed. In the Book of Revelation, John was told that the Antichrist would have the power to overcome the saints of God for a season. Hasn’t he been doing it with increasing power and success in the last half century?
There is a blindness pervading the churches. They are not able to see the evidence before their eyes. I have before me a document downloaded from the Internet, written by a former President of a certain denomination in the USA, calling itself “The United Church of Christ.” The pastoral letter is headed, “The rights of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Persons in Society and their Membership and Ministry in the Church.” But coupled with this is their creedal statement, affirming the authority of the Bible. How they can handle such contradictions with impunity is beyond comprehension.
Charismatics have often asserted that Christ nailed the Law to the cross, so that it doesn’t apply any longer. They have divested themselves of the straitjacket. They often treat the Law as somewhat of a joke. We have heard this on tape, and shook our heads in despair. In 1919 Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem entitled “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.” His lines showed him to be something of a prophet. The tenth and last stanza runs as follows –
“And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”
For a previous treatment of this subject, see “The Fence Breakers”, Prophetic Telegraph No. 15, May 1987.