Jim was a great friend of mine in high school; a smart, trusting guy who was brought up in a Christian home. He had everything going for him. But he wasn't prepared for what would happen at college.
In our very first semester, we ran into an atheist professor who taught our philosophy class. I will never forget the pride that teacher seemed to take in undermining students' beliefs.
It wasn't long before doubt and distrust caused Jim to abandon his convictions. Eventually, he threw away everything he believed about God and the Bible. Our teacher thought it was good.
Unfortunately Jim's story isn't that uncommon, but it's typical of a huge battle that's raging. It affects much more than just religion. It carries over into politics, entertainment, education and so many other aspects of life. That's why you need to stay tuned to Beyond Today as we combat the issue of "Calling Evil Good."
Coalmines are hazardous places to work. In one year alone, just over a century ago, over 32 hundred miners died working in them. As coal mines became deeper, so did the problems.
Early coal miners didn't have the special equipment we have today. Toxic and explosive gases were a constant trouble. Without adequate oxygen, the miners would die. So back then it was impossible to tell if the gases were building up to dangerous levels. The Solution? Take a canary into the mine. One of coal mining's earliest systems of warning of the presence of toxic gas was the canary in the coal mine.
Those little birds were an early coal miners' life insurance policy. They used them to test the air quality in the mines. You see, the canaries would chirp and they'd sing and they'd make noise all day long. But, because they have a very sensitive metabolism, if the gas levels became too high, the canaries reacted. They would have trouble breathing. They'd sway out of balance, noticeably and maybe even die.
Even though it was low-tech solution, it was extremely effective and it was easy to recognize: If the bird died, the miners better get out of that mine fast.
Well then they'd ventilate the mine, eliminate the gases, and start over. They'd get another canary and repeat the process until a bird survived. So if the canary died, it was unsafe. If the canary lived, it was safe to return to the mine. So that's how a canary acted as a warning system for miners.
Now, what's the point? There's also a warning system in place today. When you look around, do you see any dying canaries? Are we being warned about the time in which we live?
The researchers behind a new Gallup poll (May 2011) of Americans report that its results "tell much about the cultural climate of the country." Well is it a toxic climate? Is the air of our culture clear? How is the health of our "culture" canary?
You see this poll found that "Americans today are more positive in their overall perceptions of the state of moral values in the country (than they were in May 2010)…"
Well that brings a question: Should Americans be proud of their morals? Are other nations any better?
Well here's an interesting indicator of the toxicity, the poison, the danger that we see around us: This Gallup poll, instead of labeling behavior as right or wrong, good or evil, or sinful or righteous, their designation was either "morally objectionable" or "morally acceptable." So does that tell us anything about our society?
Isn't it showing us that morality is being redefined? You see today it's not good enough for everyone to just respect those with alternative views and different moral standards. It's not enough! It's not enough for others to live peacefully with them. You see this new kind of tolerance, it demands much more. It demands that you accept every lifestyle as good as any other. Isn't it true the absolute concept of right and wrong, good and evil, has been removed from our conscience?
Example: What do you think that poll found out about people's perspective on divorce? Yes, morally acceptable. It was seen as morally acceptable by almost 7 out of 10 people (69%). Only 23% found it morally objectionable.
Another topic. The poll asked about fornication--sex between unmarried men and women. What do you think Americans thought? 6 of 10 give it an A.O.K.
So they also asked if it was objectionable to have a child out of wedlock--out of marriage. Over half of the people (54%) don't object; they think it is morally acceptable.
So step back for a minute and think about it. Is the canary still singing? Is it staggering about or no longer breathing?
You see when you really think about it, is there any doubt that the family, the family is the basic unit of society. So if you accept anything that damages the family, you're accepting damage to society. It also damages the plan of God. Divorce obviously damages the family, and tragically it hurts the kids, the children. What about those that are born outside of marriage? They experience the same effect. Sex without marriage certainly damages the people that are involved psychologically. It cheapens what is meant to be a sacred marriage covenant.
So it becomes clear. It's obvious that we have a huge moral crisis on our hands--the canary's telling us, it's unsafe! But are we oblivious to the warning?
The Bible alerts us to conditions that are going to exist just before the return of Jesus Christ. In the example I'm going to give, these aren't external conditions. You see they're not outside events. They're not natural disasters. But instead, the Bible also predicts signs that are going to happen in people's minds and in their hearts.
The way that people think is going to change. Or maybe it has already. The Bible predicts that moral values will alter; they'll deteriorate the closer we get to the time of the end.
In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes to Timothy and he says, "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, [they'll] be reckless, [they'll] be puffed up with pride, and [they'll] love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!" (NLT).
These prophesied characteristics have to do with what's happening in people's hearts and in their minds. Their thinking is becoming degraded. People are not going to think the same way they did in the past. God says that people will harden their hearts and they'll have a twist in their thinking that results in a deviation in the right way to live.
You know this is happening right before our eyes. It's just amazing to think that in our world, many would be hard-pressed to actually identity something as sinful.
But how can you identify the influence that this culture has around you and how can you keep it from affecting your life? Is there anything more important than identify those things? Well we have something that will help. I want to tell you how you can get a free copy of our booklet, The Road to Eternal Life . This Bible study aid will help you discover what Scripture teaches about the moral crisis in our world, and perhaps more importantly, how you can find the way to steer clear of its affects in your life. You don't have to feel powerless.
Now you can read this online or you can download it at BeyondToday.tv . Or you can request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
I would also like to invite you to something very special. Beyond Today and the United Church of God are conducting unique free seminars called the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars across the United States and around the world! These seminars are your opportunity to learn more about the return of Jesus Christ and what it means. So go to BeyondToday.tv . Look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars " link and find a seminar near you and register to attend.
Now before that Kingdom of God is established on this earth, Jesus gave warning signs to watch for so you can be ready. As Christians, are we willing to see the canary in the coal mine? Yes, we should be tolerant of differences in people but there is something we must not accept. Do you know what it is?
The politically correct world around us says that there are no moral values that are better than others--all lifestyles, all behaviors are just as good as any other.
In other words: You have your values, I'll have my values. You live your life the way you want to live, I'll live my life the way I want. They're all equally good. We're all alike, no one way is better than any other way.
Is that true? Are we to accept all behaviors as equal? As a Christian, should you agree that all ways of life are equally acceptable? Is every path morally acceptable before God? In fact, I wonder how God would answer those poll questions. The same way that we would?
Now consider that canary. Why is it we don't seem to make the connections? Why is it we don't seem to take notice of what that dying bird is telling us?
Now just the other day I was listening to a radio talk show. A sports announcer had cursed on live T.V. and it brought up on the radio discussion of whether using profanity on the air is acceptable or offensive.
Now the host said that the curse words shouldn't be taken for what they actually mean, you know their profane meaning, the disrespect. He said instead, we should accept it just as "a harmless expression." You see his line of reasoning went like this: Well swear words after all they're commonplace--just about everybody uses them. They should be accepted as a societal norm because so many people don't intend anything harmful when they use it.
So here I was listening to this program and I was amazed at how many people expressed the same view. Caller after caller phoned in. Some even felt it was no big deal even if our kids use these words. They said well after all, times have changed. I thought, really? Profanity, disrespectful, derogatory words--that's what they used to be called--they should be accepted? Boy it became obvious that most of the callers don't even have a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. Now, am I being a fanatic? Is evil too strong a word?
You see we get around the problem of evil by declaring it to be good, or at the very least it's acceptable or it's really not that bad. You see the danger in that? The danger is once you start down that road of transforming things that have always been considered wrong--They've always been bad. They're really unacceptable.--Once we change that to being okay, to being acceptable behavior, what's left out? What's exempt from being redefined? Nothing.
God warns us about that in Isaiah 5:20. He tells us, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Other translations say: "Cursed are those who give the name of good to evil," (BBE) or "How terrible it will be for people who" do that (NCV). "Destruction is certain for those who say...evil is good" (NLT).
I wonder, do we deserve those strong words from God?
Have you seen what's been pasted on billboards recently? It's been on billboards, it's been on T.V., all around the world for the last couple of years. The billboard says: "Life is short--have an affair." So millions of dollars have been spent on promoting the most hurtful betrayals that many people will face in their lifetime. It actually encourages, it endorses the fact that people should have an affair. They should break their commitment to God. They should break their commitment to their spouse, and somehow that disloyalty is supposed to be fun--that's the spice of life!
See how is it labeled? It's progressive. It's a right that I have of freedom. It's a part of a cool lifestyle, a modern way to live. You see the ones who think this way, they're "enlightened." But if you think differently, if you try to live by God's standards, well you're labeled as mean-spirited. You're prejudiced, judgmental. You're old-fashioned! You're intolerant. You're a fundamental wacko, or maybe even something worse.
But you know, the fact of the matter is: There are some things that are right. There are some things that are wrong. Some things are good, but there are some things that are just plain evil.
Hosea 4:1 tells us, "The LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land." Now imagine God saying this to us! He says, "There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed. Therefore the land will mourn..."
Now doesn't that almost sound like a promo for a new video game or the latest movie?
So let me ask you: Do you believe that lethal consequences are building in our world today? Is that canary still alive?
Now just putting a short list to think about, consider this: STDs continuing to get out of hand, shootings occurring in our schools and on our streets, violence coming right into our homes through T.V., internet porn is just a click away.
Where are the voices crying out against dishonesty? Against injustice? Against evil? Where are the people that will heed those warnings? Can you imagine past generations, would they just passively accept these ideas? Yet now, we have political candidates that publicly support the things that previous generations would have only whispered about.
But God has no difficulty in defining what's right and what's wrong. His truth is like medicine for this sick world. God's instruction manual for life, His manual for living is the Bible, and it's filled with commandments to be obeyed and wrongs to reject. And it's filled with the right way to live.
Life can be different for you. You can escape the lethal fumes of this society. You can change if you'll recognize that that canary is dying. You can take action. There is a better way of life--it's God's way.
He encourages us in Romans 12:2. He tell us, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect" (NLT).
Don't ever allow the morals of this world to change you. Never allow godly values to slip from your grip. Never allow your understanding of what's good and what's evil to become clouded.
Pay attention to the warning signs. Don't be overcome by the toxic influences that are all around. Because when it comes to sin in our life, we must not accept it.
We're going to talk more about this in just a moment with Darris McNeely and Gary Petty. But first let me tell you about something that will help you face the challenges of life.
It's a free subscription to The Good News magazine. This magazine will help you understand major trends in world events through the perspective of the Bible. It will help you to see them as God views them.
Each issue of The Good News will bring important topics that you're concerned about: true success, marriage, family, and why it's important to have a relationship with your Creator. So expand your knowledge of the Bible, your knowledge of God and your knowledge of His great plan for your life.
Here's how you can receive your free subscription to The Good News. Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
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Well how are you impacted by things that are called good when in actuality they're just the opposite? We've been discussing the standards that are best for your life. We're going to discuss this further with fellow hosts of the program, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.
Now, as you think about this topic, I had talked about some of the polls that have been done and there are polls that show that people have a sense of, at least on some issues of right and wrong, but it doesn't change the fact that things seem to be going downhill.
Well, there's been a decline Steve, of biblical morality. People still feel moral because they change the definition of morality. I mean you think of what we call conventional wisdom in any society, in which things change and with it the difference in a definition. Think of abortion. I mean 50 years ago, abortion was morally wrong. The laws changed. Society changed. Now it's actually considered morally wrong to be against abortion. So, it's a decline of biblical morality that's happened.
So when you see the standard...
It's changing the society because it's evolving, but we're moving away from it.
Oh yeah that's changed so rapidly, especially in our lifetime. What has been considered wrong in past generations, it's the accepted morality; the accepted ethics of life. And people can't recognize at all the difference between right and wrong.
Like you were saying, what's the standard that we measure by. It doesn't seem like we want to look to the Bible, we don't want to face...
But that is the standard that we have to accept. It is the Bible. If we don't accept a standard--and certainly our program and what we're advocating, teaching is the standard is God's Word--You know, you are then free to accept whatever you want. You can set your standards, your morals, your tone, your own laws, if you reject that Bible as the Word of God and then you are off into a no-man's-land. Everything goes. Anything is right; situation ethics, situation morality. And you don't have a standard baseline upon which to judge right and wrong.
It's almost like what's going to clear the mind? What's going to clear the toxic? Well you've got to replace it. You've got to replace it with what's right. And we don't want to measure by the God standard, but God's going to take care of that.
Well part of the reason why is, is that we have a spiritual nature and we need to feel moral. So what happens is if we move away from these standards, biblical standards, God's standards, we have to make up something. So people keep making up morality because they really don't want to change their behavior. When you get down to it: we want to feel moral, we want to feel religious without having to actually be moral. And that's part of the problem.
But we need the right definition...
We need the right definition
And we've got to go to the source...
You've got to have a standard.
You've got to have the standard, and you can judge by other people's standard but the only standard that's going to clear the mind, that's going to clear the air, that's going to give you the right standard of living, the Word of God…
Well like people said years ago, they are Ten Commandments, they are not ten suggestions. And you start right there. You can't get around those ten points of God's eternal spiritual law that define a basis for any just, lasting society and a morality and a way to treat one another in a way that will build a society for the future and also establish a right relationship with God.
Steve I set some time back, watching a focus group discuss religious messaging And it was amazing to me that they did not want to hear anything in religious teaching coming at them about law, commandments, sin, or repentance. They rejected those types of words in the messaging that they were being asked to evaluate and they wanted soft material. They wanted soft teaching.
And these were religious people right?
They were good upstanding citizens paying their taxes and yes, they professed a religion and a spiritual life.
You know Steve, it's not just now. Christianity has given lip-service to the--or many Christians, you can't say everybody--has given a lip-service to the Ten Commandments for a long time. It's just deteriorating. We've been going this direction for a long, long time. We're just giving up the standards set by Jesus Christ and moving away from them.
Yeah, I think in some ways it's easy to look around us and see how we measure up to each other, but how do you get out of that toxic mind? You know how...
You make some decisions.
What do you do?
You stop! You stop looking at the pornography. You stop taking that second glance as you're walking down the grocery aisle or the magazine aisle. You make some better decisions as to...
You've got to eliminate that. You've got to get that out of your life, right?
...Make better decisions as to the programing, the movies, the music, the entertainment that we revel in and really ask some hard questions: Is this promoting a value of life, a quality of life?
I wonder how many times we do. I catch myself saying oh, it's not that bad.
But is that, is that the standard that we're supposed to live by?
We will laugh at material and entertainment that is flouting the law of God and we seek to say that as entertainment and when we do, we are guilty of the very thing that your title of the program here is addressing.
And we compromise.
Well when we eliminate...
We're breathing in those toxic fumes if we don't know it.
That's right. And when you eliminate something, you have to put something in. We have to get back to Christian character. We have to get back to honesty and integrity, and the Ten Commandments, and worshipping God and loving our neighbor. We have to go back to Christian character as the standard instead of just eliminating. It's putting something else in.
These are the hard things that really people don't like to hear. But they begin helping a person walk down that road to eternal life.
And you'll be out of step with society when you do. You will be out of step.
And by being out of step though, you begin to understand the values that God has and that's going to change your life for the better. Because ultimately, it's not a restriction. God knows the best way. He created us. He knows how we should live and He wants the best for us. And today's offers will help you as you try to discover a little bit more about what God has in mind.
Remember they're designed as a study aid so, The Road to Eternal Life , it will help you to overcome that magnetic pull of our surroundings and you can really grasp the truth about our amazing Creator; what He's like, why He wants a relationship with you and what He's planned for all of mankind as well. That's something that you'll want to learn about.
And of course you can also order your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Each issue will help you understand God's purpose for you with practical articles that will make a difference in your life.
Now here's how to order your booklet and subscription. You can read it online, go to BeyondToday.tv. That's where you can download it, or you can even request your own hard-copy or call us! Call us toll free: 1- 888 -886-8632 and you can request both of those publications.
Now don't forget, the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. Why should you come? Because we're going to focus on the good news that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.
Go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars" link. That's where you can register to attend! They are too important to miss, so go to BeyondToday.tv . Click on the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars" link. When you're online, you can also leave us a comment or ask us a question as well.
So when you consider today's topic, evil and sin distort our ability to clearly discern. If you allow it, slowly over time the lines can blur and you can misunderstand how dangerous evil really is. But stand strong! Keep that line between evil and good sharply focused in your own mind.
Remember what you can do. Analyze the influences in your life. Commit yourself to God and to His Word. Reject sin. Reject anything that promotes wrong. And don't copy the behavior of this world. Seek the things that emphasize honesty and truth, fairness and hope. And let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Thanks for joining us today. Don't forget our free offers and be sure to continue to pray, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Steve Myers .Thanks for watching.