We live in a time when the fastest-growing religion is no religion at all. Its primary doctrine can be summarized in one succinct phrase: “This is my truth!” Secular humanism and “me-ism” are the steady downbeats of its signature chorus line. It has all the overtones of a religious movement with a fervent zeal of unwavering allegiance. Though “pushing the envelope” faster and farther than ever it seems, its “gospel of self” is as old as the Garden of Eden.
Meanwhile, those who trust in the intervening God of the Bible are steadily declining. We see it in America, though “In God We Trust” is minted on our coins. In startling contrast to “God Bless America” as a past resounding hymn of national praise, we now have this year’s music industry’s Grammy Awards featuring a major stage production of a song titled “Unholy” with full satanic regalia and wardrobe.
Make no mistake, the gauntlet has been thrown down before God Almighty and the disciples of Jesus Christ. Not only by this singular event, but also in pervasive mass indoctrination by innumerable knocks on the door by social media targeting young and moldable minds and, yes, you. What is a person of faith and one who takes God at His Word to do?
For such a time as now!
It’s wakeup time in America and around this world as to the accelerated takeover of the steering wheel of civilization by the anti-God shock troops. And don’t think that you or your loved ones are immune to this ever-encroaching onslaught of dark forces. This is not simply a passing phase! It is “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14)—as now!—that personal spiritual awareness, resolve, and protection of mind and heart are essential at every turn. It is time to be counted as one who continuously responds to Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19; John 21:22).
Let’s consider a specific “Follow Me” action item given by our Master in what’s commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). He instructs us to include these elements in our prayers: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts [of sin], as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (emphasis added throughout).
Notice that between this model prayer’s bookends of praise is a longing plea for deliverance from the evil one. Jesus was plainly stating that evil exists, and He elsewhere identifies its founding father as Satan the devil (John 8:44). The same One who proclaimed, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18) is imploring us, His disciples, to clearly focus on Satan’s present reality and take appropriate daily spiritual safeguards. Simply put: Jesus’ prayer outline reminds us we are at war! We will come to see at the end of this column that He would practice what He preached.
Know God’s foe and yours
Why are Jesus’ words so vital and instructive? With scriptural revelation we are not left to play a blindfolded game of “pin the tail on the serpent” (see Genesis 3:4; Revelation 12:9). He is revealed to be “the god of this age” who has blinded humanity from the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). He’s “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). In chameleonlike manner he seems an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) but is revealed as an “adversary . . . a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
This adversary and his accomplices work to keep us unaware of their spiritual assaults, but Scripture reveals our constant struggle: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Satan usually avoids exposure as part of his efforts to lead people to dismiss the spirit realm, including God, contributing to a moral vacuum. We see the results in Romans 1:21-23: “. . . Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man . . .”
Does this not describe the people of our world today, which over the past decade has shredded any semblance of God-ordained society? And in this age of “selfies” have made themselves their own little gods? Make no mistake, the spirit behind this is one of domination, intimidation and control—the ultimate cancel culture dedicated to destroying God’s special creation made in His image and destined to ultimately be made in the spiritual image of His Son, the “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Please know my concern for each of you who has read my columns over the past 25 years. If this column is heavy and appears “dark” in nature, that’s because the times demand it. God’s servants are to blow a sound of alarm and wake people up. This alert is not just for the world at large, but for those disciples of Christ who naively think they can just glide forward on autopilot or cruise control through the ungodliness that is metastasizing all around us. God’s Word exhorts each of us, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Why is this so important? Because ultimately we are responsible for our actions. We can be “led into temptation,” but we alone fill in the blank of yes or no in succumbing to or rejecting Satan’s influence. We cannot use the old catchphrase of comedian Flip Wilson, “The devil made me do it!”
The light of hope conquers darkness
In drawing to a close for now, allow me to share some specific rays of light and hope to anchor us until next we meet.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sent from above, is “life, and the life was the light of men . . . the light shines in the darkness . . .” (John 1:4-5). So we may truly see.
Let us gain and hold onto the ultimate perspective: This Light and our Heavenly Father are uncreated, having existed forever (Isaiah 57:15; 1 Timothy 6:16), whereas Satan originated as a created spiritual being and became a traitor to the Kingdom of God (see Ezekiel 28:14-15). Guess who ultimately triumphs? This is not rocket science. We are dealing with two different spheres of existence, and God and Christ are omnipotent in this regard.
One of the specific reasons Jesus was sent to the earth was to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus was not simply a teacher going around uttering clever and witty parables. He was sent to put Satan out of business. On the altar of Golgotha the victory was won, and now only the details need to be worked out. And one matter that’s clear is that at Jesus’ second coming Satan will be crushed (Romans 16:20).
But that glorious triumph is then. What about now for those striving to heed Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” in an increasingly darkening society? On the last night of His human life, Jesus in personally praying to His Father for us (John 17:20) said this: “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (verse 15).
He was practicing in His prayer what He had initially preached to the disciples about seeking our deliverance from the evil one. His loving consistency towards us is overwhelming. His committal prayer for our spiritual protection was not fear-based, but offered in faith-filled confidence that His Father, also our Father, would open our eyes regarding the foe of His Kingdom, guard our hearts and strengthen our resolve to put nothing before Him.
Here, then, is one simple “Follow Me” action item for us to embrace and express to the only One who can empower us for the journey yet ahead. Seek the light, praying to God for help and deliverance. Start today; start now. And as you do, please pray as well, “Your kingdom come!”