Jeremiah 5:3, Proverbs 14:34
July 5, 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Twelve score and four years ago fifty six men, representing the Thirteen Colonies, signed a document which ended powerfully: “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence…we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Seven years of war would follow their declaration which lead to American deaths in excess of twenty-five thousand. God blessed their endeavor with victory over the British and in the 244 years since America has been richly blessed and for that we thank God. We have abundant natural resources, favorable weather, productive industry, and scientific advancements that are second to none. We’ve had victory over our enemies, a stable economy, and a standard of living that surpasses most every other nation in the world.
Of course, there have been difficult times that tried men’s souls and our nation: The Civil War, devastating dust storms, the Great Depression, wars, epidemics, civil unrest. There are also things of which we’re rightly ashamed: slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, segregation and Jim Crow laws. These difficult and shameful times are still reflected in our nation, and some always will be. Despite our sins and failings, we give thanks to God today, and every day, for the manifold blessings He’s bestowed on us purely out of His grace, and not due to anything we’ve done.
Contrary to what you may have heard, America wasn’t ever a Christian nation. The Founding Fathers didn’t want a national religion, nor did they want a system of government where the church dictated to the state or the state to the church. They understood the danger to the new nation if either of these were instituted. The Founding Fathers did however recognize that America would only thrive because of God’s intervention and the citizens’ adherence to natural law and Christian morality. While not officially a Christian nation, they understood that we exist by His grace. Over the years though our nation has declared its independence from God.
Now, I’m not talking about the removal of prayer from school, although optional prayer is harmless. Nor am I talking about taking the Ten Commandments or nativity scenes off courthouse lawns. I’m talking about the rejection of the natural law and the God decreed morality that’s essential to the survival of nations. Paul writes in Romans 2, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires… they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.” Because Natural Law is written on the hearts of all we naturally understand that murder, stealing, rape, lying, etc. are wrong. Sadly though, like many of the Romans to whom Paul wrote, people today have hardened their hearts to this natural knowledge. Paul says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” As a result of darkened, foolish hearts, practices, beliefs, and laws that actively harm our nation have entered our nation’s consciousness.
A great thing about being a Christian in America is that we can disagree about certain things and that’s okay. With Christian love we can debate and discuss what weapons are allowed under the Second Amendment, if the welfare system is working, if systemic racism exists, if Trump or Biden or someone else should be president. These topics aren’t addressed in God’s Word and disagreement doesn’t call someone’s faith into question.
There is a myriad of other topics upon which God’s Word is clear and so there can be no disagreement among Christians. Racism and rioting are sins. The sexual exploitation of children and the vulnerable is a sin. The destruction of businesses and careers over political disagreements is sinful. Abortion and Physician Assisted Suicide for any purpose, are sins. The destruction of the family through divorce and unwed pregnancy are sins. Redefining God’s institution of marriage as between one man and one woman to include same sex marriage, polygamy, and sex outside of marriage is a sin. Fathers and mothers who neglect their parental responsibilities – physical and spiritual – are sinning. Failure to help the poor and downtrodden is sinning. I know there are Christians who disagree with some of what I just said and some people leave churches because they don’t like what they hear. However, these disagreements aren’t with churches or congregations, they’re disagreements with God. And where people declare their independence from God, ignore that law written on their hearts, and ignore what’s written in His book, bad things happen.
King Solomon addresses this in Proverbs 14: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Righteous living leads to blessings. Sin brings shame, societal problems, and individual challenges to a nation. When the nation of Israel traded righteousness for sin, Jeremiah says to God, “O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You’ve struck them down, but they felt no anguish; you’ve consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They’ve made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent.” The chosen people of God had been warned repeatedly, then disciplined and chastised by the Lord, but they refused to listen. Our nation has also been warned and disciplined. God looks for faith and truth and it’s scarcely found, and sad to say, as we continue away from the Lord, it’s only going to get worse. All the great empires, Rome, Babylon, Greece, disintegrated and disappeared when they exchanged natural law and morality for sin and hedonism.
Now I’m fairly certain that some of you are thinking, “Preach Pastor! Let the sinners have it! Amen!” and you know what, I am! But it’s not just the sinners out there who need to hear my words, it’s you sinners in here. God calls each of you to repentance: for your racism, your endorsement of sexual behavior that is contrary to God’s intentions, for exploiting others through the use of pornography. Repent of your indirect support of abortion, of not teaching your children about God, of not being good stewards of your blessings from God. Like Paul, we can’t figure out why we commit some of the sins we do. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Other sins we kind of enjoy, or we ignore, or we don’t think are really sins. We may not like to hear it, but God is talking about our sins when He says we’ve hardened our hearts and not listened to His discipline and His Word. And as the hardening of our arteries can lead to death, so also can hardening our hearts to His Word. It will lead to the death of a nation, more seriously, it might be the death of your soul.
As you heard a minute ago, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” As we lived generally righteously under God’s law as a nation, we were exalted. We were a bright beacon to the world. In many ways, this is no longer true – crime is rampant in many cities, our leaders have failed us, in many black neighborhoods the educational system is sorely lacking, and the welfare system in America is deeply flawed. Our nation has rejected righteous living and God’s disciplining it that it would restore adherence to His natural law.
It should go without saying that when Christians live righteously under God’s law, we’re exalted by God. This doesn’t mean that life will be all rosy! Rather, it means that that you’re a witness to the glory of God and He uses the events of your life to bless you and bless others. We’re beacons in a dark world, lights showing people the Light of the World. Peter says, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Even when Christians are hated, when Jesus returns, everyone will praise them for how they, by God’s grace, lived their lives.
Most importantly, to be exalted by God means that your myriad of sins are forgiven. The sins you know, the sins you don’t know, the sins you commit accidentally, the ones you commit wantonly. To live righteously is more than to live a good life, it means that God has declared you righteous, forgiven, loved. Christ’s perfect holy righteousness has been given to you. You’re righteous not because of the things you do but the things that Jesus did. He calls you out of what Paul calls wretchedness and the body of death! We can’t make ourselves righteous with God no matter how hard we try! It’s through Christ that we’re made righteous and then by His power, we live righteously, demonstrating our faith through our interactions with others.
Since we’re declared righteous, forgiven, and exalted we can boldly witness to our neighbors and nation. We forcibly voice the truth that the sin of our nation is its shame. It’s not enough to think that abortion is wrong, we must actively speak out against it. Write our congress members and help those who find themselves with an unplanned or an unwanted pregnancy to choose life. It’s not enough to control our own racist thoughts, we need to speak up when people use language that is racist. We need to understand how the family is being redefined in America and why this is harmful to families and our nation. We need to donate time and money to those who need it. We need to give our tithes and offerings that the Church can continue its ministry. You don’t do these things because you feel guilty, or at least you shouldn’t. You do these things because you’re Christian, and it’s what Christians do. We want unbelievers to wonder why we do these things. We are voices to a sinful nation so that we would point people to God and to the blessings that come from living as a Christian nation.
For 244 years, God has richly blessed America. America hasn’t acknowledged it or appreciated it for a long time. It’s time for us to speak the Word of God – to the hardhearted and the believer. It’s time to speak whether people listen or not. It’s time to call people to repentance and repent ourselves of declaring independence from God. It’s time to thank God for the blessings He has given our nation, and more importantly that which He gives to all believers – forgiveness that leads to eternal life.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen