The Good Old Days

It’s a common practice for people to remember the past in way that makes it seem like there were no (or at least far fewer) problems in the past. Frequently this is in reference to our society and culture and how it impacts our ability to serve God. In connection with this thought, Christians sometimes grumble about how hard it is to serve God in our current society and culture. We are often heard to long for “the good old days” when serving the Lord was easier.
For a few moments, let’s consider some of the environments and cultures where people had to remain faithful to God and see if we still think ours is so bad.

Would we rather serve the Lord…

• In the days of Noah, when only eight people (1 Peter 3:10) in the whole world could be convinced to follow God?

• In society of Sodom and Gomorrah, where not even ten righteous people (Genesis 18:23-26…32…19:24-25) could be found to save the city?

• In Israel, during the time of judges, when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes?” (Judges 17:6, 21:25)

• In the first century, when people were persecuted and killed for their faith in Christ? (Acts 7:57-60, 9:1-2; 22:3-5)

• In the first century when there was no readily available printed Bibles to study and know the whole revelation of God?

• In the first century when visiting other churches and could mean days of walking just to get to the nearest congregation?

• In our recent past, before telephones and computers connected brethren to be able to communicate with one another and encourage one another, even from thousands of miles away?

• In our recent past where many brethren, even in this country met without air conditioning or had to travel to church in vehicles without air conditioning? Or, in countries today, where the same is true?

• In countries today (and in times past in this country) where people don’t have readily available transportation and must walk for miles to worship with God’s people?

• In the recent past when Bibles and bible study tools were not readily available at your fingertips on your computer or your phone?

• Today, in other countries, where Christians must worship in secret for fear of being thrown into prison or killed for their faith?

So, the real question is not whether we have it worse than others. Yes, our society is evil and getting worse. But, Read Romans 1-2 and ask yourself if you think our society is any worse than theirs. Theirs was a society where immorality was not only present, but in many cases part of their idolatrous worship.

The real question is whether we are taking advantage of the opportunities God has given us in this day age and in this society. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14-30) the one-talent servant was condemned because he failed to use the opportunity he had to serve the master and be productive. He wasn’t condemned for his results, but for his lack of effort. Will or excuses of an evil society be any more well received than his excuse that he knew the master was a hard man?

Today is the day that we have. This is the society we live in where have the opportunity to bring glory to God by our service. Will we waste it wishing for days that were not better, just different?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

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It Was Very Good

There is a phrase that occurs over and over in Genesis 1 as God is creating the world: “And God saw that it was good.” In fact he makes this statement every day of creation (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). And then, as if each of those statements weren’t enough to tell us how good God’s creation was, He sums it up with statement in vs. 31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

So, as it originally existed, as God created it, everything was very good. Adam and Eve had access to the Tree of Life. But, something went horribly wrong.  God had instructed Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16-17).  What happened next would change the world forever:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; “but of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. {Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV}

Along with many other consequences, Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden and separated from the Tree of Life. (Gen. 3:14-24)

How do people end up giving up what is “very good” and accept the death, destruction, and heartache that comes with sin?

First, notice that Satan is a good “salesman.” Satan didn’t come to Eve and remind her of the consequences of disobeying God. He laced his words with a little bit of truth. Adam and Eve did not physically die the instant they ate the fruit. And, they did gain knowledge that they previously didn’t have. I am always amused at the depictions of Satan in the movies or on TV. He shows up, announces who he is and offers reward in exchange for someone’s soul. While it is true that there are people would would be swayed by such an offer, Satan is far more subtle and dangerous. Another instance when the Bible records that Satan appeared and was known is when he tempted Jesus. We will reference Matthew’s account (Matthew 4). In his first two attempts, he challenges Jesus to prove His deity (“If you are the Son of God…”). However, after Jesus twice rebuffed Satan’s temptations with scripture, Satan resorted to quoting scripture (vs. 6). Jesus was not fooled and easily answered Satan’s misuse of God’s word. In Mat. 7:15-20, Jesus warns of false prophets as “ravenous wolves” dressed up “sheep’s clothing.” The apostle Paul issues a similar warning in 2 Cor. 11:12-15 warns that since Satan passes himself off as angel of light, “it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.” So, let us beware, just because someone is dressed up a preacher, or claims to be messenger of God does not mean that they are teaching the truth. Satan may very well be using them to draw men away from the true message of God, just as he deceived Eve.

However, let us notice something else. While Satan was clearly attempting to deceive, Eve was open to the idea. First, in her quote of God’s command she leaves out the concept of “freely” eat. That is, they had an abundance to eat. Secondly, she states something that isn’t recorded in Genesis 2. She states that they are not allowed to “touch it.” But, even more importantly, notice her reaction to the serpent. She doesn’t respond by saying, “God said, ‘No.’ So, I won’t eat it.” Instead it says, “…the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make [one] wise.” Instead of heeding God’s warning, she looked at the fruit from the standpoint of her desires. It reminds of the warning of John in 1 John 2:15-17:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The real problem with sin is that we allow our desires to override the will of God. Wasn’t this the problem with the Pharisees who were looking for an excuse to divorce their wives to satisfy their lusts (Mat. 5:27-28)? How often today to people ignore the clear teaching of scripture, not because it is hard to understand, but because they want to fulfill their own desires? There may be no better demonstration of this principle than Rom. 1:18-32. The passage clearly states that they intentionally rejected God. Note: “… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God … exchanged the truth of God for the lie … they did not like to retain God in their knowledge … haters of God … who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” And why did they reject God? Consider: “… Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts … God gave them up to vile passions … men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another … God gave them over to a debased mind.” They rejected God because they wanted to fulfill their own lusts.

Today, we see both of aspects in our world. There are many who teach things contrary to the will of God trying to undermine the impact of consequences of God’s judgment. Some outright try to say that “science” eliminates the need for God. Others try to minimize the moral impact of God in their lives while still trying to call them Christians. There are several ways they attempt to accomplish this, including: twisting God’s word by taking passages out of context, claiming that the text has been corrupted over the years, or claiming that the commands of the Bible were not intended for our generation and that God’s word has changed over the years to keep up with a changing world. None of these represent the true nature of God’s will which has never changed and has been preserved for all time.

But, the real problem is that individuals today are looking to justify their ungodly behavior. Whether it is divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, living the party life, or just not being held to strong moral standard, people simply want to be left alone to do their own thing, but feel good about themselves while doing it. Let us examine ourselves and make sure we are not letting our own desires prevent us from hearing the will of God.

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)