LCN Article
The Master of Misdirection

September / October 2018

Gerald E. Weston

Every year, it seems the World Cup is the biggest show on earth. Flags from many nations fly from automobiles and porches in multicultural countries such as England and Canada. We all love the country of our heritage, or at least most of us do, but that is changing in the United States. Anarchist professors have made significant inroads in universities and pump into the minds of naïve students the “evils” of the country’s founding principles. Sadly, most cable news networks share the same leftist bent and proclaim America’s “sins” to the world—based, of course, on their editorial boards’ ideas of “sin.” Our politicians do a fine job of that, as well, all on their own.

The United States is not alone in its changing values. Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are seeing their traditional principles turned upside down, and their people—especially their youth—turned increasingly against their own heritage. However, it would appear that there is still resistance, a cultural war in the United States and the United Kingdom, whereas that conflict appears to be lost in other countries.

Satan is a master of the art of divide and conquer, and he is also a master at stirring up emotions to suit his plans. Americans were deeply affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Churches saw a surge in attendance for a few weeks and many prayers were offered, but patriotism quickly proved itself a poor substitute for repentance, and since then America has been deeply divided. On one side are promoters of political correctness, some of whom despise American values. On the other are those who wrap themselves in their patriotism and in the United States Constitution and its founding principles. Many of the latter group seek a country that once again recognizes God, family, and certain standards of behavior. It is an emotional war, and this is where we must be on guard.

Were We Ever a "Christian Nation"?

The devil who directs the course of this world does not care what side we are on as long as he can use this cultural war to stir us up emotionally to "miss the mark." The founding fathers of the United States were men of faith, as imperfect as they were. They looked to the Bible as a guiding light, and this influenced the way they wrote America's founding documents. This is a matter of history, in spite of the way in which many institutions of higher learning, politicians, and pundits wish to rewrite that history. But there is a danger here for those who know the truth of Scripture. While man-made documents may have been influenced to some degree by biblical values, they are not the Bible. The United States Constitution is not found in the Bible—nor is the English Bill of Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights, or any other national document.

Many biblical principles guided English common law, and that has influenced the kind of nations we find in the English-speaking world, but let us not get caught up in the politics of it all. While founded upon many biblical principles, the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the other English-speaking nations are not and never have been Christian nations in the real sense. Some of America's leaders were deists, for example, who believed in a higher power but did not believe in a personal God who revealed Himself in the pages of the Bible. Yes, in previous generations many citizens read the Bible daily, but did they really understand it? And did they truly obey it as God intended?

Or did they accept a blasphemous Trinitarian god? Did they refuse to embrace the Bible's clear commands to observe the fourth commandment to remember the seventh-day Sabbath? History shows that a few did not, but most did. Did they sincerely but ignorantly replace these God-given festivals with pagan days filled with heathen practices, contrary to God's instructions found in Deuteronomy 12:29–32? Most accepted the Catholic and Protestant doctrines of the immortal soul and of heaven and hell. Some subscribed to Luther's "faith alone" theology and the idea that we need not keep the law, while others believed in penance instead of repentance.

America, as other Israelite countries, wore the façade of Christianity, but maintained the heart of passive rebellion against our Creator. We chose that in which God does not delight (Isaiah 66:1–3). However, in recent years, our Israelite nations have become aggressively and actively hostile to our Creator. Shockingly, even some who lobby to preserve monuments containing the Ten Commandments are the first to declare that Jesus "freed" us from having to keep those same commandments!

Misdirected Passion and Misplaced Hope

So, what is the point? We must not allow ourselves to be caught up in the emotions of temporary political events. This is difficult to do. When one side of the culture war raging around us is seemingly on the wrong side of every moral (biblical) issue, it is hard to stay neutral—and, in fact, we ought not stay neutral on the issues themselves. The Church will continue to speak out against the "politically correct" doctrines being shoved down our throats. Abortion, assisted suicide and the LGBTQA+ movement are not of God. Concerning that last item, while I have left off a number of letters sometimes used in this acronym to describe various perversions, we must not pass over the "A." It stands for allies—those who may not be personally involved in these behaviors, but who sympathize with and support such individuals in their delusions (Romans 1:18–32).

But there is more to this culture war than biblical morality. Some of our members have allowed themselves to become passionate about various causes that also "miss the mark." The god of this world loves it when he misdirects our passions.

Some become involved in the politics of this world. The pull is understandable. It's tempting. It's easy to do. Without a doubt, judges and politicians do make a difference one way or the other. It is easy to become passionate over who we think will be better for our particular country, but it is interesting that even within the Church of God there are differences of opinion as to who will serve best.

We think we know best, but humans will disappoint us, and we do not know what God knows. He alone knows who will best serve His purposes. We are to place our hope in God and His word, not in men or in man-made documents.

American, But Not Biblical

The Constitution of the United States is virtually revered by some citizens. While it is a remarkable document put together by men with great foresight, we must put it in perspective. It is not the Bible and it does not always agree with the Bible.

For example, the Bible says nothing about "the right to bear arms." Nor does it promote "free speech" in the way that right is exercised in America and other Western nations. These political guarantees may or may not be laudable in a carnal world, but they will not be a part of tomorrow's world after Christ returns.

Whether guns will exist for hunting or recreation after Christ's return is something we could debate from now until He is here, but to what purpose? What we do know is that the intent of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had nothing to do with hunting or target practice. According to many scholars, it exists to ensure that the citizenry has the ability to rise up against oppressive rulers. Is this what a true follower of Christ ought to do? Rising up to overthrow the ruler usually does not end well, and it will certainly not be tolerated under the government of God. In tomorrow's world, guns and other weapons will not be used for personal protection, for war, or for insurrection (Micah 4:3; Isaiah 2:1–4).

We often think of "free speech" as being on the same level as a biblical command, but is it? We know that it is good for those of us who believe the truth found in the Bible. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and similar free-speech views guaranteed in other Western democracies have served us well, and we are grateful for this guarantee in today's world. I even wrote an article about its importance for the July-August Tomorrow's World magazine. But free speech is a double-edged sword and is often used for evil. The word of God condemns some expressions of free speech that are protected by the First Amendment—for example: "You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people" (Exodus 22:28). The Apostle Paul understood this as a New Testament command in Acts 23:5, where he quoted from Exodus and said, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people." Sadly, many of us get caught up in the politics and emotions of this cultural war and are guilty of violating this command.

We also know that there will be no freedom to promote pornography or perverse behaviors. Scripture shows that the promotion of foreign religions and gods is not something the one true God countenances (Leviticus 18:20–22). Individuals will be corrected speedily—probably not for every little mistake, but certainly from going too far astray (Isaiah 30:20–21).

Clearly, the Constitution and the Bible are not the same.

Faithful Ambassadors, Not Partisan Participants

We logically hope and pray for judges who will support our freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. It is difficult to see how we can carry out our duties without these freedoms, but does that mean we ought to "get out the vote" to make sure the "right party" stays in power, or comes into power, in order to preserve them? Some see us as foolish not to do so.

Nevertheless, none of us knows exactly how God will work out His plan. It may be that the very opposite of what we think is best will be His very means of bringing the Church to prominence to give a final warning message. Proverbs 14:12 warns us, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." Isaiah 55:8–9 instructs us, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" We know that God reveals His ways and thoughts to us through His Spirit that is in us, but He does so as we study and align our thinking with His word (1 Corinthians 2:9–12; 2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). We also know that "the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men" (Daniel 4:17). It will serve us well to remember these principles!

We are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. An ambassador certainly has an opinion on events taking place in the country in which he serves, but he does not get involved in the politics of that country. We must be faithful ambassadors, fulfilling that role (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are not here to promote American values, Australian values, Canadian values, or any other national values. We are here to promote God's values! We each appreciate and absorb our own national culture—such as its foods, languages, and arts—but we participate in and promote our culture's values and principles only to the extent that they agree with God's values and principles. And we do not join in worldly politics.

Satan is very clever, and his influence shows up too often in our thinking, as it did in Peter's. When Jesus informed His disciples that He would "suffer many things from the chief priests and scribes, and be killed," Peter took Him aside and protested that he would not allow such a thing (Matthew 16:21–22). Jesus' response is instructive. "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men" (v. 23). Such a strong rebuke may seem unwarranted to our fleshly minds—after all, Peter was willing to fight to protect Jesus. The passionate apostle did not, however, understand the greater picture.

Let us never forget that we are to be in this world, but not of it (John 17:15). Let us learn to evaluate properly the ideas swirling around us every day. And let us remember Paul's admonition to those at Corinth: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).