The early church began as a small group of Christians who believed in God and the Bible and considered their faith as their highest priority. However, we have sadly observed in recent years a significant decline in morality and a falling away from the awareness and reverence for the Almighty.
When I was young, television would not even show a married couple's bedroom having only one bed, but instead would have separate beds. Many will laugh at this as being ridiculous, but modesty and a sensitivity to purity was at one time very important to the general public.
Having a conscience and spiritual respect for the divine standards of right and wrong were considered normal and accepted as the decency of our culture. It's sad how quickly our modesty became extinct.
God is holy and has always established a standard of holiness for his people, which includes that we should live like he is, or at least as close as we can. In fact, all people are given a sense of right and wrong, along with a built-in ethical code and a moral compass.
We realize the Christian life is a progression of spiritual development. As we learn to repent and realize the importance of letting go of our fallen nature, we can become changed into his image. Our existence is a daily classroom where serious-minded followers of Jesus desire to grow and become stronger in their personal relationship with him and their dedication to his will.
So what happened to our world in such a short period of time? I believe we can agree that all it takes for the arrogance of sin to become dominant is for a generation of individuals who know God's truth to remain silent. Many Christians ignored the danger. It's like the story of the frog sitting in a pan of water that was slowly heated until it boiled him alive without him realizing it.
In just a few years' time, styles of clothing became more provocative, while nudity, sex and vulgar language flooded the world of entertainment. Sin began to push the limits of what was acceptable. As each barrier was broken, it was hardly noticed. This is how wickedness can plant subtle seeds of rebellion into the harvest fields of a society.
Compromise can be deadly and usually begins with a little cheating here and a little lying there, until the conscience becomes calloused to behaviors that were at one time condemned as unacceptable. We should be disturbed that the future has no limit to how far it will go with perversion and debauchery.
Unfortunately, many in the church were not only asleep but also participated in the intentional drifting away from sanctification. Which by the way, 60 years ago was about the time that rebellious music, recreational drug use and relaxed attitudes about humanism were being accepted as normal. Today, most of the world is aggressive about their freedom to live however they want, but God hates sin and never intended for anyone to create a lifestyle that ignores his holy standards.
We are reminded that followers of Jesus are to be different from the world and are called to separate themselves from the love of the world, which is sanctification. Of all the people you know in your personal network, can you tell any difference between the Christians and those who are not? Being spiritually born again through what Christ accomplished on the cross and his resurrection is what determines a child of God from those who have yet to experience this glorious transformation.
Yes, it's true that Christians have the potential to understand biblical values and to be led by the Holy Spirit, but in order to know him personally, we must be close to him. One aspect of our new identity is the sensitivity of our conscience to discern truth from error, as only those who develop an awareness of his presence can comprehend what he is saying. Sadly, many resist this invitation to dwell in this secret place and, as a result of losing their humility, inhibition and innocence, have become hardened to intentional sin.
When anyone can do wrong and not feel guilt and shame, something is terribly wrong within their mind and soul. The only way to joy and peace is to humbly ask God for his forgiveness and for self-discipline as we strive to resist the deceptions and temptations of carnality. "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).
You can read more about the Christian life and order Billy Holland's books for the holidays at billyhollandministries.com.