In considering just a few of the more recent leading headlines of the evening news and local newspapers, it’s not hard to understand the scriptural assessment of the age of man as, “…a crooked and depraved generation.” Philippians 2:15 Innocent people still being killed in war-torn areas around the world and in our streets here at home; deceit and cheating in our schools, corporate offices and financial institutions; rampant promiscuity throughout society – inflicting heartache and disease – among the very young up to and including the old enough to know better. The coarsening of our society finding expression not only in how we speak and treat one another individually but in how we perceive the value of people in general; both the very young and old too often discounted, overlooked and ignored. A pivotal expression of our lack of concern revealed in the acceptance by some of abortion and euthanasia as “quality control” methods for our growing population.

All of which highlights the difficulties we face living in a society that still seeks to clothe itself with the mantle of Christianity, desperately yearning for the blessings of a God we often deny even exists – or at the very least denying him the right to expect anything from us. Scripture cautioning us that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 An increasingly appropriate description of so many today found in Is. 5:21, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” Paul correctly characterizing the hearts of many when he wrote, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory (and wisdom) of the immortal God for images (or their own imaginary solutions) …exchang(ing) the truth of God for a lie,…” Romans 1:22,23 & 25

Paul then challenging the self-righteous people of his day: “If you know (God’s) will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish… because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth… do you not teach yourself?” They were doing the very things they presumed to tell others not to do; lamenting that God is discredited and his name blasphemed among unbelievers as a result of contradictory behavior. (Romans 2:18-24) The real problem arising from the fact that we all “fall short of the glory of God”. (Romans 3:23) Paul identifying this tendency as a result of our being weak in our natural selves (Romans 6:19), all of us possessing or being possessed by a sin nature – or an inclination to sin. (Romans 8:4-8)

Jesus said that a good man will practice goodness as a result of what is stored in his heart, conversely an evil man will practice evil because of the evil stored in his. (Matthew 12:34,35) Proverbs giving us a key to making right choices, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil;…” Proverbs 8:13 This theme expanded upon with the declaration, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” Psalm 111:10 Fearing the consequences of disobeying or disappointing a God whose, “…eyes are too pure to look on evil; (who) cannot tolerate wrong.” Habakkuk 1:13 A God who none-the-less did everything within his power to see us saved, loved and provided for. Scripture explaining how, “A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,…” While, “He who seeks good finds goodwill,…” Proverbs 11:23 & 27 The Bible further instructing us, “…to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Romans 16:19 As once we have acquired that discernment we are expected to be actively involved in doing what is right (James 1:22), while avoiding, “…every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22

A common theme throughout scripture is that God hates, “…pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Proverbs 8:13 “…those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Is. 5:20 Promising to, “…punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins… (putting) an end to the arrogance of the haughty and (humbling) the pride of the ruthless.” Is. 13:11 Which applies to us all! For we are all susceptible to the temptation to strike back and to manipulate conditions and people to our own advantage; we all have the capacity to be as evil as anyone else who has ignored the pain of others, discounted their needs, took what they wanted regardless of the consequences, done what they pleased in spite of the circumstances. But for the grace of God we could all be robbers, rapists, drunken brawlers or murderers. Each of us would be lost in transgression and sin, to which we used to fall prey and of which we are still tempted by, “… gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” Ephesians 2:1-3Yet, as a result of God’s grace, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature.” Galatians 5:24 Negating its influence on our lives (Galatians 5:19,20) by bearing the fruit of God’s Spirit. (Galatians 5:22,23)

Let’s not grow tired of the battle to remain, “…without fault in (this) wicked and depraved generation,…”, continuing to shine like beacons of “…stars in the universe as (we) hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:15,16 “…declar(ing) the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (See also Ephesians 5:8-10)