Last time we began to point out to you how much indeed we are the children of our age.
Our flesh, we pointed out, is not simply like the flesh of this world, it is a part of that world. It is no different from the flesh of the unregenerated, and in itself it has all the potential of evil that the world has. We do not always have the same occasion and opportunity to sin. Many of the ungodly have little opportunity to sin compared with others. Even Adam in Paradise after he fell had not the same opportunity that you and I have today. We have not only many more means, but we also live in a far more complex world. Adam for a long time could not commit adultery and never came to the point where he had to honor the earthly authorities that were above him. There simply were no authorities over him. All honor had to be ascribed to him by Eve, Cain, Abel and all his grandsons and great-grandchildren. He did not have the opportunity to evade the income tax laws or any other forms of taxation.
But how things have changed today!
We have such an abundance of things wherewith to sin against God and so many situations in which we can practice our evil and work out the evil dictates of our hearts and minds. Not only is this so with the worldly entertainment of which we spoke last time, and which is so easy for us to reach even while sitting comfortably at home in our living room; but there are also so many other areas in which we have such abundant opportunity to follow the bent of our evil lusts and wicked hearts. We wish at this time to point out several other instances of the fact that we are children of our age in that we walk in its sins, and even that we try to defend these evils of our age. For that is the tragedy of it. Not only do we do the things but we find delight in them that do them. As Paul writes to the church at Rome, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the sa same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” Romans 1:32.
It is thus so sadly true, even though it is often stated somewhat humorously, that whereas in another age the missionaries found it their task and calling to tell the heathen to put off their paint and to put on more clothing, today the heathen can point to our lack of modest clothing and ridicule our painted faces. Not only must the lips be an unnatural bloody red or other unnatural hue but there must be green on the eyelids and delicate shades of purple in the corners of the eyes. The toenails even must come in for their bloody red or green or blue decorations. And this in the church! Well, the age does it and being children of the age, we do it too. But spiritual strangers in this earth whose bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost one would never imagine us to be. O, we do not want to be a peculiar people even though God through the mouth of Peter declares that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people” that we should show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, I Peter 2:9. We must not be different from the age in which we live. Our flesh which is part of that world wants to keep up with the world in all its fashions, its customs and habits. It is so much easier and more, pleasant to drift with the tide. That we are, by God’s grace, children of the eternal age, we are so reluctant to display. We wish to have the world consider us to be one with them.
And the same thing, of course, may be said of our clothing as we are children of our age. No, we do not mean the fabrics as such. In our age we have, indeed, some wonderful fabrics which the children of former ages never knew. We have our nylon and our dacron together with a whole array of wonderful synthetics that serve us so wonderfully in many ways. Nylon has all but caused our silk to disappear. And in our age we have grown up to accept it in the place and to like it for our clothing purposes. And dacron which sheds its wrinkles so easily and keeps such a fine press for us for so long a time is also well received and finds a welcome place in our clothing needs. Children we are who have access to many of these wonderful things.
However it is not these things from that point of view that we have in mind. Nor is it simply style and design of the clothing of this age that interests us at the moment. To be sure these styles differ from those of ages gone by. Many a laugh, or at least much amusement, can be had by looking at the styles of clothing in ages that are past. Those high button shoes compared with our slim and graceful low-cut shoes of today are to us in this age ridiculous. And our loud colored shirts with their large figures are a far cry from the subdued and stiff shirts of long ago. And so it is with dresses and suits, not to say anything about ladies’ hats. What a difference! Yet about all this we do not write even though as far as these things are also concerned we are children of our age and would not think of going back to those styles! Nor would we advocate it and call it wrong on our part to dress differently than our great-grandparents did.
It is that clothing and those styles that have ethical and somewhat humorously, that whereas in another age the spiritual significance. And so much of it today does exactly have such moral and ethical meaning. Much of it is designed with corrupt morals in mind. Much of it is bold and daring in its feeding of the lust of the flesh and glorification of uncleanness. Need we even mention the matter of swimming suits? Or perhaps the lack of them is a better way to put it. Contrast them with the swimming suits of ages gone by. And then you may giggle or chuckle to see these hideous, styleless garments of yesteryear. But you will have to admit that they were worn and designed with quite the opposite ethical motive from that which hatched the modern batch of peek-a boo wear that leaves very little to the imagination.
O, you say, but we get so accustomed to such things that we are not affected by them the way children of ages past would have been. It is such a common thing today that it no longer offends. And we find other ways to try to defend it. Shame on us. Why should we try to deceive ourselves? What greater folly is there than to practice self-deception? Is it because we are so accustomed to these things and they are so commonplace that we live in such an adulterous age? Is it so that by making sin a more common thing we will no longer be tempted by sin? Where do you read that in the Holy Scriptures? O, wretched children of our age that we are, we try to defend all this wickedness and find pleasure in those that commit it.
And we could continue and call your attention to other spheres of our lives wherein it becomes very plain that we are children of the age in which we live. It is an age of disrespect for the authorities, an age when man clamors for freedom and then he means freedom to do as he pleases and away with all laws and restraints. That is, away with all laws and restraints for himself, but let there be laws and restraints for his protection. The women clamor for a place on the level with man. They must be his equal in every sphere and domain where God has elevated the man above her. But she will still feel insulted if you do not treat her as a lady. She will claim to be able to do a man’s day of work and take his place in the office, in the shop and in almost every department of life. But then when weary men come home from work, and the bus or commuter train is crowded, she will expect you to forget that she is your equal and that she should be given a seat. The days of yore when this was done, when a man tipped his hat in politeness and removed it in the elevator is gone. The woman has clamored for a place equal to man, and she is getting it in ways that have their sting.
But also as far as government is concerned. There is not that honor of the authorities that God demands in His Word and that could be seen in ages past. No, we must have freedom of expression and we must be given permission to make any derogatory remarks we please about those through whom God is pleased to rule us. And we may freely poison the minds of our children against the God-given authorities, even though the thing comes back on our own heads so that we find our children growing in disrespect also for us. Such is the spirit of the age in which we live. And as children of that age our flesh approves of all this and seeks it in the slogan “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Music and painting also express this lawlessness. The rhythm and harmony must be free from the restraint of the laws of music as man has always known them to be. Suggestive syncopation and delirious dissonance which to write a man must be drunken and to play requires also a spirit of alcohol and of devilishness, is what this age listens to in order to “soothe” its morally perverted nerves. And yet you hear it in the homes of God’s people! Do you? Or is it in the homes of those who profess to be God’s people? Can the new man in Christ, can that which is born from above and is a citizen in the kingdom of ethical perfection enjoy that stuff? Would you find Enoch and Elijah, Peter and Paul carrying transistor radios along with them to hear that banging and clanging and jumpy, off-beat and off-color excuse for music? And so is this age corrupted in these things that a pocket radio, a portable radio is necessary to insure this scrapping, hissing, perverted sound every waking hour of men in this age. And our flesh will find a good word for it also.
Pleasure mad, fun crazy and amusement minded is the age in which we live. Let the Church of God suffer want, let it be financially in difficult straits, but my money must be put aside for these things of the flesh. A long and expensive vacation I must take, because that is the thing that is done in this age. In that too we must keep up with the Joneses; no, I must keep ahead of them. It is too bad that the cause of Christ has to take less than I am willing to spend on that vacation, on my sports, for my smoking pleasure, for my weekly bowling, my concert tickets or football game expense. Too bad that I do not have anything left for the church and that the Church will have to be satisfied with what I might have left after I have satisfied my flesh; but that is exactly what my flesh as part of the evil world in which we live says.
O, wretched children of this age, take stock of yourselves. Stand foursquare before the Word of God. In His fear do a little self-examination and take good inventory. We ARE children of our age. But let it not stop there. Let us resolve by God’s grace to fight this evil and to walk as children of light, imitators of God, children renewed after the image of Christ. And let us by all means cease trying to defend all this corruption. Instead let us begin to condemn it and fight it.