Others will write about it. In this issue of the Standard Bearer there will, no doubt, be columns written about it. We are citizens of this nation, even though the new man has his citizenship in heaven, according to Philippians 3:20. That, by the way, is the proper translation.
But what happened November 22 in Dallas, Texas happened in our country and to our nation. We lost a President through an assassin’s bullet. Agree with his religion or not, subscribe to his political policies or not, he was our president and the president of our children. And the Word of God came to us in respect to him, “Let every soul be subject unto higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God . . . Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Romans 13:1, 7.
But to avoid all duplication, we will write on a very specific aspect of this cold blooded murder. Standing in His fear we will look with the eye of faith and turn to the Word of God for an explanation of what has taken place. And we will pray for grace to continue the rest of our pilgrimage in His fear. Then we will not fear what man can do unto us. We will walk triumphantly in the confidence that all things work together for our good, because we are the called according to God’s sovereign purpose of election and by His grace love Him.
Let us consider, first of all, then, that sin is rebellion against the living God. All sin, each and every sin, whether of omission or commission, whether of thought, word or deed, is rebellion against God. It is going our own sweet way, an act of opposing Him in His righteous and holy way. Sin is never an act of His fear. Sin means that we do not stand in awe of Him as the God that He is. And sin likewise is an act in which we dare to defy the living God. In sin we are bold and haughty, proud and conceited. And in sin we are moved by and controlled by the lie.
And what is the lie? “Ye shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The he is that it pays to sin; that we can get away with sin; that it is to our advantage to sin. The lie is that Jehovah is not God and need not be served. Under that lie we are born. It has dominion over us from our first breath of life. By nature we all are the fools who say that there is no God. And take note that the psalmist says that the fool says this in his heart. We may speak of God with our lips. We may give lip service to Him and speak frequently of Him or even to Him. When we get into trouble, we will cry to Him. There are no atheists in the foxholes, we were told in that last world war. And yet, by nature, in the heart we deny Him; we behave as though He does not exist. The heart is the spiritual center of man’s being, out of which are all the issues of life. That heart sends the spiritual impulses to mind and will, to hand and foot, mouth and lips. And the power that keeps that heart beating is the lie that Jehovah is not God and that it pays to sin against Him! Hatred of God is pumped by that heart through our spiritual arteries into every fiber of our being and is behind every act we perform, whether it be inward or outward, of body or soul.
Because of this we oppose God and sin against Him. He stands in our way. His law is an obnoxious thing which we must ignore for joy and peace and life. We are outlaws and find joy only by living outside of His law. We are rebels, revolutionists, insurrectionists and antagonists. We showed that when He came in our flesh. We got rid of Him and nailed Him to the cross. If God is like that, we do not want Him! We prefer Barabbas! It had to come to this! When we embraced the lie of Satan and began to compete with God for His place, we started out on the road that could only end in killing Him when, because He came in our flesh, we had opportunity to do so. The enmity against God that is Satan’s became ours. We must get rid of Him, so we philosophize, if we are to have life and joy. We must disobey and decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil.
And exactly because He is God and maintains Himself as God, Jehovah will oppose that sinner with all His infinite being. He may give that man rain and sunshine, life and health, talent and gifts, but His curse is upon that man even in all these things. The psalmist declares that God is angry with the wicked every day.Psalm 7:11. And again the psalmist says that God “shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.” Psalm 2:4. Because He has in His eternal counsel decreed certain works which they must perform for the preparation of the Day of Christ, through the development of sin and the production of the man of sin, He will give them good gifts. But never is it in His favor to them or in any mercy that He has towards them. He cannot and will not deny Himself, not even for one moment. Not for one moment will He say, by word or deed, that the man who opposes Him is not the object of His unchangeable and infinite wrath. When man opposes God, God will not for one moment cease to oppose that man. He will not give way or stand still. He walks straight forward to the glory of His name; and the man who comes up against Him will feel the full fury of that infinite wrath. A man who runs down the train track toward the oncoming, speeding freight train will suffer less than the man who runs up against the living God! And man does that every time that he sins. Man is continually opposing God, rebelling against Him and His law.
We make a mistake, however, if we take the position that all the punishment that God will inflict upon man comes in the life hereafter. There it surely reaches its ever lasting climax. The fire is not quenched and the worm dieth not. There with body and soul in the full capacity that the wicked can experience, after receiving spiritual bodies through a resurrection unto damnation, they shall know the full sting of opposing the infinite and holy God. But there is an earthly side to that punishment, which, though it does not strike each ungodly alike and to .the same degree, is nevertheless very really there.
Let us listen to James. Or rather let us listen to God Himself as He spoke through James. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” James 4:1, 2. And the psalmist as quoted by Paul declares, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18. What is all this? Why is all this brutality, war and fighting, cruelty and evil in the world? Why does man live in fear of man? Why is a president of the United States of America murdered, and his murderer in turn murdered? Why is the question raised, “Is it safe for us and our children to walk the streets?” “Is there any hope of justice any more in this land of liberty and justice for all?”
The answer is plain and undeniable: God punishes sin with sin. All the fear and terror, all the murder and violence, theft and deceit, revolution and war are the ways in which God punishes sin with sin! Adam and Eve felt that very keenly. Their firstborn killed their second-born son. How quickly they learned what the wages of sin are! How soon they saw what fruit that one sin of theirs can and does bear. And from that time on it has not been any different essentially, but only in degree. Today the world has more murder and cruelty and man fears more what man shall do to man. We repeat the words of the psalmist, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Because there are such in the world, we will never have peace. The world will never be freed from fear. Terror will lurk not only in the dark places; but in the bright sunlight and before the eyes of thousands upon thousands murder is committed on the streets of Dallas! And before the eyes of millions on TV the murderer’s brutal slaying is witnessed! In the open! In broad daylight those who have not the fear of God in them bring terror and fear to men.
Let us face it: this we deserve and this we have brought upon ourselves. Adam introduced all this to the human race. He set the whole human race on the course which can ultimately only end in the man of sin, the antichrist, with devilishness the like of which we have not yet seen. We have not yet reached the end of the development of sin. And let us not be so foolish as to deny that there is such a development. When was there ever a time such as the day wherein we live? Never was there the juvenile delinquency, and parental delinquency as well, as today. Never was there such lack of respect for authorities, so much brutality and deceit. We have gotten ourselves a very sorry world. We have thrown away the fear of the Lord, and gotten for ourselves fear of man. We are in an armament race. We have stockpiled weapons of such devastating power that man lives in constant fear of wiping himself off the face of this earth. And we use these weapons as threats to others and so create more fear. Tension is everywhere. The cold war threatens any moment to become a hot war. We all wondered whether the enemy would not take advantage of our sudden confusion; and we took precautions to be alert for any sign of attack. Even now we wonder what Russia and Red China are going to use to attack us and our new president. Peace on earth? Nothing is further from the truth. We only rush from one crisis to the next!
But there is a way out: The Prince of Peace Who has been ignored and cast out. In His fear we see Him as the only solution, because He has removed our guilt and because He sets up presently a new kingdom wherein all the subjects have the love of God in their hearts. The lust that causes war is rooted out of their hearts. The evil doers who fill our flesh with fear are in the lake of fire from which they cannot escape. Fear the Lord, put your trust in Him. Nothing that happens in the future will fill you with fear of men. Have the fear of the Lord, receive Him as Lord, and let Him rule His creation. He will bring peace by destroying the evil doers; And by making us saints, we will live in blessed peace with Him.