Last week, Nancy and I were deeply convicted by a powerful teaching we heard at a local congregation. The pastor was focused on getting ourselves fit for the fire that is to come in the End Times (spoken of by Yeshua in Matthew 24). Believers could interpret this fire that is coming in different ways, but in this context I am seeing it as persecution against the Body of Messiah. Sha’ul told us that we as the Body of Messiah are to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). We are also told to stand fast as individuals in our faith (I Cor 16:13). This means that we are to hold to our convictions that there is one true God, Yehovah, and one clear standard of morality, which is the set of instructions YHVH has given us in His Torah.
The pastor went on to speak about the need to stand up for what we know is YHVH’s standard of morality in His Kingdom. He said that as the moral fiber of our nation continues to crumble we will have plenty of opportunities to speak out about God’s stand on moral issues. In our society today, we have an historic opportunity to stand fast in the face of the growing fires of immorality, and to speak out to others (both believers and non-believers) about God’s standard of morality. The Supreme Court decision to require all states to conduct same-sex marriages has given us a golden opportunity to test the strength of our commitment to uphold YHVH’s standards in the face of cultural persecution. YHVH spoke often about the abomination of Homosexuality, and He judged it as harshly as any other sin (see Judges 19-20 and Gen 19 for examples). He saw this as a violation of the sin of idolatry, that people exchanged the glory YHVH gave them for a lie, and worshiped the creation instead of the Creator (Rom 1:25).
In our home worship time with Abba, the Ruach keeps bringing Nancy and I back to the passages in Ezekiel (3:16-21 and 33:1-9) where YHVH speaks to Ezekiel about being a watchman to warn God’s people about the upcoming judgment for their sins. I think YHVH is speaking to all of us when He says: “When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood” (Eze 33:8). As God’s people, we are not only accountable for our own sins, but we are accountable for speaking YHVH’s truth to others and warning them about God’s righteous standard. As compassionate believers seeking to be like Yeshua, though, we must speak and act out of love and humility, seasoning our words with grace. We must not condemn or judge others out of our own self-righteousness, remembering that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of YHVH (including ourselves). See Part 2 of this Blog as we dig deeper into how we should we should act and speak graciously when we encounter unGodly attitudes, words or actions.
YHVH is a merciful Elohim who loves us with an unconditional love. However, YHVH is also a just and righteous God who cannot tolerate sin in His presence. Some see this as an irreconcilable contradiction, but in YHVH’s never-ending mercy, He chose to save His people from their sins by sending His Son to die in place of the death we deserve. This is the amazing miracle of the Good News, but we must do our part as well. In order to benefit from God’s plan of reconciliation with us, we must repent, turn from our sinful ways, and start walking on YHVH’s righteous path. We must not think that our own sin is somehow less offensive to God than the sins of others.
Yeshua told us that He would send fire on the earth. He said that He did not come to earth to bring peace, but division, and that even family members would be divided against each other in the same household (Luke 12:49-53). We know from experience that our families are the most difficult settings to speak out God’s truth, and sometimes are the places of greatest persecution. But we also know as believers that we are to “overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony” (Rev 12:11). And what does the rest of that passage say, that we are to “love not our lives even unto death”.
In the face of persecution from our families, friends and fellow believers, we need to stand fast to God’s standard, even when we are criticized, ridiculed, shunned by others, or face possibly even more severe consequences in future times. It is good to meditate on YHVH’s truth, knowing that nothing can separate us from His love, and that He will bless us with boundless spiritual fruit when we boldly share His truth with others.