Most readers know that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in any government courthouse. This landmark decision has been covered exhaustively by the media. But what does the ruling mean?
A courthouse is where laws are enforced. And the Ten Commandments represent God’s moral law, which never shifts or changes. It is as fixed as the law of gravity. If you defy that law, it’s like stepping off a high building. You can deny that the law affects you, but there are consequences sure to be paid.
Simply put, the Ten Commandments are eternal laws designed by God to keep society from destroying itself. Yet, amazingly, many sand-blasting companies are at work right now grinding away those Commandments — as well as God’s name — wherever they’re engraved in courthouse marble or concrete.
What a telling picture of the state of our society. These unchangeable laws were originally engraved in stone by the very finger of God. And now they are being erased from stone by the law of man.
I hear some Christians saying, “What’s the big deal? We’re not under the law. Why should this be an issue?” I cringe when I hear this. No, we’re not under the Hebrew law, meaning the 613 additional commandments added by Jewish rabbis. But every Christian is under the authority of God’s moral law, which is summed up in the Ten Commandments. No believer can justify committing adultery, theft or murder.
I wonder what goes through God’s mind as these sand-blasters erase his laws from before our eyes. Again, some believers claim, “We don’t need these displays of the Commandments. All that’s really necessary is for us to have them written in our hearts.” That’s not what God’s Word says. Consider the very visible presence God intended for the Commandments as they were delivered to his people:
“These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart … and thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates … and [thou] shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 8–9, 7).
The awful fact is, ungodly forces in our society have rejected God. All mention of him is now being removed from our schools, our courts, our public institutions. And soon these same forces will attempt to outlaw the words “One nation under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
I believe this madness will not go unanswered for long. I’m convinced God is going to act quickly. Take for example what has happened in Europe recently. Last year the European Union tried to force a constitution that blatantly rejected God and defined Europe as secular. The decree failed, but those spearheading it will surely be back; they won’t give up until the name of God is renounced through all of Europe. They have made their intentions clear, stating in essence, “Let God have his heaven. Give us the earth. Keep religion out of our faces.”
The fact is, if you don’t want God in your midst, he doesn’t simply go away. Consider what has happened in Europe since that constitution was introduced. Germany and France face massive unemployment. Welfare costs are soaring. Governing bodies are paralyzed, and there is incredible confusion all around. Yet these are only the beginnings of even greater fear and chaos to come upon any people who reject God outright.
Now the same anti-God spirit that’s at work in Europe is at work in America and it ought to grieve us. The Bible offers warning after warning on this matter. Why did God judge Noah’s generation by sending a flood? Why the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah? It all happened because of lawlessness. The Bible says that in those societies every person became a law unto himself, and the godly anguished over it. Lot, who lived in Sodom, was vexed daily by his society’s lawlessness (see 2 Peter 2:8).
By the close of the Book of Genesis, God had chosen a small, insignificant people to become a teaching nation. He wanted to raise up a people who would be living examples to the heathen world of his goodness. So, to bring about such a testimony, God took his people into places that were beyond their control. He isolated Israel in a wilderness, where he alone would be their only source of life, caring for their every need.
Israel had no control over their survival in that desolate place. They couldn’t control the availability of food or water. They couldn’t control their destination, as they had no compasses or maps. How would they eat and drink? Which direction would they go? And where would they end up?
God would do it all for them. He would guide them every day by a miracle cloud, one that glowed at night and dispelled the darkness before them. He would feed them with angels’ food from heaven and provide them with water from a Rock. Yes, every single need would be supplied by the Lord, and no enemy would be able to defeat them.
“Out of heaven he made thee [Israel] to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee” (Deuteronomy 4:36). God’s people would hear his very words guiding them, and in turn they would testify, “Who is there of all mankind who has heard the voice of the living God?” (see 4:32–34).
The nations surrounding ancient Israel were filled with “other gods,” idols made of wood, silver and gold. These gods were mute, unable to see or hear, unable to love, guide or protect the people who worshipped them. Yet any one of those nations could look to Israel and see a special people whom God carried through a terrible wilderness. They would see a God who spoke to his people, who loved and felt, who answered prayers and provided miracles. Here was a living God, one who guided his people in every detail of their lives.
This was the very reason God raised up Israel: to show a heathen world what the true, living God was like. As he looked upon the nations, he saw a human race filled with violence and lawlessness, crying pitifully to gods that couldn’t help them. It was a world filled with restless, striving, wicked-minded people, who wandered astray like sheep without a shepherd.
So God raised up a people who would be trained by him. There had to be a people who lived under his authority, who would trust him completely, giving him full control of every aspect of their lives. That people would become his testimony to the world.
Why would God want full control of a people? Why did he insist on their complete trust in all things? It was because only God knew the way. He alone knew their future and had the power to bring them into his full rest. And he would perform the impossible that was needed to get them there.
This is why Israel was placed in situations they couldn’t control. They faced trials they couldn’t understand, tests that were beyond their strength to cope with. God put them in these crises to invoke their faith. He wanted to bring them through these experiences to build their confidence, so that no matter what the future held, they could say, “God has delivered us, and he will deliver us again. He brought us through the plagues of Egypt, and out of the bondage of Pharaoh. All glory to the Lord in our present crisis.”
Beloved, this is still the way God produces faith in his people. He brings us into fiery trials that we can’t survive in our own strength. We face troubles that can’t be solved except by miracles of deliverance. You see, like Israel we’re destined to be God’s “trophy people.” He wants us as his examples to a lost world: a people brought to the end of themselves, who see before them impassable mountains, uncrossable seas, impossible wilderness experiences, and who declare, “This is all beyond me. It’s going to take miracles to see me through. I can’t cope with it on my own, and I can’t reason it through. No person or institution can deliver me. The Lord is my only hope. I have to give him full control of my life and future. I’m going to trust him in all my ways.”
So, which choice did Israel make? They responded with outbursts of mistrust and unbelief — ten such outbursts, in fact. And finally, God said, “Enough.” Consider the Bible’s summation of them: “They could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). Sadly, those ancient Israelites didn’t become examples of a people who wholly depended on their Lord, but rather examples of unbelief.
This last-days people would be raised up by Christ himself. And they would be governed by God, led by the Spirit, and wholly yielded to the Lord in every area of life. Jesus demonstrated this for us, living wholly dependent on the Father. He appeared not merely as the last Adam, but as the last “pattern man,” the ultimate example of what God had been searching for: one who would give the Father full control of his life.
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do … I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (5:19, 30).
We know Jesus was utterly dependent on the Father, and he is our example of yielding and trust. Indeed, he makes clear that such a life is possible for us. Most Christians are in agreement, saying, “Yes, that’s how we should strive to walk. We ought not to live with fear and anxiety, trying to solve our problems on our own. Rather, we should place our lives and cares in his hands.”
If we actually lived this, God should be the captain of our souls by now. But is he? For many in the church, the answer is a clear no. We sing songs about Jehovah Jireh, our provider, and we quote all the names of God — El Shaddai, Adonai, Jehovah, Elohim — as well as the glorious names of Christ: Messiah, Lord of lords, King of kings. Yet as soon as our next crisis arises, we mourn and question God’s faithfulness. And we give in to doubt and fear, relying on our wits to find an escape.
Many Christians read the Bible regularly, believing it is God’s living, revealed Word for their lives. Over and over in the pages of Scripture, they read about generations who heard the voice of God. They read of God speaking to his people again and again, with this phrase repeated time after time: “And God said…” Yet these same Christians live as though God doesn’t speak to his people today.
An entire generation of believers has come to make decisions completely on their own, without praying or consulting God’s Word. Many simply decide what they want to do, and then ask God to validate it. They move ahead forcefully, their only prayer being, “Lord, if this is not your will, then stop me.”
We’re now living in a time referred to as the “blink generation.” People are making major decisions in the blink of an eye. A best-selling book has been written on this concept, titled Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The theory is, “Trust your instincts. Blink-of-the-eye decisions prove to be best.”
Think about all the hurried-up “blink language” we hear every day: “This is an offer of the century. You can make a bundle overnight. But you have only a short window of opportunity. Get on it now!” The driving spirit behind it all is, “Blink, blink, blink!”
Such thinking has begun to infect the church, affecting the decisions made not just by “blink Christians” but by “blink ministers.” Scores of bewildered parishioners have written to us telling the same story: “Our pastor came back from a church-growth conference and immediately announced, ’As of today, everything changes.’ He decided we would become one of the popular trend churches overnight! He didn’t even ask us to pray about it. We’re all confused.”
Just a few years ago, the watchword among Christians was, “Did you pray about this matter? Have you sought the Lord concerning it? Are your brothers and sisters surrounding you in prayer? Have you received godly counsel?”
I ask you, has this been your practice? In the past year, how many important decisions have you made where you honestly took the matter to God and prayed sincerely? Or, how many of those decisions did you make “in the blink of an eye”? The reason God wants full control of our decision-making is to save us from disasters — which is exactly where most of our “blink decisions” end up.
There is no formula for living wholly dependent on the Lord. All I can offer to you is what God has been teaching me in this area. He has shown me two simple things about how I’m to give him full control.
First, I must be convinced the Lord is anxious and willing to make his will known to me, even in the smaller details of my life. I have to believe that the Spirit who abides in me knows God’s will for me, and that he will guide me, lead me and speak to me.
“When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth… He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13–14). Jesus is telling us that the Holy Spirit will convey to us the mind and will of God. “When he shall hear (your voice), he will answer thee … Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it” (Isaiah 30:19, 21).
Maybe right now you’re in the midst of some affliction, perhaps one that has been caused by a blink decision. Even so, the Lord promises you, “Your inner ear will hear my Spirit speaking to you, ’Go that way. Do this. And don’t do that…’”
Secondly, we have to pray with unwavering faith for power to obey God’s direction. Scripture says, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6–7).
When God tells us to do something, we need power to stay the course and obey him fully. Over five decades of life in ministry, I’ve learned that Satan and the flesh will always plant doubts and questions in my mind. And I need strength from heaven not to say “yes” to any situation when Jesus has said “no.”
Many of us pray, “Lord, I know what you told me. But I’m still not sure that was your voice speaking. In fact, I’m not sure I’m spiritual enough even to recognize your voice. Please, just open or close the door for me on this matter.”
That’s not the faith response he’s looking for from his children. You can pray all you want, for hours or even days at a time, weeping and pleading. But if you don’t pray with faith — believing the Holy Spirit will guide you, as Jesus has promised — you will never have the mind of God conveyed to you. He waits until he sees you’re committed to accepting whatever he says, and obeying it without question. Our response to him must be, “Lord, you are the Captain of my salvation. Your will be done in my life.”
At times, God may ask you to do something that’s utterly unreasonable. For a country preacher like me, it was absolutely unreasonable to leave my small town to come to New York City to preach to gang members. It was against all reason for me to be told, “Go to Brooklyn, to the Fort Greene housing projects, and witness to the Mau Mau gang.”
There was only one reason I went: because God said to do it. That was where I met Nicky Cruz. Now, decades later, the hundreds of thousands who’ve come to Jesus as a result of that unreasonable direction continue to multiply.
God does not deceive his people; he has promised to make his will clear to all who seek him. And when we’ve given him full control of our lives, we’ll hear his voice behind us, saying, “This is the way, beloved servant. Now, walk in it with confidence. I have everything under control.”