As I write this, April 12, 2011 is only a couple of hours from its end. A hundred and fifty years ago, on this same date, America began its great Civil War with the first shot fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.
The war began because of two things: a.) the institution of chattel slavery, and b.) the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. Oh, State’s Rights were the excuse the South used, but the rights of the Southern states weren’t being attacked or taken away. No one was denying them the right to own their slaves, as they claimed. What was happening was that America was closing down around them, cutting off slavery from all other areas of the country. Without the possibility of further expansion, the leaders of the South knew that their most precious institution would die on the vine. And then Lincoln was elected. That was the last straw. He was from a northern state, Illinois, and was widely regarded in the South as being anti-slavery. So they trumpeted State’s Rights to attract sympathy; but the undercurrent was always slavery and Lincoln was the excuse.
So the leadership of the South lied about their motivations. No one was taking their rights away. They were attempting to deceive the nation and the world.
This is one of the most terrible symptoms of backsliding – deception. We find that to be true in the case of the most obvious radical renewal (transformation by renewal of the mind) in scripture, and it’s always true of those who hide in the church, pretending to be right with God when their hearts are far from Him. And if you think I’m criticizing anyone right now, be aware that I was a deceiver in the church for many years. In fact, I was so good at it that I even fooled myself. That’s why, looking back on the Civil War and studying the South’s leadership, we can see the self-righteousness of the Southern leadership for what it was – phoniness.
King David was a phony for awhile – long enough to damage his family, murder a good man and take his wife for himself. You can read about his failures in II Samuel 11&12. But he hid those failures well. No one spoke up or condemned him.
However, the day finally came when David was forced to confront his sin, was forced to own up to what he’d done. He did it openly because Nathan the Prophet confronted him with his sin and rebuked him on behalf of the Lord. To David’s everlasting credit and our benefit, the King repented on the spot and asked for God’s forgiveness, which he received. Afterward, his life reflects radical renewal in that he began pursuing godliness once again, and sought to live a righteous life.
In a sense, Lincoln was the South’s Nathan. He rubbed their noses in their sin, and they hated him for it. He didn’t do it intentionally. He didn’t point his finger and say to them, as Nathan said to David: “You are the man!” Instead, by insisting on Union, he told them they weren’t going to have their way, and their response was to rebel and bring untold suffering down on the nation.
When we backslide or move away from God, we are taking the very same position as the South. “I’m hiding my sin. I will not admit that I’m wrong!” But I am convinced that someday, like King David and the South, every backslider — churchgoing or not — will be compelled to admit what they’ve done. Jesus said that nothing is hidden which won’t be revealed, or covered up that won’t be made known.” (See: Matthew 10:26, Mark 4:22, Luke 12:2). And the Apostle Paul said flat out that this truth will apply to everyone (I Corinthians 4:5). This makes me think that there will come a time when the fruit of our lives will be seen – by everyone.
I hope that you’re not being a phony like David and the South. But if you are, there’s hope. God may not be blessing your life right now, and He may seem far away, but He still loves you and is trying to draw you back to Himself. Why don’t you go along with the program? Why don’t you say to God right now, “Father, I want this to be over. I want Your will for me, regardless of anything that might stand in the way. Bring me back to Yourself, Lord. All the way back.” Keep following this blog, I plan to show you that way. My best hope is that someday I’ll be standing there when the Lord looks down at you… and smiles