What does it look like to follow God in an immoral culture? - Culture - TouchPoints

What does it look like to follow God in an immoral culture?

Romans 13:1-2Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.

Acts 4:19; 5:29But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? . . . We must obey God rather than human authority.”

The New Testament emphasizes the importance of obeying the government in authority over you. Only when those in authority order you to denounce God or deliberately disobey him should you disobey your culture’s authorities. God is the highest authority, and you must obey him above all else. If you disobey God, you are rebelling against him.

Esther 4:16And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I am willing to die.

Esther was only a young Jewish girl, but God brought her to a position of great influence in order to save her people. You can influence culture far more than you realize. Persist in obeying God and doing right, and you will influence the culture you live in.

Genesis 39:8-9But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household . . . How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”

Refuse to give in to what the Bible says is wrong.

Exodus 20:4You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything . . .

Today it’s hard to imagine bowing down to statues of wood or stone, but we have our own idols that lead us away from God. An idol is anything that takes God’s place in your heart. What kinds of idols do people worship today? Money, convenience, hobbies, the computer, reputation, beauty, celebrities, success—many of the things culture says should take top priority in our lives. If they become more important to you than God, if you find yourself thinking about them far more than you think about God, they have become an idol.

You must get rid of those things that keep God from being the center of your life. How? You might have to quit a hobby or remove something from your home. The point is that you must remove that which has taken God’s place in our life. These are usually the things that culture says you must have. What idol are you in danger of bowing down to worship? Don’t let the culture convince you it is more important than your relationship with God.

Numbers 25:1-3While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove, some of the men defiled themselves by having sexual relations with local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab.

The strength of your faith can often be seen by how much you influence culture rather than being influenced by it. These Israelites were easily influenced by some of the sinful practices of the surrounding culture. What kind of example have you been exhibiting lately to others? A good role model influences others for good rather than being easily influenced by evil.

John 15:19-21The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A servant is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you! The people of the world will hate you because you belong to me, for they don’t know God who sent me.

Romans 12:14-21If people persecute you because you are a Christian, don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them . . . Never pay back evil for evil to anyone . . . never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God . . . Instead, do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Jesus explains that if you are truly following him, rather than the culture, you will at some point be misunderstood, and possibly even mocked and persecuted. God’s message is counter-cultural. When you follow it—for example, praying for your enemies or giving away your money to help others instead of spending it on yourself—it will not make any sense by your culture’s standards. As a result, you can expect some ridicule and opposition. But it won’t always be the norm. In God’s new and future culture of heaven, goodness and righteousness will be the norm.

Genesis 6:5-8Now the Lord observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will completely wipe out this human race that I have created. Yes, and I will destroy all the animals and birds, too. I am sorry I ever made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord.

Genesis 6:9-10Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on the earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with him . . .

Consistent obedience to God’s commandments will set you apart from an immoral culture. Sometimes, you might feel as though you are alone in your obedience to God. It might feel like everyone is laughing at you. However, just because no one else is doing what you’re doing doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Remain faithful as Noah did. Obey God’s commands and find confidence in your relationship with him.

Deuteronomy 7:2-5When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy . . . They will lead your young people away from me to worship other gods. Then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and he will destroy you. Instead, you must break down their pagan altars and shatter their sacred pillars. Cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols.

This troubling passage from the Old Testament applied only to the nation of Israel at a unique time in history when God was trying to cleanse the Promised Land for the Israelites and show them what a culture dedicated to him would look like. God knew the pagans living there would tempt his people away from him—and they did. With the coming of Jesus, God’s new plan was for his people to be beacons of light to influence culture.