Destroyed from Within
- Thursday, March 06, 2008
In his excellent book on the history of Rome, Caesar, and Christ, historian Will Durant observed, "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has first destroyed itself from within. The essential cause of Rome's decline lay in her people and her morals."
As the Roman Empire rose to greatness, it no doubt assumed that its power would last for centuries to come. But even while its citizens were living in prosperity, the empire was crumbling from the inside. You will find this true of any civilization that has ultimately collapsed or has been overcome by a foreign power. It first fell apart on the inside. The landscape of history is strewn with the remains of once-great nations that let moral decay from within bring them to ruin. The same can happen in America today as we undergo moral decay on the inside.
But the answer to this problem is not political; it is spiritual. The people of America need to turn back to God. Engraved on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. are these words of our third president:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.
If America does not turn back to God, then I fear that judgment is certainly coming.
It is my belief that our country has two choices at this time in history. One is judgment. The other is a spiritual awakening or revival, that is, a great move of God's Spirit among His people. That is what we need to pray for the United States of America.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God gave His prescription for revival and for the healing of a nation: "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land" (NLT).
That statement was originally given to the nation of Israel at the dedication of their temple. But this is also what we need to do if we want to see God's blessing on our nation.
When we look at the problems in America today, we are quick to point the finger at someone else. It is the fault of Hollywood. It is the fault of the media. It is the fault of Congress. But when God sees the moral breakdown of a nation, He points to His people: "If my people who are called by my name. . . ."
So what should we, as His people, be doing?
First, we need to humble ourselves. One of the hardest things to do is to say that we have sinned. It is difficult for us to admit to any personal wrongdoing. Maybe you haven't sinned as much as some people you know, but God doesn't grade on the curve. That's why we need to humble ourselves before God and admit that we have sinned.
Second, we need to pray and seek God's face. To fail to pray can be as much of a sin as breaking one of God's commands, because there are sins of omission as well as sins of commission. A sin of commission is breaking a commandment, while the sin of omission is not doing what you are supposed to do. If Christians will obey this command to pray and seek God's face, they will be able to do more for our nation than all of the government's programs combined.
Third, we need to repent. "If my people will . . . turn from their wicked ways. . . ." The word "repent" essentially means to make a U-turn, or a change of direction. If we are going to follow Jesus Christ, then we need to turn away from the things the Bible says are sin. We need to examine our lives for anything that is inconsistent with God's Word and needs to change.
God has told us what we need to do as a nation to see His blessing come upon us. We need to stop pointing our fingers at everyone else and make sure that we are living the Christian life that God intended for us to live. But it starts with you. It starts with me.
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