Civil Action in an Uncivilized World–What’s a Christian to Do?

There are times when you have to stand-up and be counted.

Of course, perhaps the most relevant point is that regardless of whether you “stand-up,” you will be counted. The choice is never will we, or will we not, “be counted,” whether we will or will not make a choice to participate in fighting for, or against evil, or sin. There is no neutral territory on planet earth. The real questions are: Which side are you on? Which side are you fighting for? For Christians in America this is an especially difficult time. The recent videos, and there seem to be more to come, revealing the grotesquely awful murderous evil of Planned Parenthood has highlighted this matter of public expressions of Christian courage. How should Christians respond?

We want to be courageous, wise and humble. It is not always easy to know how to respond to evil. There are many variables to consider, not the least of which is the truth that every Christian possesses an evil heart. Apart from the sovereign work of God through his Son and Spirit, not a single one of us who know the Lord Jesus as Savior would work for the biblical notion of righteousness and justice.

What Christians have to admit is that the same murderous and horrific evil on display with Planned Parenthood is also what simmers in every human soul, including ours. It is why Jesus had to come to earth, suffer, die and rise again. Indeed, it was Jesus’ treatment on earth throughout his life concluding in his death on the cross that constitutes the greatest evil of all time. Some of us, perhaps, are at a loss for words, explanations and plans for action because we have not faithfully thought about the biblical doctrine of sin, and the biblical solution to it.

Sometimes we are paralyzed in our response to explicit and horrific manifestations of sin because we know that we play games with our sin. Who am I to judge another? Well, that’s just it, the dirty little secret is we are always issuing judgments every moment of every day. We and everyone else is issuing judgments regarding good and evil, right and wrong. It is unavoidable. The idea that no one has the moral standing to identify and fight against moral evil because they themselves are morally corrupt is a shell game. It also contradicts Scripture.

The basis of any action that seeks to fight against sin and stand for God’s holy law is God’s holy law, and not our own moral purity. Of course, I have sin. Of course, you and everyone else does too. As I have told the parents and grandparents of our congregation, we do not uphold Scripture to our children or grandchildren on the basis of our holy lives, but on the basis of God’s holy life. If you are waiting for your own moral purity to “kick in” so that you can then have something righteous to say or do, you will never speak or act!

What we hold out to others is not ourselves and our lives. The apostle Paul said that he did not preach himself, but Christ crucified. And woe was he if he did not do this. The reason why every human being ought to fight for God’s holy law is that they are obligated to by God! And, yes, despite what some who espouse a rather bizarre application of “Two Kingdom’s” theology think, the gospel is only proclaimed to non-Christian when the holy, good and righteous law of God is brought to bear on their life circumstances. And Christians are obligated to do this. Yes, yes, we can talk about how that is done. That is an important topic, but THAT it is to be done with non-Christians, even those who are civil government office holders, ought not to be in question.

Perhaps one of the reasons why some of us are reluctant to publically take a stand for righteousness and justice as those are defined by Scripture, and not left-wing, social hipster causes, is that we know too well the sin in our lives. There is an easy remedy for that—repent. This is one of the reasons why it is necessary to speak out—it reminds us that we ought to be keeping short accounts with our Lord and repenting constantly to him. The pursuit of holiness in our lives individually forces us to address our place in the broader society in which we live, and thereby the sin in it with which we are unavoidably a part. In part, this was expressed by the prophet Isaiah when he saw the Lord as described in Isaiah 6. “Woe is me!” he cried. Why? Because he was “a man of unclean lips” and he lived “in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” You see, his sin was bound up with the sin of the people around and with whom he lived.

The whole creation belongs to God; always has, always will. Yes, of course, there is a difference between the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and the kind of authority that she has through his presence and power, and the kind of authority that the civil government has. But they are most emphatically not separated, isolated from one another so that they have nothing to say to each other or have no bearing on each other’s life. John the Baptist with Herod (Matt. 14; Mark 6), the apostle Paul with Festus and King Agrippa (Acts 25 & 26), and Jesus with Pilate (John 19) all pressed civil government authorities regarding the exercise of their powers as they fulfilled their ministries, and redemption was thereby accomplished. What each did in his individual circumstance was different. Still, each recognized and expressed the unbreakable union that existed with them in their doing God’s will and those civil governing authorities who unavoidably intersected with them.

God’s will for each of us in the circumstances in which we find ourselves will differ according to innumerable variables. We do not all have the same abilities, resources, time or relationships. We must distinguish between what the church is as a corporate entity and who we each are as individual Christians. As a pastor, husband and father I have several duties. I serve the church universal, a denomination (the ARP), a presbytery (First), and then a congregation (Covenant Fellowship), along with my children and wife. Go in reverse with how I presented those and that is the priority of how I must serve the Lord Jesus. How should I address the evils of Planned Parenthood in light of all these duties? Well, it is not exactly clear to me how I should do that, at least not all the time. But one thing I do know: I cannot remain silent and pretend that Planned Parenthood does not exist.

I need to repent of my past indifference, and repentance is not simply remorse. Repentance is an act. Perhaps my repentance from sin might assist others to repent of their sin. Which sins? That’s just it, we have no idea how the Spirit might use our repentance. But that’s not our duty. Our duty is to repent of our sin. And that always forces us to deal with the sin around us.

By the way, the worst sin in the world is not from Planned Parenthood. Read 1Tim. 1:12-17. Then read 1Peter 4:17.

What are you going to do?


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