by Mike Ratliff
For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. (Psalms 55:12-14 ESV)
As the great Apostasy of the Church deepens and widens it seems that even those we once looked up to as solid and faithful servants of the Most High are slipping into unbelief. It is these failures that seem to strike the hardest at our hearts. We even begin to wonder, “Who’s next?” However, we must not become consumed with discouragement because of this. Yes, it should make us sorrowful, but we must not allow the lack of faithfulness by people to affect our walk with the Lord. Our role model is Jesus Christ. We should look to Him alone as our rock and firm foundation, not other people. Men will always let us down eventually.
We are fooling ourselves if we believe that persecution is not coming upon the Western Church. In every other part of the world Christians lose status in their society when they are saved. Their lives do not automatically become better when they profess Christ. Instead, they are seen as second-class citizens because of their faith. Here in the West, we exist in a climate of spiritual bankruptcy and easy-believism that is the product of decades of man-loving semi-pelagianism that has sucked the spiritual life out of the Church.
Our Lord said that to follow Him is costly, but in the West, it requires hardly any commitment at all. Christianity is seen as an add-on to ones life instead of what actually defines it. However, those in our culture who do take a stand for truth and attempt to live as Christ directs will find that they are no longer seen as “normal.” In fact, even in their churches, they will find there is a great deal of resistance to that level of commitment. Those who stand against this will soon be excluded and shunned. Why? The Western Church acts like the world because the world is in it. The world cannot tolerate true, genuine Christianity. It has no problem with empty religion, but Christ’s disciples who live out their faith as led by the Lord, will be at odds with the worldly.
Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy! Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan, because of the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked. For they drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me. (Psalms 55:1-3 ESV)
Psalm 55 is a Maskil of David. Commentators believe he wrote it to reflect on the time when his son Absalom, helped by David’s friend Ahithophel, rebelled against him. Let us look at how David reacted when those who used to worship with him have now turned on him and seek his destruction.
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah. (Psalms 55:4-7 ESV)
When I left my old church back in 2006, it was actually the culmination of well over a year of constant frustration and agonizing over the resistance of some of the people there to the truth from God’s Word that spoke of the level of commitment that God was showing me that His people must have as they walk before Him. Since that had little or nothing to do with being religious, but with being obedient and Spirit-led, it was not a popular message. The last six months there were agonizing for me. No matter what I taught or shared, I was put down. I was excluded. I was seen as a troublemaker. Our Pastor had every man in the Deacon’s Bible study class, except me, preach on alternating Sunday’s for a couple of months. I didn’t ask why, but the next time the Pastor preached, he made sure to stare at me when he preached that Man’s Free Will trumped the Sovereignty of God. When I left because he started implementing the Purpose Driven Church stuff I have never felt so devastated in my life. I wanted for God to kill me and take me home.
I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.” Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues; for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they go around it on its walls, and iniquity and trouble are within it; ruin is in its midst; oppression and fraud do not depart from its marketplace. For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart. (Psalms 55:8-15 ESV)
I was not physically threatened in any way. I was only silenced. However, what we must remember is that when the Great Apostasy comes into fruition, those turning on us will be the religious professing Christians who have believed the lie. Not all who profess Christ actually have Him. Those who do have Him will not believe the lie. However, they will be treated as an enemy of that lie that has been accepted as the truth.
But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah, because they do not change and do not fear God. (Psalms 55:16-19 ESV)
Our only hope is in God, our Lord. We must seek Him alone. We must keep our eyes on Jesus alone as we continue to walk in obedience. Those who are in darkness, but believe they are in the light, will persecute those who do not conform to the lie. They will believe they are the ones serving God, but will be actually persecuting those who really do. To believe this won’t happen in the West is being very naive.
My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords. Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you. (Psalms 55:20-23 ESV)
We must cast all of our hope on God, not other people. Those who will turn on us are those with whom we used to worship. Our Lord will sustain us. We may be persecuted horribly in an attempt to make us recant, but those the Lord upholds will never stumble or fall. Soli Deo Gloria!