“Prone to hate God and his neighbor!” This is the eternal judgment of God upon wicked men. Even in all their marvelous accomplishments, nothing else can be said but this. No matter what man may attempt to do and actually succeed in doing, he is only adding to his sin. Everything that comes into his hands, he uses to sin more and more. Every power he uncovers, every invention he makes, every production he produces is used to satisfy his own carnal flesh. He is intent on sinning, and sinning is his only ambition under the sun. His systems of education produce enemies of God as they are intended to do. His creation of leisure hours for his fellow man and for himself results in increased opportunities to indulge in the lusts of the flesh. His great philanthropies are for carnal motives and devilish selfish purposes. His music is in the service of sin. It is all pervaded and impregnated with the wickedness which is conceived in hell and born in man’s life on earth. With all that he has and does, he achieves only his own destruction. “He destroys the family, disrupts society, corrupts the state, and sets the world on fire with the torch of war.” The Christian and Culture, p.11
And so all his efforts are directed to the end of establishing here upon earth a kingdom apart from God and Christ. He can find no rest until he has succeeded in banishing the name of God from the earth. He is not sated until the blood of the last saint is shed and the church is destroyed. He can only be, satisfied that he has accomplished his purpose when God’s cause is lost, when Christ is taken from the throne, and when he can do as he pleases to do without fear of the consequences. When he can sin as much as he pleases and avoid the grievous and dire consequences of his own deeds, he will be content that his goal is attained.
GOD REMAINS SOVEREIGN
But this can never happen.
In all this wickedness which man does, God still rules and Jesus remains on the throne. God is not in a life and death struggle with man to see who will ultimately be victorious. Christ is not engaged in mortal combat with the devil-the outcome of which combat is yet to be decided, and hinges upon some future events. The battle was fought and won on the cross of Calvary. Christ rules supreme. An even then, He does not rule in spite of all this wickedness which abounds on the face of the earth, but uses all these things to do the will of the Father. Christ is saving His church and coming in judgment upon the world. Election and reprobation must be accomplished and will be accomplished in order that the kingdom of heaven may be established when Christ shall return again. Then the elect will be saved to live and reign with Christ forever in His kingdom.
And so Christ is also ruling in the wickedness of men. The cup of iniquity must be filled. And that cup of iniquity is filled by the development of sin in the world of wickedness. Sin develops. Always man is just as sinful as he ever was. Antichrist is no worse a monster of iniquity than Cain. But sin develops with the development of civilization and science. Cain did not have much with which to sin. But as man probes the mysteries of the universe and subdues the curse stricken creation, each accomplishment is, in turn used in the service of sin. When a new invention proceeds from the laboratories of the world, it is hastily made to serve the purpose of sin, and is pressed into the service of the ambitions of wicked men. And only when the last power of the creation has been uncovered; when man has done all that he is capable of doing, and has all the tools in his hands which the creation can supply, and has used them all completely in seeking his own selfish ends, is the cup of iniquity filled. Sin develops in connection with the development with the development of man’s intense efforts to subdue the creation. But when this cup of iniquity is filled, then the world is ripe for judgment, the church is ready to be completely redeemed, the end of all things is at hand, the day of our Lord’s return imminent. All things have now been fulfilled according to the purpose of God, and it is time for the universal rule of Christ and the universal defeat of the world to be publicly announced. Then our redemption has come!
What is the calling of the Christian in the midst of such a world? What must be his position over against these things and his attitude towards them? And how must he live in such a world-live as a child of God? These questions now press for answers.
There is one solution that has been proposed in times gone by. This solution is the solution of world flight. There are men who have found the answer to be complete escape from the world. They have taken the position that it is all wholly corrupt and that all the things of the world are evil. The only solution is to run out.
This solution is based upon the idea that wickedness does not only arise in the hearts of men, but wickedness is in the things of the creation as well. A man alone is not wicked, but all the powers of the creation are also wicked. Sin is not only the evil deeds of totally depraved men, but sin is in the inventions of man also. The solution to the whole problem, therefore, lies in running away from such a world and isolating oneself as completely as possible from it. Men who have sought the answer in this fashion are the men who have lived their lives in barren monasteries and cells insulated from the world and turning inward to themselves in meditation. They have tried to flee from other men flee from the things of the world, flee from the duties of life, and even flee from themselves. They have tried to become absorbed through mediation in the higher things-the true, the good and the beautiful-to be at last released by this means from the shackles of their own bodies. In fleeing from themselves, they have tortured their bodies, mutilated them, starved them, beat them, and abused them in every conceivable way. They read no books except the Bible; saw no one except themselves off from the world and society. This, they were assured, world give them an honored place by the throne of Christ.
We, as Protestant Reformed people, have often been accused of adopting in principle the position of “world flight”. In our theology at least, we have been charged with taking this world and life view. But this is not true.
The error is all this is obvious. Sin is not in things, but is in the heart of men. A thing in itself is not and cannot be wicked, but man’s use of it certainly can. The automobile is not wicked, but when it is used to slaughter one’s fellow man on the highways of the nations, it becomes an instrument of evil. Television is not a mask behind which the devil hides, but what comes over television is quite a different matter. The airplane is not a machine which operates by the energy of the powers of hell, but it is used by man to carry destruction and death to the far parts of the globe; or to wing pleasure-mad people to destination where they can enjoy the lusts of the flesh. Sin is not found in a comfortable house, in tables filled with food, in radios in the home, in ships that sail the seas; but when these things come into the hands of wicked men whose hearts are at enmity with the living God, then certainly they are used only to increase sin. But the solution to the problem is not to turn our backs on these things and run away from them. This would be a virtual denial that all things in themselves are good gifts of God to be used as such.
Besides, the Christian is never called to run away from the world. He cannot anyway. Should he hole up in monastery or barren cell, should he remove himself to the deepest reaches of a desert or jungle, should he isolate himself completely from the entire world, he carries the world with him in his own flesh. And often times these seemingly holy shrines where men have spent their years in self denial have become the greatest dens of iniquity.
We are in the world even though we are not of the world. In this world the Lord places us. In this world we are called to live as long as it may please our heavenly Father. In this world we must take our place. To try to escape from the world before our Father beckons us home is to rebel openly against His will. We must not flee away, but live here as people of God. When our Lord calls us home, then we go to our home of many mansions. But in the mean time, it is the will of our heavenly Father that we remain here below in the world even though not of it. And this we must certainly do.