197 – Standing in the Day of Evil

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Standing in the Day of Evil Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungChristians are no strangers to suffering and persecution. From the days of the arena to today, following Jesus Christ is risky business. And writing for Him? It’s become more hazardous every day. In this “cancel culture” world, being firm about biblical truth can cost us everything. Are you prepared for the battle?

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The world has gone crazy. Every day we see more evidence of the evil weaving its way into people’s minds and hearts. Women’s sports events being won by men who call themselves women. Government corruption on levels seldom seen before. Churches being destroyed by sin, sexual or otherwise. Respected Christian leaders being exposed for liars and base sins.

On and on the litany goes. What is—not was, but is—good is called evil, and evil is celebrated as right and loving. Isaiah 5:20 warns us about this very thing: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” In fact, it’s so loving, let’s teach it to children from the earliest age so they can be awakened to who they really are and live in total freedom… 

Then there are the unprecedented disasters taking place. Floods surging through one country after another. Cyclones leveling entire cities. Wildfires that blanket half the country in deadly smoke. Heat that makes it impossible to live. Earthquakes opening up the earth and swallowing tens of thousands of people. Just a few weeks ago, thirteen tornadoes ripped through the Chicagoland area. Thirteen! In one day! It’s like some kind of disaster flick come to life. 

Even in our own families, we see tension and division over philosophies and faith. Topics we used to discuss freely are suddenly taboo, and we find ourselves tiptoeing around issues to avoid conflicts. Believers following God’s laws are called hateful, judgmental, prejudiced, and, the worst accusation of all, so it seems, intolerant. 

As writers, we face sensitivity readers who tell us we can’t write history as it was. Rather we have to rewrite history to fit today’s narratives. Best-selling author Tamera Alexandar told us how that very situation led to her choosing to leave her publisher rather than rewrite a story to make it compliant, but basically a lie.

We’re told we can’t write the stories God has given us because we’re “appropriating” other cultures. Contracts are cancelled when publishers receive pushback for books written based on biblical truth. It’s censorship, plain and simple. And it’s running rampant—even celebrated!—everywhere we write, post, or speak. 

It’s so easy to lose heart in the face of all the insanity. Christians end up feeling overwhelmed and beat down by the whole so-called “cancel culture.” So what is the answer for writers who follow Christ? 

2 Timothy 3. Truly, that chapter of the Word equips us for exactly what we’re facing today. Look at the first nine verses:

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.”  

Okay, we’re not saying we’re living in the last days. We may be, we may not. But whether Christ’s return happens now (let it be so, Lord Jesus!) or centuries from now, these current days are, indeed, very difficult. So let’s read on…

“For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.” 

Does that sound like today or what? They will consider nothing sacred. Not faith, not family, not truth, not God…not life itself.

“They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”

Great advice. Stay away from people who have shown in their words, actions, and writings that they are working against God. If you encounter them face-to-face, remember to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.”

Have you ever wondered what Scripture means by shrewd as snakes? The snake has long been a symbol of craftiness and cunning. The Egyptians used the serpent in their hieroglyphics as a symbol of wisdom. Snakes are adaptable creatures who can thrive in any number of environments. They are also well known for the ability to fit into the smallest areas and attack from ambush. But one of the most cunning hunting techniques of snakes is called “caudal luring,” or using deceptive ploys to catch prey.

For example, juveniles of some pit vipers and dwarf boas have a bright yellow tip on their tails. With the rest of their body a darker color, they coil in cover, then use the bright yellow tail tip to like a fishing lure! But this lure is actually right next to their head. So the prey thinks that bright yellow thing is a yummy worm and comes to have lunch—only to become lunch itself. 

So being “shrewd as serpents” is being cunning and crafty. Webster’s identifies cunning as “having or showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion.” Which is exactly how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees and Sadducees. When they tried to trap him with leading or deceptive questions, instead of answering their question, Jesus turned the question to what really mattered. The Pharisees asked how Jews should respond to the Roman occupation, hoping to catch him saying something against Rome, and Jesus responded with Scripture: “Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s.” 

Let’s go back to 2nd Timothy, starting at verse ten:

“But you… certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.”

Did you catch that bit just before the evil will flourish?  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Not may one day, or runs the risk of. But will face persecution. Friends, we have to be ready! Which is exactly what Paul helps us do in the next section, starting at verse fourteen.

“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” 

Now we know some of us haven’t been taught the Scripture since childhood, but don’t worry. Because God has given us the Holy Spirit, when we study Scripture, no matter when we begin that study, the Spirit helps us understand and embrace God’s truths. As the next verse says, 

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Wow. So much truth, and encouragement, in one chapter of God’s Word! How do we as Christian writers deal with our world today? Stand Firm. Immerse ourselves in God’s Word that He may prepare and equip us. Because we never know when we’ll find ourselves on the firing lines. 

A good friend of Karen’s once came under fire for supporting a public figure he knew to be godly and good. This public figure had the temerity to speak truth into a situation steeped in lies. As a result, cancel culture went into overdrive to destroy him. 

In the midst of all this, her friend had posted a comment thanking this public figure for help he gave years ago. Somehow the media got hold of that comment and proceeded to go after her friend. And, as so often happens, this friend came under fire. He received  hate mail and was given the gift of trolls. 

Here’s the thing. This friend didn’t post back then to take a stand, but just to express thanks and encouragement to someone getting beat up. But that was all it took to be added to cancel-culture’s hit list. 

Not fun at all, but there’s something amazing in this story. You want to see how God takes care of us when we’re persecuted? Karen’s receives a weekly email from another friend with Scripture verses for each day of the week. As she was praying for her under-fire friend back then, that email came in and Karen opened it. Here’s what she found: 

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”  1 Peter 3:17 (NASB) 

“And David spoke the words of this song to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said, ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.'”  2 Samuel 22:1-3 (NASB) 

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  Hebrews 2:18 (NASB) 

“The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord, And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 29:19 (NASB) 

“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”  Ephesians 6:14-15 (NASB) 

“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him.”  Psalm 37:39-40 (NASB) 

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  1 Timothy 6:12 (NASB) 

When Karen finished reading, she sat back and shook her head. God is SO cool! Those verses spoke right to what her friend was facing. After receiving permission, she forwarded the Scripture email to her under-fire friend. God used those weekly Scripture emails to bless not just Karen, which they did, but to bless someone else she loves and respects.  

There’s one other thing we want to address. While we may not relish the idea of suffering and being persecuted in our stand for God’s truth, if that’s what God calls us to do, we will do it. But what about our families?

What if standing means we lose our jobs or finances? What if we find ourselves unable to care for our families? How can we let them suffer? God commands us to care for our families, right? So how do we reconcile all that? It’s one thing to suffer myself, but to make others suffer for my actions? What about 1 Timothy 5:8:

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.”

Worse than unbelievers? How can we do that?

This is a real concern, and it stems from our determination in Christ to do what’s right. There’s no denying it would be terrible to see our families suffer for our actions, but as true as that verse from Timothy is, we have to also remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34-39: 

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Friends, your family and friends are not yours. They are gifts from God. He has given them to you for HIS purposes. Bottom line, we serve a Savior who, for our sake and salvation, suffered the loss of friends and reputation, was persecuted and brutalized by religious leaders, suffered unimaginable tortures and pain, and endured a gruesome death. Remember Hebrews 12:1-3:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” 

Because of the joy awaiting him. Friends, that joy set before him wasn’t some amazing reward meant just for Jesus. That joy is us! It’s that He restored us to His Father. He became our salvation. We follow Christ into whatever God chooses, however God chooses, all for the joy of being Christ’s light to a dark and suffering world.

Of course we don’t want our families to suffer, but they are in God’s hands. Not ours. And if God Almighty calls us to stand for Him regardless of the consequences, we’d better stand. For our sakes. For our families’ sakes. For the world’s sake. 

These are hard truths, we know. And we know how easy it is in today’s world to get focused on all that’s so very wrong with the world. To be pulled down in spirit by the evil that seems so entrenched, and so in control, of everything around us. Even worse, fear of reprisals can make us hesitant to take a stand and speak up for God’s truth.

If you find yourself feeling that way in your writing, in your relationships, in any area of your life, we encourage you to step away. Step away from all the external voices and stimuli. Focus on the all-powerful God who created you and asked you to write for Him. 

Step into Scripture, silence, time focused on truth. Step into fellowship with those you trust, with the truth-speakers God has given you. Step into God. Even if or when it means persecution. Cancel culture seems scary, but in light of God’s power and truth and in light of eternity with Him? It’s nothing. 

In fact, it will only come to your doorstep if God allows it. Which means it will only come to you if God has a purpose for it to do so. And remember, God’s purpose may be for you or it may be for others. You may never know. But you can ALWAYS know this: you will not face any persecution without God right there, beside you. Psalm 23:4 promises you this: 

“Even when I walk through the valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

So the days are ugly and dark, but our God is beautiful and light and truth! As we walk into each new day, whether in our lives or in our writing, may we stand firm in His truth. And may God, our salvation and strength, enable us, every day, to say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: I will maintain my own ways before him. He shall be my salvation.”  

Say yes to whatever God has for you. And for your family. Stand firm for His truth. Know that your actions today have eternal impact. Embrace Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:13-16

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4 comments

  1. Laurie Garrison says:

    Thank you for writing this important post. May we all lean into God as we face whatever persecution comes our way.

  2. Thank you for this Beautiful, powerful – and sober – reminder. Amen! Let us have courage to always speak and write truth, leaving the outcome to God. Whether our words lead to joys or trials, may they be used to glorify God and advance His Kingdom purposes. What a privilege to serve our Lord through words.

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