For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 John 5:4
I wonder how often you have felt the sense of pain that can come as a result of being a Christian so that it seems as if you are like an alien living in a foreign world?
Our pastors often remind us in their preaching that we are engaged in a spiritual battle and warfare and that this world is not our home. Consequently, there are times when we really do feel a sense of alienation and a homesickness for heaven.
The divine purpose for God’s people Israel in the Old Testament, was that they should be a light and an influence for God and for truth among the nations. However, they failed to see this, and their deportation into Babylon meant that their light was not only put out, but it seemed that the very lamp-stand was removed. Israel suffered great humiliation and the nations around her were bereft of the light of the truth for generations. Psalm 137 conveys their feelings graphically: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion.”
The exile into Babylon was a season of judgment that God had sent upon His people and is something which He does send to His church from time to time in her history. It often happens at those periods where the church has turned aside from the centrality and priority of proclaiming the Word of God in its worship and its activities and has become lax in its outreach. At such times we need to remember what the Lord said in the days of Amos: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:1).
Christians who have ever lived during times of spiritual famine know only too well what it was like, and they have occasionally described it as being under the judgment of God. We live in a country which for years has been seeking for the food that perishes, and which delights in atheism and humanism and immorality and is dismissive of God and the Word of God and is full of ridicule for the church of God. Consequently Christians can almost feel like the Israelites living in Babylon. Our spirit groans and we are conscious of how helpless we seem to be in the face of all that is going on around us. The Spirit of God seems bound and the Word of God seems to be ineffective and there is a feeling that the church is irrelevant in the thinking of most people. We are living in a generation where the politicians and the media have encouraged radical atheists, and have inspired millions to turn their back on the Lord.
So the question then begs itself: Who inspires such people to become so evil and self-confident and brash and arrogant? There is only one answer and that is the Devil and his demons.
Whenever the church is weak and whenever there is a famine of the Word of God, then “Babylon” with all of its evil influences advances in the world. As Christians who are surrounded by all of this, we need to grasp afresh the vital truth that Christ has dealt the death-blow to Satan and all his fallen angels. He has spoiled the principalities and powers, and we must believe that, and we need to act upon it by faith. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). It is the prayer of faith that will turn again our captivity, and it is the Word of God that is the weapon God that uses to do it.
We must also remember that it is the prayer of faith that will diminish the influences of evil in the realms of the media and politics and national and international affairs. The prayer of faith confronts the powers of darkness and reminds them that they are defeated by Christ.
So the Babylons of this world need to beware of the true church of Christ – because we have the weapons that can destroy its strongholds. It has happened at times of great revival in the past and there are some encouraging signs that it is happening again in these days. Many people are listening to the Word of God who have never done so before, and Christians have opportunities to witness for Christ that they have never known before.
O that the Lord would: “turn again our captivity, as the streams in the south, so that those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” and “those who continually go forth even weeping, bearing the precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.”
May we look more and more to Christ and seek His face in the midst of the difficulties of our day.
Yours sincerely and expectantly,