Think We're Losing?  Think Again

Do you ever feel like those who are on the side of righteousness are losing the battle in this world?  The culture around us seems to be getting worse by the day, and the tide of godlessness is rising.  Families are disintegrating, marriage is dissolving, vileness is spreading, greed is governing, and ignorance is breeding.  As this happens, many individuals who claim to be Christians and many churches that claim to be teaching the gospel not only fail to oppose this degradation, but they even facilitate it, promote it, and celebrate it. At the same time, those who dare to oppose the moral decline of the culture are labeled as hatemongers, homophobes, religious bigots, intolerant, old-fashioned, outdated, and backwards. As a result of the intimidation and influence by the enemies of God, fewer and fewer people are willing to take a stand for biblical truth.  With all of this, does it seem like Satan is winning?

Despite the appearance of the trends I just described, we are not losing this battle when we stand for righteousness.  You may feel like we are losing if you only focus on the depravity around us, but the word of God gives us a different perspective.  It shows us that the outcome of this world's events has already been determined, and the victory goes to those who overcome the world through faith in Christ.  "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1John 5:4).  In fact, the challenges we face in this world are given to test and prove our faith so we can win the victory and receive the reward (1Pet. 1:3-9).  The only way Christians will lose this battle is if they lose their faith, stop resisting the devil, and give in to the world.

This battle has been going on throughout all the generations, and history teaches us that the righteous always win and the wicked always lose.  This is Peter's message in 2Peter 2:1-9.  In this passage, Peter uses history to give us confidence of victory over evil.  Concerning the wickedness of modern false teachers and workers of evil, he says with historical perspective, "their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep" (v. 3).  In other words, God has not ceased from punishing wickedness just as He did in the past.

Peter's first point of historical perspective concerns the presence and effect of false teachers in the world (v. 1-3).  As he wrote in the first century, he was anticipating the imminent rise of such false teachers among Christians, but this was nothing new.  False prophets had arisen at the same times that God's prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit to give the Scriptures (2Pet. 1:20-21). Now these new false teachers would "secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them" (v. 1).  They would mislead many by their "sensuality" and thus cause "the way of truth to be maligned" (v. 2).  Today as we look back at the Old Testament times and the times in which Peter wrote, we see a pattern that is repeating in our own time.  False teachers bring doctrines that have the appearance of true religion but actually deny Christ (consider Seventh Day Adventists and Mormons). Some false teachers captivate people by sensuality, teaching that one may fornicate, commit adultery, practice homosexuality, or perform many other sins and still be "saved by faith only." As many people embrace these false teachings, unbelievers and members of other religions assume that their behavior is typical of all Christians and malign "the way of truth" as hypocrisy and indulgence.

Next, Peter demonstrates by history that God punishes wickedness and saves the righteous.  Whether it was the angels who sinned, the ancient world of Noah's time, or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, God has brought destruction to those who sinned against Him (vv. 4-8).  At the same time, God saved those who were righteous, such as Noah and Lot.  These are only a few of the historical examples that could be cited to prove the point.  In the cases of Noah and Lot, they were in the very small minority when they remained righteous in the midst of the godlessness around them, and yet they won the battle.  Because they succeeded in their times, we know that we can succeed today.

Finally, Peter's conclusion is that "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (v. 9).  God has a track record that should cause us to trust Him.  No matter how high the tide of godlessness rises around us, God will not allow us to drown in it.  Just as He rescued Noah and Lot from the destruction that came upon the wicked, so He will also rescue us if we are faithful.  In our case, salvation will come in the day of judgment when the unrighteous will meet their punishment.  It is then when we will be given the ultimate victory, for in the resurrection on that day we will escape death forever (1Cor. 15:50-57).

So then, if you think that the righteous are losing the battle in this world, then think again.  This world is "in the power of the evil one" (1John 5:19), yet "the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever" (1John 2:17).  It is not those who are passing away who are winning, but rather it is those who will live forever through Christ.  "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Cor. 15:57).

Stacey E. Durham


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