Allen Jackson - Antichrist On Display - Part 1
I've told you before I love this nation. It's where God planted me. I understand that God is not an American. I know that when we get to heaven they won't be playing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in the elevators. I have no lack of clarity. In front of the pearly gates there is not a flagpole with the red, white, and blue flapping in the breeze; and I would not suggest that. But I also know that God has uniquely blessed our nation. We would not exist and we would not know the liberties and freedoms that we have apart from God, that we are a nation of immigrants. We have come from the nations of the world. We have come with different colors of skin and different shapes of eyes and with different accents.
We haven't been bound together by an ethnicity or a nationality, we have been bound together by a faith. We have never been a uniquely Christian nation; but historically the one thing that has bound us together has been that faith in Jesus Christ, that biblical worldview, that Judeo-Christian worldview. We're not a nation with a perfect record. We have all the flaws and failures that groups of people have, but even a casual review of our history shows a trajectory of change and striving to achieve and to become something better than what we have been. We celebrated last weekend as we looked towards Martin Luther King Day, and we have made a tremendous amount of progress since his speech on the wall, the mall in Washington. We're a nation that is still in process.
The article I read this week had to do with the March for Life that took place in Washington, D.C. this week. It's been taking place for several years. It's a public acknowledgement of the sanctity of human life, and multiplied millions of people over the years have gathered in Washington to march peacefully, to walk peacefully on behalf of those who don't have a voice. This was the first time the march had taken place since the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade. So it was something of a significant season, a significant year. And the article was referring to some people who were planning to participate. Some of them were public figures. Not politicians, just people who've lived in the public life as athletes or professional coaches and such; and the people who were participating were labeled as extremists, radicals. They were dangerous.
If they dared to participate, the article was calling for them to lose their jobs, to be pushed out of the public square, to be no longer treated as serious people. They were too backwards, too antiquated, too out of step, too dangerous to be given a voice in public if they dared to speak up for the sanctity of human life. I think that's an appropriate topic in church because we are all image bearers of Almighty God. It's one of the unique revelations of Scripture. It's what sets human beings apart from the rest of creation. We're not just the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder, we are unique in all of God's creation. He breathed into us his Spirit. We bear the image of Almighty God. The redemptive story of Jesus was not for the animals or even for the fallen angels. The incarnation was the Son of God became one of us.
So there is something unique about human beings; and the sanctity of human life, the very weak, from the weakest to the smallest to the strongest, whomever they may be, every life is sacred. Now, that's at the heart of our faith. You know, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in recent months, that was not primarily a moral decision. The Supreme Court doesn't make moral decisions. They make legal decisions. And I obviously I'm not an attorney, but Roe v. Wade was bad law. It wasn't founded on a principle from the constitution. The justices of the Supreme Court in the '70s were far more spiritual than we are. They divined what the founders intended and they found a right that was not in print and from that they issued a law that made it legal for more than 60 million children to lose their lives.
Now, I believe it was an act of tremendous courage by the current court to overturn that and say the law was bad. It didn't ban abortion. It didn't remove it from our nation. The number is still growing. So we're 60 million and counting. And for their courage they have received threats to their lives; real threats, not just theoretical ones. Their ruling was leaked to the media before it was announced, and they've been unable or unwilling, it isn't exactly clear, to identify who leaked that; an egregious breach of conduct in that institution. They've been held up and ridiculed and called names. You have heard much of that. It's an attempt to bully you far more than it's an attempt to bully them. Their appointments are for a lifetime.
The message is that if you would have the boldness or the brazenness to agree with them you could be subject to the same kind of threats, the same kind of cancellation; and you and I don't have the positions that they do. Since that ruling, in a very persistent way there has been a very vocal group in favor of abortion driving public policy and election outcomes. We hear it over and over and over again. I want you to think about that with me for just a moment. It's important. That we've seen multiplied thousands of people standing in the streets occupying the place before a microphone, be willing to be on the record, men and women demanding the right for women to end the life of their child.
You have to think about that for a moment. And in the face of that, the people of God have been for the most part ambivalent. It's a fancy word. Indifferent, quiet, with dithered. Well, it's a complex topic. It's not easily discussed. We don't talk about faith or politics, and abortion continues. The decisions have been pushed back to the states. It's actually been pushed back to the people. Now, there's a lot of things that contribute to that, but they're the things that fill our lives. They're not beyond us. We're not unaware of them. They're not separate from us. It is the description of our lives. The reality is after 60 million children have lost their lives, abortion has touched every one of us directly or indirectly, every one of us. So we can't stand apart from this and act as if we don't understand, nor should we be stooped over by the shame of this.
There is a remedy for that if you're a Christ follower. Forty percent of the children born these days are born outside of marriage. That's a very conservative number. There are some segments of our culture and society where the number is significantly higher. That's a dramatic increase. In 1990 it was less than 30%. There are a lot of things that contribute to that. We have increasingly casual attitudes regarding sexual activity. It's just not that big a deal. We make movies and celebrate ideas like friends with benefits. It's so commonplace it's just better not to talk about it, and it's as commonplace within the church as it is without. We have diminished the idea of marriage. It's no longer focused as a covenant between a man and a woman in the sight of God. It's an opportunity for a party, a celebration. It's your day.
We start filling our daughters' heads with that almost from the time they're born. No. It's your day to make a covenant with another, for the young ladies, it's your opportunity to make a covenant with a man for the rest of your life in the sight of God. Everything else around it is secondary. We are almost totally engulfed with the cult of self-fulfillment. If it makes us happy, if it feels good, we're for it. If it diminishes our happiness or we think it's going to in some way inhibit our opportunity to achieve self-fulfillment, we will ignore it. The demand for personal rights increases every day. We keep choosing one wave of leaders after another who are promising us to fulfill more rights that they have identified that we have. And at the same time we've chosen that path, we have rejected with increasing intensity any sense of personal responsibility.
"Couldn't be our fault. You wouldn't ask me to make a sacrifice". As much as I would like to point a finger and say it's the government's fault or the politician's fault or the court's fault or someone else's fault; I think the real change in the trajectory of this, and if there is not a change it will devastate us as a people. We will lose our freedoms and liberties. Nations rise and fall. They always have. This one will, too. How long it persist is really not a matter of politics, or government, or even economics, or the military. I believe how long we exist has everything to do with our faith, which means your faith and my faith are at the center of this discussion.
We've been working on a little series talking about spiritual things. It's not actually a little series, and I want to continue that. In this session, I want to explore a bit of that about the Antichrist. Have you heard of that? Have you heard of him? Yeah, it's easy to think about these days. I would submit to you that the spirit of Antichrist is on rather full display these days. But I'll start with the text we've been using 1 Corinthians 12 and verse 1. It says, "Now about spiritual gifts, brethren, I don't want you to be ignorant". About spiritual things I want you to be informed. You can't use ignorance as an excuse. It's not acceptable. And it's not just spiritual activity. The Corinthian church had lots of spiritual activity, but they were a very immoral bunch.
In fact, Paul wrote to them and he said, "There's immorality amongst you that even the pagans don't endorse". That's not a good reputation, when the people of God are practicing behavior that is so brazenly ungodly that even the pagans blush. That was the Corinthian church, and yet they prayed for miracles and they talked about spiritual activity and they prophesied. So don't ever confuse spiritual activity with holiness. That's a very important point because as we move forward there's going to be increasing deception, and most of the dangerous deception is going to be wrapped in religious language and religious activity and presented from religious buildings and given to you by people with religious pedigrees. The best determination of spiritual maturity is not spiritual activity, it's the fruit of the Spirit.
The Book of Galatians, it talks about that; that if you will choose to cooperate with the Spirit of God in your life and put to death, execute that old, carnal, earthly nature, that the character of the Spirit of God will be made evident in your life. You see, that's the insulation for the power of God. If God were to make his power available to you and respond to your prayers in remarkable ways and give you dramatic outcomes without the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit, the power of God's dangerous. Now, God's desire to help his people is so great sometimes he'll work through a donkey. It's Biblical. Gives me hope every weekend. I've submitted to you and will continue to suggest to you that spiritual forces impact our lives just as certainly as physical forces do, and we need to plan for that in the same way you have a plan for physical forces.
If you wear a seatbelt in your car, you better understand how to put on the spiritual armor. If you've taken, if you've made efforts to boost your immune system as we walked through a pandemic, you need to know how to strengthen your spiritual immune system. Now, the Antichrist is a spirit that's on bolder display these days than any time in my lifetime. There is a very powerful spirit that has been unleashed in the earth to oppose and supplant the purposes of God. It's beyond governments or organizations. It transcends all of those things. You see expressions of it all over the earth these days. In 1 John chapter 4 and verse 3 it says, "This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world".
I know the Book of Revelation describes for us an individual that will step onto the stage of human history, the embodiment of the spirit of Antichrist; an individual that will ultimately become a global ruler, the most beastly human leader the world would have ever known. The Book of Revelation is a description of this conflict between the lamb and the beast. If the Bible calls someone beastly, I would submit it's probably beyond our imagination. But John said back in the 1st century that the spirit of Antichrist was already in the world. In fact, the New Testament talks about the spirit of Antichrist. It talks about many Antichrist. There are many leaders throughout history that you could say certainly were a reflection of the spirit of Antichrist, who've killed multiplied millions of their citizens, imposed the most evil laws upon them. We could go through history with that until we ultimately come to the Antichrist.
Now, a bit of a definition is helpful. That little prefix anti, A-N-T-I, carries with it two meanings. The most obvious is against, but of an equal meaning is it's in place of. So the spirit of Antichrist has two objectives. It stands in oppositions to the purposes and the missions of the Messiah, the Christ, but it also has the opportunity or intends to take the place that was intended for the Christ. It's not just against. It wants that place of acknowledgement and worship and authority and power. It's very important. You see it in the world today. In fact, it's a worthwhile question for some reflection on your behalf at another time. In what ways do you see the spirit of Antichrist on display; where you work, in your profession, in our schools, among your friends, in your family systems, in our churches?
It's not difficult to find amongst professional Christians these days, training places for Christian leaders. There's, many instances are reluctant to acknowledge Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The uniqueness of Jesus is unfashionable. I have studied, and it's been a while since I was there so it isn't new. I have studied in some very celebrated theological institutions where if you talked about being born again they would mock you. "Saved from what"? It's the spirit of Antichrist. It's not new amongst us. In fact, it's become so familiar. Unless we shake ourselves a bit and shake off a bit of the dust and refocus our attention, we'll just imagine it's always been this way. We kind of take a counseling approach to life as if everything can be resolved by a discussion and a repositioning of perspective and an adjustment of attitude. Folks, if there is good and evil in play in the world, and the Bible tells us there is, everything isn't going to be resolved with a conversation. Oftentimes it's going to require an expression of authority.
Now, in Matthew chapter 5, it's the Sermon on the Mount. We're going to look at just a couple of verses. Jesus gives us some clarity around our assignment. He said, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me". Now, I know that's in the Bible and I know Jesus is talking, but that's weird. You're afraid to laugh at that? No, that's really weird. Jesus said if you are insulted, you're blessed. How many of you would like to be blessed by Jesus? About 10% of you. Well, I mean, if you really are, stand up. I'll spend some time insulting you in public. I've been a smart aleck since youth. I can probably get on a run. None of us would look forward to that, and yet Jesus said there's a time and a place where insult and ridicule brings a blessing. I want a little more information. "They'll persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me".
Oh, yeah, there is that. There are times if you're willing to identify for something as radical as say the sanctity of human life someone will say you're dangerous you should be removed from the public square, you should lose your job. Stand up for it anyway. "Rejoice and be glad," Jesus said, "because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". And then he gets really personal. He said, "You are the salt of the earth. And if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It's no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You're the light of the world, and a city on a hill cannot be hidden".
You're blessed when you're insulted, when you're persecuted, when you're bullied, when they falsely say all kinds of evil against you. That requires a little thought. What they say could be true, that you are standing up for the rights of the unborn. The false part is that makes you dangerous. Doesn't make you dangerous to the unborn, makes you dangerous to the spirit of Antichrist. They'll falsely say that if you believe marriage is between a man and a woman you're phobic of something; that you're narrow-minded, you're bigoted, you're filled with hate. That isn't true. It's false. You've chosen to take the counsel of Scripture. You can love people without endorsing every behavior. There's tremendous confusion in the church on this.
Now, you understand intuitively, if not just clearly, that if you stand for those biblical perspectives you're going to gather some labels: homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, bigoted, misogynistic. They're all labels that are leveled against persons who are willing to publicly express or acknowledge a Judeo-Christian or a biblical worldview. Do it anyway. If we borrowed Jesus's analogy, salt and light are very distinctive. They're not subtle. If your food is salted too heavily, you know it. If the water you're drinking has salt in it, you can tell even if you don't have a particularly discerning palate.
So to the absence of salt is very evident. Light is no different. A little bit of light in a dark place makes a tremendous impact. If the light is too bright, you can't bear to look. So Jesus isn't talking about subtle things. He said nobody lights light and then hides it. There's no such thing as undercover Christians, particularly those of us that live in free places. Now, persecution is never welcome. You know, in my lifetime that's been something that happened in other places, communist countries. But now we're not sure the communists are so bad so we're talking about those principles here. That's bizarre. We thought about persecution being in other places.
I can tell you this. Persecution when it arrives with your name on it always feels personal. You may consider it a general problem but not when it encroaches on your life. It's personal at that point. Persecution doesn't have to come from outside. Persecution can come into your life in terms of a spiritual attack, a demonic attack, a physical attack, an emotional attack just as much persecution from an adversary. As a participant in the kingdom of God, you have an adversary. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly; but Satan comes to steal, to kill and destroy, not just to discourage and bum you out. This is so much a part of the biblical narrative I think we read past it.
Father, I thank you that you have called us out of the dark into the kingdom of your light, that you have washed us and cleansed us and justified us. Forgive us for our attitude of complacency. Father, we've been willing to sit in a space at a specific time and imagine that we were interacting with the creator of all things. Forgive us for our indifference. Ignite a passion within us to know a living God, that we might yield our days to you beginning with each morning. In Jesus's name, amen.