Charles Stanley - Standing on Your Convictions
The Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord". Then He says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people". This is a time for strong convictions. And He says, "Righteousness exalts a nation". That is righteousness lifts up a nation. Righteousness protects a nation. Righteousness is the kind of attitude God wants in every nation. That is, honoring Him as the Living God. So when we look at our nation we have to ask ourselves the question, "Are we honoring God"? "Blessed is the nation that exalts the Lord, honors the Lord, lifts up the Lord".
Are we a nation that is lifting up the Lord, or is something happening to our nation? Well the truth is something is happening to the nation. There are those who would like to tear us down. There are those who would like to divide us. There are those who would like to overtake us. There are those who would like to war against us, and it is time for God's people to recognize that freedom doesn't come cheaply, and that constant freedom is always under the threat of the enemy. And we are under the threat of the enemy. The devil, for example, and all of his forces, has really sighted in on America. And if you'll think about all the things that are going on today that are ungodly, unacceptable, unbiblical, that fight against what we believe, what we trust in, we know that we are in a battle.
And there are some folks who want to put their head in the sand, say, "Well, it's always been this way". It hasn't always been this way. And I can think back years ago when one Sunday morning the Japanese Imperial Navy and Air Force attacked this country, but immediately there was this response, this awesome response of young people and older people all over this country going to the offices where they could sign up to be in the military, in every single branch. And I can remember some of them telling me that they were signing up for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines or whatever, and all across this country people stepped forward because they believed in who we were and are and they were willing to die for it, willing to fight for it.
And I think about how many of them marched away from home and their families, never to see them again. But they were going for a cause, for a reason. They were committed to something. They had a loyalty to this country. They believed this nation was worth saving. To defend us at all cost, and the cost was very, very high. Very important that you and I have convictions, biblical convictions. In those days, we were a nation of conviction, and the awesome response of men and women all over this country so quickly was evident that there was conviction, there was belief, there was commitment, there was faithfulness, loyalty, devotion to these United States.
So how would you fit in that category? Would you say that you are an obedient child of the Living God? Would you say that your life exalts the Living God? Would you say that you can be counted on to serve your country and to serve the Lords Jesus Christ? Because all of us who are saved are under divine guidance of our commander, Jesus Christ, the Living Lord. It is our responsibility in this warfare to fight a good battle. That is, not with arms, but with our lips, with the Word of God, with a message of God that can transform this world and defend this country in and every circumstance of life. This is a time for strong convictions. So I would ask you, "Are your convictions strong or do they just sort of come and go? Are you affected by the times, by the seasons, what's popular? Are you what you are and what you intend to be? What would you say"?
And so, think about this. To have a strong conviction is to be so thoroughly convinced something is true that you are willing to take a stand for it regardless of the consequences? That's what all of these men and women did when we were under attack. They were committed to preserving this nation, preserving what we believed and what we stood for. This is a day and hour when God's people need to take a very, very strong stand. No, none of this giving into ideas that we know are not proper. We're living in a nation that's under attack, and we who are God's people are going to be the ones who have to stand and preserve it, and He will be on our defense as long as we exalt Him as Lord, as long as we obey Him as Lord, and as long as we honor His Word, is our compass for a way of life. Would you consider yourself a faithful, loyal, devoted child of the Living God? A Bible believer, a Bible carrier, you sing the gospel songs, you share your faith, you're afraid of nothing, you have the courage to say, "I'm a follower of Jesus Christ no matter what". Is that who you are? If you are, say amen.
That's who we need Christians to be all over this country. This is a time for strong convictions. Because, think about what's happening. Morally we're under attack. We have never been under such an attack as we're under today. Morally, it's all out warfare. When I think about only a few years ago, that husbands and wives respected one another, that divorce was a thing sort of once in a while. And then when I think about the morality of today, when I think about how people treat each other and what they're beginning to believe. The ideology today is, do what pleases you, what honors you, what satisfies you, what makes you happy, what gratifies you. That is not the way God's people live. And that's why it's so important that we who are Christians take firm, strong stands. We don't give in. We don't give up. We don't give out. We do what is right no matter what.
You cannot ignore sin. You cannot compromise with sin. Every child is in danger to some degree, every teenager as well as every adult, because the forces of evil against us are coming at us in every direction, because they want to destroy our way of life, want to reinterpret the Word of God, want to remove the cross, which has been a symbol of Christianity from the very beginning. Why is the cross such an obstacle to their happiness and joy and so-called peace? Isn't it interesting that the sight of the cross makes them so uncomfortable? And they don't understand why. It's something about holiness, righteousness. It's something about sin and disobedience. It's something about the crucified Savior. It's something about Jesus. It's something about the blood of Christ.
No wonder they want to remove the cross. They want to remove the Word of God and anything that reminds them of sacredness, holiness, righteousness, obedience to God, because they don't want to be obedient to God. They want free-wheeling life, to do as they please, when they please, how they please at all cost and let somebody else pay the price. That's the nation we're living in. You may not like it, but if you open your eyes and open your ears, you'll see that what I'm saying is absolutely the truth. There are people who don't want to believe it, don't want to hear it, and they don't want to hear it because they don't want to be convicted, because they know it's the truth. And so, what we have to ask as believers, "How are we to respond to the world in which we're living"? Because listen to me, it's not going to get any better unless the people of God stand strong and overcome evil with good, believing and trusting and yielding to and obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.
Obedience to Christ is a powerful, powerful tool. And the scripture says, "If we honor our Lord, He will exalt the nation". Right now, we're not being exalted. We're being torn down. We're being criticized. We are being undermined by forces that do not want us to believe in Jesus Christ. Religions are against us. Ideologies are against us, but they don't win as long as people who love the Lord God stand true to the God we serve. We're in a warfare. It reminds me of the kind of price our forefathers paid in order for you and I to be able to sit here today in a free country and have the freedoms we have and the prosperity that we have. But you can't take it for granted. We can't sit around and say, "Well, things are so good". Things are good but you know what? As long as you have things that are so good, some people think everything is good.
But I think about how awesome God has been to us and what's going on today. And I think about it in this light. We have become... in fact there are seven words that describe America today. You say, "All right, well are you pessimistic"? No, I'm not pessimistic. I'm realistic. I know, I see the truth and I know that we must stand firm and strong and wake up. As I describe it in seven words: Immoral, driven by sexual lust. Look what has happened to America sexually, and everything that is pure and holy and righteous has been manipulated to satisfy the lust and gratify those who want something God never intended for them to have.
How do you keep your children pure before God? When they turn on a television set, and not what they intended to see or want to see, but that which has been presented to them to see, it's wicked, vile, sinful, and God hates it. And what He gave us as an awesome means of communication, we have decided to communicate filth rather than the gospel. Thank God that we can preach the gospel on the television and radio, but there are those who would take us off if they could. And secondly, they are fueling it with what is damaging to our nation.
Then there is greed driven by the desire for wealth. Money, money, money, money, money, whatever it takes to make more money. We steal, lie, cheat and murder in order to make more money, greedy. And then we are prideful. We want more of this and more of that, and we boast of what we have. And we take it, we take for... well, what we do is we take credit for so much of what God has done for us. Then we're indulgent. We're driven by the desire for happiness. We'll do anything to feel good, anything that we think will make us happy.
Here's the problem. The devil's gift of happiness never comes cheaply. It always comes very expensively. People become alcoholics, they become drug addicts, they become sex addicts, you name it. Sin has a way of deceiving people that they would never believe they're being deceived. And then, the world has a way of explaining it. And before long, even good people are convinced and persuaded that their sin is now alright. There are many things today that years ago we would've never considered right, absolutely disobedient to God. Today, we have redefined it.
Let me tell you something. You can't redefine sin and make it acceptable to God. Sin is disobedience to God. Sin is violating the law of God. Sin's breaking the truth of God's Word. This is a day of battle, so you need to understand and get ready to stand firm and strong and make the Word of God a part of your vocabulary, not something you read in the morning or in the evening only, but a part of your vocabulary. What does the Word of God say? And when you're confronted with people, you can just give them this one verse. Well, I hear what you're saying but remember this, here's the indescribable, indisputable, unchangeable law of God: What you're sowing, you're going to reap and you cannot change the law of God.
People don't want to believe that. They're thinking that they can sin today and forget it. You sin today, you may forget it, but not for long. This is the society we are living in. People say, "Well, I don't like to hear that". Naturally you don't like to hear it. We'd like to hear that everything is wonderful and everything's peaceful and God is good. And we sing that song, God is so good, He is so good, but He is also a judge, and He also hates unrighteousness, and listen, God hates everything that would kill you and me and destroy us and divide us and turn us away from Him. There are those who are very slothful. They don't want to work. They want the government to pay their way. And they wonder why some people have more than they do because they don't want to work.
There are some people who want to work, can't get a job. We feel certainly for them. But I think about people who are slothful. Slothfulness is not of God. God expects us to do our best at whatever we do. And even if we can't do what we want to do, we can do what we can do, until one day we can do what we want to do. Slothfulness is to be lazy and excuse ourselves for the process. Ungrateful, how grateful we ought to be that we know the truth of the gospel. How grateful we ought to be that God has been so good to us, to preserve the truth in this country. And from this nation, every nation on earth has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ in some form or other. That doesn't mean that every single tribe, every single person, but every nation on earth. And God has opened the doors on television and radio, short-wave, missionaries by the thousands sharing the gospel.
That is our responsibility because we are the most blessed nation. And there's more money given to missions from this country than any other nation on earth. We have been so blessed. But likewise, we have become ungrateful. And listen. Here's when you start being ungrateful, when you forget the source of your blessing. When we forget that every good thing that comes our way comes from God. He's the source of our goodness, source of our forgiveness. He's the source of everything that we enjoy in life. Ungrateful. I think about children who are ungrateful toward their parents. Who taught them to be that way?
And I think about people who are ungrateful for the job that they have, for the work that they have, for the opportunities they have. I think about so many college students who spend their parents' money, put them in debt. They get an education and spend their days at college drinking and carousing. Get out to get a job, can't get a job, can't pay it off, parents pay. I mean, you think about all the things that are going on that are disastrous in the life of this nation. And so irreverence, no respect for the Word of God, no honor of Almighty God. And so when you put those seven words together, that's the society we're living in.
So you say, "Well, we shouldn't be, we be discouraged? No. And here's the reason we shouldn't be. Our God is bigger than the world's sin. Our God is greater than the world's knowledge and wisdom and understanding. Our God is sufficient and adequate for everything we face in life. Our responsibility is obey Him, trust Him, follow Him, believe Him. The fact that the unbelieving world has pushed so hard, there is a generation coming along that is going to make a statement, that we are not putting up with this. We're going to be true to Almighty God. Now their music is a little too fast for us, probably, and the words are such that we can't even keep up with them, and I agree with it. And my son and I have lots of discussions about that, but that's not the issue. The issue is, what do you believe? The issue is, how do you stand? The issue is, what are your convictions? What are you living by? And I've seen enough of those large groups now, and see their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I can't even sing some of the songs they sing, but, I've watched the words when they put them up.
And I think this is the Word of God. This is Your Word, this is the truth. I can't sing like that, but this is, they can... and I went to one meeting not long ago, and I would never have believed it. They had all kind of music there, but I stood for three solid hours. I can't stand that long. One time I did sit down for about fifteen minutes, and I thought nobody else is sitting down but me, so I'm not going to sit down. And listen to the preaching of the gospel and listening to music that I couldn't even keep up with, but I saw something happening. There's something very, very good happening in this country. And we who have been around a pretty good while, we need to recognize there's something good in all that. It may not be the way we would do it, that's not the issue, because, the way you and I have been doing it all these years, it doesn't mean that it's right or wrong, this is the way, this is way we worship God.
This is who we are. Doesn't mean that somebody else is wrong. And so, the issue is, what are their convictions? And their convictions are strong. They believe the Word of God, and they honor the cross, and the songs that they sing are Biblical songs. I may not keep up with how they do it, but I watch the Words and I think, "God, I believe that. I can't sing it that way, but I believe that". That's the truth, praise God! Keep on singing it the way you sing it. Listen, we have basic convictions we cannot afford to surrender, to yield, to give up, because, listen, these kids who are growing up, their convictions are the result of the convictions they've seen in us.
And so, while our generation is moving along, that generation is coming along. And they're coming along strong. And God is blessing it and God is using it, and God is springing up churches that are grocery store here, a theatre there, a warehouse here. Now full of young people who are loving God, trusting God, believing God, bringing their friends to hear the Word of God. And every single person who has the gospel within him or her is a missionary. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And for most part, the church throughout these years, people have believed that that's the job of appointed missionaries who are trained to be missionaries, who go to college, go to seminary and be sent to a field. No. Every single person who has Jesus in their heart is a missionary. That means you are one. Because think about what you have. You have, watch this carefully.
Are you listening? Say amen. You have the knowledge within you to change a person's eternal destiny from eternal separation from God to eternal life with God. That's what you have. You have the message that transforms a person's life for all eternity. You cannot afford to keep it to yourself. Our responsibility is to share it, to tell it. You say, "Well, people don't like it. Listen to what Jesus did not say. Hm-hm-hm-hm. Jesus didn't say, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to those who invite you. He didn't say that... or to those where it's easy. He didn't say that. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, period. Did He know that many people would lose their life in the process? Yes, He did. But think about this. He is the perfect example. Laying down His life on the cross, He showed us how to live, He showed us how to die, He showed us how to impact the world.
That cross that the unbelievers want to eliminate, want to remove from their towns and their villages and their buildings, that cross symbolizes the most powerful force in the world, the most loving force in the world, the greatest force in the world. The greatest message the world has ever known. So is it any wonder that the wicked, the sinful, the unbelievers do not want to have to look at a cross? You know, I look at it and I see it for what it really is. I think sometime they must look at it and spiritually speaking, when they see the cross their conscience lights up, mm-mm-mm-mm-mm. Something's going on.
So would you say that your life is a good witness? Would you say that people who know you unmistakably know that you are a follower of Jesus Christ? If not, are you trying to keep it quiet? Are you trying to cover up that, are you one of those Bible-believing persons? Do you want to be silent about what you believe? And I would say to you that if you're not a Christian, never trusted Christ as your Savior. Maybe you've just thought about it, but, in fact, maybe you've been turned off about it. Well let me tell you something. If you're turned off about it, you've not heard the truth. You may have seen something, heard something you didn't like, but here's the truth. God loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, nail-pierced to die for your sins. When He died on the cross, the Heavenly Father accepted His Son's death as full payment for your sin. And if you're willing to accept His Son, Jesus, as your Savior, your sins are forgiven, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and you are forever a child of God. Amen?
Father, we thank You that You have given us the truth by which we live. Given it to us in Your precious Word, to sustain us in every circumstance of life. And we thank You for it in Jesus' name. Amen.