The violent take it by force

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. —Matthew 11:12

Several recent national polls that measure societal trends reveal the values and morals of Americans are changing. When President Barack Obama ran on a platform of change in his first campaign for president, the acceptance and approval of abortion and same-sex marriage were not what the majority of those who voted for him were expecting. I am certain the voters would not have elected him president had he revealed his approval and included these issues in his first campaign speeches. However, he did win the second term as president—running on a platform that promised the American people change, which included his approval of abortion, same-sex marriage and gay rights. As we observe America changing we can see where past immoralities no longer exist because they have become the morality of our day. The sins of days gone by have become the righteousness of this era. From a biblical perspective we see and hear current immoral changes to the American way of life echoing the words of our Lord Jesus Christ down through the corridors of time: “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and the violent take it by force.” Modern Christianity in America is under a philosophical and spiritual attack that questions the very core of our Christian belief system: is sin still sin? The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines sin as “actions by which humans rebel against God, miss His purpose for their life, and surrender to the power of evil rather than to God.”

Christians are being forced to examine their understanding of harmatology (the study of sin), and answer several questions that will determine how Christianity in America will be practiced on our watch. How will the modern church handle the issues of sin? Is the Christian responsible to win souls into the kingdom of God by acknowledging that men and women are sinners who need the grace of God to save them? Should Christianity cease witnessing that the blood of Jesus Christ will forgive lost sinners of their sins, and clean up their sinful lifestyles? Is forgiveness of sins needed to change the hearts of sinful men and women—leading them to pursue a lifestyle of holy living? These modern philosophical and spiritual adjustments to Christianity tell pastors, teachers, evangelists and laypersons to save souls and teach them to continue living a lifestyle of sin contrary to the Word of God. Are the days of the Christian standing firm and teaching biblical morality outdated? Today, we are living in a society that is clearly attacking all that the Bible teaches as God’s purpose for mankind and holy living. Jesus addresses the issue of morality and sin in this statement:

“As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:8-13).

I want to offer a word of encouragement to those who would take a stand for holy living based on the Word of God. In the text Jesus Christ illustrates the life of John the Baptist as an example of how we will suffer when we stand for God, while assuring us that we are in good company. Therefore we must stand for righteousness, holy living, and all that promotes godly lifestyles. The above Scripture was spoken to the crowd and disciples of John the Baptist. John’s disciples were sent to ask Christ the question, “Are you the one (Messiah) or should we (John the Baptist) expect another?” John the Baptist was arrested and put in prison for denouncing the sin of adultery committed by King Herod. This answer is of great importance to John because he realizes the end of his life is near. If Christ was the Messiah John the Baptist would know that the task of preparing the way for the Messiah had been fulfilled, and his mission was accomplished. As Christians, we live in a society that attacks those who would stand for the gospel and Christian principles. Just like John the Baptist, Christians should serve as an example to the world by taking a stand against immorality for the sake of adding converts to the kingdom of God. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ and the kingdom of heaven in his first coming. Christians today are to prepare the way for Christ in his second coming. However, our mission and task is greater than that of John the Baptist. As we compel people to accept Christ as savior to enter the kingdom of heaven, let us be reminded that the calling of every Christian is to advance the cause of Christ. In this world, “that men will see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16b). Please know that just as Christians throughout the ages have suffered and struggled to advance the kingdom so must we. “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

Pastor, Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church
Terry Turner
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