Even casual observers know that the slippery slope of moral decline in the United States morphed into an avalanche in the past few decades. The sanctity of life, gender identity, sexual choices, treatment of illegal aliens, attacks on traditional Judeo-Christian ideals, revisionist history, political intrigue, socialist propaganda, and many other discussion points have moved from the whispered shadows into our living rooms. Vast media platforms financed by people entering stage left have resulted in our traditional values being depicted as extreme. You don't have to have a PhD from Harvard to see the domino effect created by these declines---loss of standards, confusion in the younger generations, rise of criminal activity, moral and ethical uncertainty, and more. You'd think that citizens identifying themselves as Christians would have greater influence on the social dynamics of modern culture. I mean, the demographers remind us that as many as 70% of our population identifies as Christian.
Which brings me to the Bible issues. A study by the people at LifeWay Research several years ago revealed that only 19% of people identifying themselves as Christians actually read the Bible every week. Whether or not any of that number really know the Bible is another arguable question. Go one step further and make the assumption that if you do not read the Bible you cannot know the Bible, and, as a result, the likelihood of it being lived is diminished greatly. Since the majority of our legal system was originally constructed on the traditional Christian worldview of our founders, it makes clear sense that these troubling demographics of our times are the fruit of neglecting these three imperatives about the Bible---Read it. Know it. Live it.
Pause a moment. Living Scriptural truth is not about abandoning our representative republic system of government or imposing theocratic rule. Life lived according to the truth of God's Word doesn't mean cloistering, closed communities, or withdrawal from public interaction. The Bible does provide instruction about submission to authority, obedience to the rule of law, and recognition of leadership hierarchy in guiding human relationships. Even more, however, Scripture speaks about life governed and guided by biblical principles. Reading the Bible and knowing the Bible are preliminary to living the Bible. It is a consistent Bible theme---
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Psalm 119:9, ESV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119: 105, ESV
But he answered, “It is written,‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4, ESV
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who
built his house on the rock.
Matthew 7:24, ESV
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly
my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8: 31-32, ESV
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among
whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.
Philippians 2: 14-16a, ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1: 22, ESV
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into
1 Peter 2: 2, ESV
That final verse, from the pen of Simon Peter, gives me pause. Peter knew that the pure spiritual milk of the Bible would enable us mere humans to grow up in our salvation. That's what living the Bible is all about, growing up in our spiritual lives, becoming mature believers. The disconnect so visible in the spiritual landscape of our country today happens because so many of us are spiritual babes, immature and often plain childish. It is immaturity in the Christian community that hinders the influence of Christ on the nation. Ergo, declining morality.
Scripture speaks about Christian influence too. Jesus said---
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be
restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under
people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do
people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in
the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your
good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5: 13-16, ESV
Peter also wrote---
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,
which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so
that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify
God on the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2: 11-12, ESV
It's the B.I.B.L.E.. Yes, that's the book for me. I must read it, know it, and live it.