In our day, Christians have come under attack. I know that when I say this, if you live in the Western world, and in America in particular, you're probably thinking of loss of freedoms, removal of religious symbols from public sites and more, but that's not the heart of it. In fact, these things manifest only as symptoms of a deeper problem, the spiritual battle behind the earthly one.
Every minute of every day I feel spiritual pressure bearing down upon my chest like a lead weight, seeking to draw me into compliance with a system of thought and spirituality at odds with a biblical worldview. In Bible times the source of this pressure bore the name "Baal" or "Molech," the demon worshiped by the nations surrounding Israel that pressured them into compromising their faith and devotion.
Then as now, this demon seduces nations and cultures into self-focus, lapses of integrity based on failure to consider the needs of others, sexual immorality, sexual perversion, devaluation of human life (sacrifice of the children by fire back then—sacrifice of the children by abortion today) and compromise of true devotion to God.
It happened to Israel and it's happening to us. We might call this influence secular humanism, post-modernism or simply liberalism, but at root it's the same deception, the same old demonic principality that has been at work for thousands of years, warping the thinking of entire cultures. In our day, it cloaks its deluding influence in right-sounding promises of prosperity, equality, the rights of the individual and freedom, but delivers bondage, corruption and death. History demonstrates that cultures infected by this demonic influence inevitably deteriorate and finally disintegrate.
"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!" (Isaiah 5:20-21).
The relentless pressure of Baal/Molech upon the minds and hearts of men and women increasingly leads believers to accept as normal what God calls abomination—all in the name of tolerance and love. The result, however, is hatred and division as society polarizes into conflicting camps gathered around irreconcilable differences of philosophy and spirituality. We live in such a time.
Second Timothy 3:1-5 says, "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power."
The demonic weight I feel comes as pressure to comply, to wear me down so that I cave in and agree with the delusions the culture around me has accepted as truth. I will not. There can be no compromise with unrighteousness. I carry, however, another weight of concern that I find equally heavy, a temptation just as demonic as the one I've outlined. Righteousness must never include condemnation of those who fail to stand as we do, nor can it ever be allowed to lead us to withdraw love and grace from anyone. The spirit of religion seduces just as powerfully as does the spirit of Baal/Molech and destroys just as readily. It, too, masquerades as something holy and good, but just as certainly brings death.
I cry out, therefore, for us who cling to biblical truth to stand our ground for righteousness and a pure passion for God, but to do so always in the gentleness and love with which Jesus treated every sinner He ever met. Only the Pharisee stood worthy of His condemnation. Let us absorb not only the truth of the Word of God, but the heart of the Father that infuses it.
R. Loren Sandford is the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver. He is a songwriter, recording artist and worship leader, as well as the author of several books, including Understanding Prophetic People, The Prophetic Church and his latest, Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare, which are available with other resources at the church's website.