, Muskogee, OK

January 6, 2014

Let Jesus Christ be your guide throughout new year

— As long as we live on earth, Christians will never be able to force morality on anyone, through more laws or any other means.

Sure, you can throw someone in jail for breaking the law. Sometimes, that is what’s needed as a measure of public safety. But that does not necessarily change a person’s moral stance on issues we face today. It does not bring them salvation or even a better life. Only Jesus can. That’s where we as Christians come in. But even after telling someone the Good News story of Christ and what he has done for us, it is still up to the individual to believe and act on Biblical truths.

Yes, I would love to say goodbye and good riddance to some of the immorality that saw an increase in 2013. However, it looks like we are only in for more in the new year.

Morality in our country is suffering more and more as laws, policies and rulings promoting habits, activities and lifestyles contrary to God’s word seem to be gaining steam. Here are just a few:

• Legalized gambling is addictive and promotes the love of money and the coveting of ill-gotten gain (Proverbs 10:2, 1 Tim. 6:9-10). The fact is, when a gambler wins, the money comes from someone who lost. The winnings on one end often result in tragic losses of finances, property and relationships on the other end. So far, I haven’t found anything in the Bible that speaks well of gambling or getting rich without working for it. In Proverbs, Solomon (the wisest man who ever lived) contrasts ill-gotten treasures with righteousness.

• Legalizing recreational marijuana will definitely get the drug into the hands of more people who want it for more than medicinal uses. Common sense says legalizing marijuana will not promote sober-mindedness (1 Peter 5:8), and unlike alcohol, there is no way to tell if the driver of a vehicle has smoked too much until it’s too late. God’s word condemns drunkenness over and over (Galatians 5:21).

• Legalizing homosexual marriage conflicts with Old and New Testament teachings (Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:10, 1 Cor. 7:2, Genesis 2:19-23). In Romans 1:18-32, God’s word condemns the acting out of both male to male, and female to female homosexual relations.

We all fight one sin or another. Gossip, malice, slander, gluttony, covetousness, pride, drunkenness, and sexual sin are just a few that the Bible speaks of. But just because we are tempted by a particular sin does not mean we have to give in to temptation and hopelessly embrace sin. God simply would not create someone in such a way that they would not be able to obey His will and escape hell.

Spiritual war is a very real thing, and we are all involved in it, just as people have been for thousands of years. Over and over, mankind has embraced God, and then turned its back on Him. In speaking of judgment day, Peter said, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” Christians are also called to be patient and love every sinner, even as we hate every sin.

If you are reading this and do not sense my sincerity and love for all people, please forgive me. I am, like many of you, only a sinner who strives daily to obey God’s will, but in the end, saved only by grace. Have a blessed week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or