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How to win the CULTURE War – The Holiness of His Saints

In today’s society, a prevailing concern looms large on the horizon—the diminishing reverence for God. The erosion of the fear of God is a disquieting trend that has seeped into the very fabric of our culture. It is a malaise that, if left unchecked, threatens to cast a long shadow over our collective moral compass. Yet, amidst this backdrop of spiritual decline, a beacon of hope exists, a remedy divinely ordained to combat societal decay—the holiness of the saints.

Throughout history, the world has persistently spurned this heavenly prescription, opting instead for its own self-styled solutions. This rejection is emblematic of the timeless struggle between light and darkness, a struggle poignantly captured in the words of Jesus Himself: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). In these challenging times, we delve into the vital role of sanctity in navigating the turbulent currents of our contemporary world.

The following verses also speak to the atmosphere of the church gathering. In postmodern seeker-sensitive churches, the contemporary laid-back, easy-going, trend can lead to becoming familiar with God, assuming friendship with God, without the priority of a bond-slave / servant posture.  Some traditional churches, try to imitate the HOLINESS presence of God with Sacred Rituals, special kingly robes, and awe-inspiring architecture, where God Himself declares these things do not impress Him: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.” (Ps 66:3)

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. (Ps 89:7)

By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified. (Leviticus 10:3)

You shall . . . reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD” (Lev. 19:30).

“In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple” (Ps. 5:7)

Never forget that the HOLY Spirit is the “Holy” Spirit, not just a good or friendly Spirit. Thus, all spiritual activity and even mystical experiences should lead to more and deeper holiness and sanctification.  

A Proximity Issue

The primary reason for our lack of fear and reverence for God often stems from a proximity issue – when we truly behold His face in faith by how the revelation of the Holy Spirit, fear naturally follows. As Job declared, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I abhor myself” (Job 42:5–6 NKJV). Likewise, in the face of the glory of the LORD, Ezekiel fell face down on the ground, and Abram, too, prostrated himself before God (Ezekiel 1:28; Genesis 17:3). The fathers of old extended the blessing of bowing to their Heavenly Father only by means of how God declared His blessing upon them [1]

Paradoxically, Lucifer once dwelled in the very presence of God, basking in His glorious splendor as one of the finest creatures for the purpose of worship. However, within the recesses of his heart, he nurtured a hidden pride, gradually shifting his focus from God’s awe-inspiring, all-encompassing glory to a self-awareness of his own magnificence. This transformation occurred because of God’s relational nature, granting His creatures a free will to draw close because He is love. His willingness to draw us close, share His glory, an embodiment of friendliness, love, and kindness. In such intimate moments, we sometimes misappropriate our free will to shift the focus from Him to the very glory He gave us. And within that split second, we may discontinue honoring His attributes of absolute holiness, truth and righteousness above the glory He gave us.  

Sadly, many who love the Lord and delight in His presence, which brings His blessing of greatness, can inadvertently overlook His awe-inspiring power – capable of both giving life and bringing destruction. David acknowledges this: “Your gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35. Yes, it is true that God desires us not to be repelled by our fear of Him, but that the very fear of God brings us closer to His holy love. Fear that repels implies hiding and running away from God.  Therefore, the apostle John declares: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18). The awe-inspiring fear of the Lord is reserved for those who like Moses, run towards God in the face of His power. See how the people “begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.” (Heb 12:19); versus Moses who endured the Lord’s presence to receive His instructions.  

Defining The Fear of God

There is also a case to be made regarding the demons who are afraid of God, awaiting condemnation (James 2:19).  Versus they who have a referential fear of the Lord to obey Him above all things.  When a student or athlete has reverential, admiration and respect for his or her coach, they intrinsically want to obey every instruction.  

Today we seek to first find our identity, our purpose, and destiny. We say things like: “You need to find your identity in Christ” the order is wrong. We must First find HIS identity in us.  We should enquire and be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, then we will find our purpose in Him.   The more we KNOW Him, the better we will understand ourselves.  This is why Psychology without knowledge of God is vanity.  Solomon, who was the most brilliant mind who ever lived, reckoned at the end of all human experience: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.”  (Eccl 12:13) 

The State of the World

No other sector of society mirrors our moral decline as aptly as the film industry. Age restrictions and PG rating boards are facing challenges that suggest their potential obsolescence. Graphic violence, explicit sexual content, and drug use in movies and TV shows have pushed the boundaries of what was once considered acceptable for specific age ratings, with productions like “Game of Thrones” and “Sex Education” exemplifying this trend. Streaming services and online platforms often bypass traditional age-based ratings, making content accessible to a wide range of ages.

The State of the Church

Sadly, this lack of reverence for God is not confined to the world outside the church; it has also permeated the hearts of believers. As the Scriptures rightly state, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18; Psalm 36:1). Regrettably, the choice to fear the Lord has become a rare one these days (Proverbs 1:29). However, it’s crucial for us to understand that when we make the conscious decision to walk in the fear of the Lord, we open the door to rich blessings (Psalm 112:1-10) and the potential for our church to grow significantly (Acts 9:31). The Spirit of God embodies the fear of the Lord, and our God takes delight in it (Isaiah 11:2, 3).

Our True North

The concept of the fear of the Lord is not a minor one in the Bible. In fact, it is emphasized repeatedly throughout Scripture. The phrase “fear of the Lord” appears 27 times in the Bible, “fear of God” 8 times, “fear Him” (referring to God) 23 times, “fear the Lord” 33 times, “fear God” 17 times, “feared God” 5 times, “feared the Lord” 10 times, “feared Me” (with reference to God) once, “fear Me” (with reference to God) 8 times, “fears God” 4 times, “fears the Lord” 7 times, and “fears Him” (with reference to God) once (NKJV). That’s at least 144 references to fearing God in the Bible, with 19 of those in the New Testament. The sheer volume of references underscores the significance of this concept.

Some might argue that the fear of God is outdated and no longer relevant in our understanding of God’s love and grace. While it is essential to appreciate God’s goodness, we must also heed J.I. Packer’s warning in his classic work, “Knowing God,” that we should always consider both the “goodness and severity of the Lord.” Focusing solely on God’s goodness can lead to a distorted view of Him. The apostle Paul, in the New Testament, urged believers to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Additionally, in Ephesians 5:21, Paul encouraged believers to “submit to one another in the fear of God.” Even the apostle Peter emphasized the importance of fearing God in 1 Peter 2:17. The early church, as depicted in the book of Acts, was characterized by “walking in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). Moreover, the book of Revelation includes the command to “fear God” as part of the “everlasting gospel” (Revelation 14:6-7).

Our Lord Jesus Himself instructed us not to fear those who can harm the body but to fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). This teaching by Jesus underscores two vital points: first, we should not fear human beings, and second, we should fear God. This fear of God is rooted in the awareness of His ability to judge and the severity of that judgment.

Therefore, we should walk with a healthy “fear,” knowing that we will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ. As Paul encouraged the Philippians, we should “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13).

What is the Fear of the Lord?

To Fear God is to be in AWE of Him – to honor, tremble, revere, esteem, respect, value, and venerate Him more than anything or anyone else.

 A deep-seated reverence for God compels us to seek His approval above all else. In Hebrews 12:28-29, we are reminded that we serve a God who is like a “consuming fire“. Our reverence and awe for Him are integral to our understanding of the fear of God. This fear involves not only acknowledging God’s greatness but also obeying His commandments (Psalm 112:1; Deuteronomy 6:2; Ecclesiastes 12:14). It is exemplified by figures like Abraham, who obeyed God’s voice without withholding his beloved son (Genesis 22:12).

The fear of the Lord also entails hating evil (Proverbs 8:13). Figures like Job and Joseph exemplified this by shunning evil in their lives (Job 1:1, 8; Genesis 42:18; 39:9). A genuine Christian is one who remains true to their faith even when no one is watching.

But the fear of God is not limited to avoidance of evil; it also requires us to do good. Leviticus 19:14-18, 32 teaches us that we should not curse the blind, be, impartial, avoid gossip, harbour grudges, or seek revenge. In essence, it calls us to respect and show kindness to others. This fear of God also extends to prohibiting us from taking advantage of each other (Leviticus 25:17, 36, 43).

The blessings that accompany the fear of the Lord are abundant. God bestows His goodness upon those who fear Him (Psalm 31:19). His angels encamp around them for protection (Psalm 34:7), and they lack nothing (Psalm 34:9). Those who fear the Lord enjoy a close relationship with Him, and He reveals His ways to them (Psalm 25:12-14). God fulfills their desires, hears their cries, and saves them (Psalm 145:19).

The fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; Psalm 111:10) and adds length to one’s life (Proverbs 10:27). It provides a secure fortress for their children (Proverbs 14:26), protects them from the snares of death (Proverbs 14:27), and allows them to live contentedly, untouched by trouble (Proverbs 29:23).

Ultimately, it brings riches, honor, and life from God (Proverbs 22:4).

The Lack of Fear…

In contrast, those who do not fear God may find themselves fearing other things such as false gods, magic, witchcraft, people, the Second Coming, judgment, and hell. The Bible contains many “fear nots,” but they are directed towards those who fear God. Those who do fear God can be as bold as lions (Psalm 91:5, 6). As Oswald Chambers aptly put it, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

The day will come when the Lord distinguishes between those who fear Him and those who do not (Malachi 3:16-4:3). The choice is ours. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord, for they will partake in the rich blessings and protection that come with it.

Only Way To Win

In “How to Win the Culture War,” Dr. Peter Kreeft passionately emphasizes the profound importance of sanctity as the ultimate weapon to secure victory in the cultural battle. He calls upon readers to recognise the existence of this war, identify the true enemies (demons and sin), and fully commit to the path of holiness. Kreeft believes that society is in a state of crisis, with many individuals blissfully unaware of its gravity. He contends that saints, individuals who offer God their entire beings and hold nothing back, possess the transformative power to bring about positive societal change. He challenges readers to imagine the impact of even a few individuals wholly dedicated to sanctity, drawing parallels to figures like Mother Teresa.

Ultimately, Kreeft’s message underscores that sanctity is the key to victory in the cultural war, as it represents a commitment to spiritual warfare and an unwavering dedication to God’s transformative power.

Different Priority Operating System

In a world driven by the relentless pursuit of being first in everything, whether it’s the race for riches, strength, intelligence, or excellence, Christianity offers a striking contrast with its profound call to prioritize virtues that are often overlooked by worldly standards.

While the world clamours to be the richest, Christianity calls us to:

  • be the first to give generously to those in need,
  • share our blessings selflessly, to surrender our attachments to material wealth.
  • be the first to forgive those who wrong us
  • love our neighbours unconditionally
  • to humble ourselves before God and one another. It is a radical shift from the self-centred ambitions of the world to the selfless and compassionate values championed by the Christian faith, challenging us to redefine what it truly means to be first in the eyes of God.

Marital Covenantal Union and Holiness

In the face of societal challenges and increasing social depravity, the concept of marital holiness and union takes on a profound significance. Much like a well-functioning zipper, Christ-centered marriages serve as models of union, harmony, togetherness, duty, and sacrificial love. These marriages aim to mirror the perfect unity found within the Godhead itself. This union extends to various dimensions of life, including the spiritual, sexual, intellectual, social, vocational, spatial, physical, and emotional aspects.

In such unions, there is no lack but rather a striving for perfect oneness, resembling the divine unity within the Trinity. As society grapples with increasing fragmentation, Christ-centred marriages stand as beacons of hope, demonstrating that holiness and sustained union are attainable despite societal challenges.

Holiness in Business

Holiness is not confined to personal or spiritual realms alone; it also has a significant place in the business world. Christian-based companies have a unique opportunity to embody holiness by being redemptive to their staff and workforce.

This means creating environments where employees are valued, treated with respect and provided opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Moreover, these companies can serve their customers with diligence, precision, accuracy, and a commitment to delivering high-quality products and services that genuinely enrich people’s lives.

By integrating holiness into their business practices, Christian-based companies can not only thrive in the marketplace but also contribute positively to the well-being of their employees and customers, reflecting the values of Christ in all aspects of their operations.

Holiness in Academia

Holiness has a crucial place in academia as well. When individuals pursue knowledge and understanding, they can begin by looking at the world through the lens of the Creator, acknowledging that God made everything good. Holiness and sanctity of thought in academia involve a commitment to truthfulness, balance, and the discovery of reliable facts that can withstand scrutiny.

It also entails building a framework for right living, one that has been proven through the ages and is rooted in the wisdom of God. This perspective encourages academics to seek and promote knowledge that aligns with moral and ethical principles, contributing to the development of a more virtuous and just society.

Holy Relationships 

Ephesians 4:32 advises, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you,” promoting an atmosphere of grace and reconciliation in our interactions. Proverbs 11:3 states, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them,” highlighting the importance of honesty and integrity in relationships. Additionally, Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that “a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” emphasizing the value of faithful and loyal friendships. Adhering to these biblical principles, is how we keep our relationships holy, honoring God and blessing those we connect with in our lives.

Personal Holiness

Holiness and sanctity represent the highest and most fulfilling way to live life. Life can be likened to a staircase where the ultimate goal is to ascend to the highest level of mature Christ-like values and characteristics, embodying qualities such as nobility, truthfulness, humility, meekness, gentleness, goodness, patience, perseverance, and tolerance.

In such a state of holiness, one naturally avoids breaking ethical and moral boundaries, respecting the inherent dignity of others and striving to avoid causing harm or hurt. This pursuit of sanctity not only brings personal fulfilment but also contributes positively to the well-being of those around us, fostering a more harmonious and compassionate society.

Practical Steps:

  1. Prayer and Worship: Begin and end your day with prayer and worship. Set aside time to commune with God, express gratitude, seek guidance, and surrender your concerns. This is like tending to a relationship with a loved one through regular conversation.
  2. Study Scripture: Dive deep into the Bible regularly. Reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture is like nourishing your soul. It’s akin to feeding your spiritual self with the wisdom and teachings of the Lord.
  3. Moral Integrity: Uphold moral and ethical integrity in all your actions. Make choices that align with your faith and values. This is like building a strong and upright structure in your character.
  4. Compassion and Love: Show love and compassion to others, just as Christ demonstrated. Treat everyone with kindness, empathy, and respect, whether they share your faith or not. This reflects the love of God.
  5. Service and Charity: Engage in acts of service and charity. This can be like extending a helping hand to those in need, following Jesus’ example of selflessness.
  6. Honesty and Truthfulness: Be honest and truthful in your words and actions. Honesty is like a clear mirror that reflects the righteousness of God.
  7. Humility: Cultivate humility in your interactions. Remember that you are a servant of God, and all good comes from Him. This is like a gentle stream that flows through your relationships, preventing pride.
  8. Forgiveness: Forgive others as Christ forgave you. Holding grudges is like carrying heavy burdens; forgiveness is like setting those burdens down.
  9. Generosity: Be generous with your time, resources, and talents. Generosity is like sowing seeds of kindness that bear fruit in the lives of others.
  10. Respect for Creation: Show stewardship for the environment and all of God’s creation. Care for the Earth as a reflection of God’s creative work.
  11. Faithful Commitment: Be committed to your faith journey. This is like staying the course on a lifelong pilgrimage, knowing that your ultimate destination is with the Lord.
  12. Cultivate Community: Build and nurture a community of believers. Share in fellowship and support one another in your faith walk.
  13. Openness to Growth: Be open to spiritual growth and transformation. Like a tree that grows and bears fruit, allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life.
  14. Practical Discernment: Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your decisions and actions. This is akin to using a compass to navigate life’s choices.
  15. Reflect and Repent: Regularly reflect on your actions and attitudes, and be willing to repent and seek forgiveness when needed. This is like keeping your heart and soul cleansed and refreshed.

[1] John Paul Bevere, The Awe of God: The Astounding Way a Healthy Fear of God Transforms Your Life