Clear and Present Danger

Sunday Sermon 4.10.21

Our title phrase came from the American Sedition Act of 1918 and not the 1994 movie with Harrison Ford that may have first came to your mind. However, it vividly describes our current situation in the world today.

When the phrase was first used, it ultimately was viewed as the government overstepping its bounds of First Amendment freedoms. Again I say, that vividly describes our current situation in the world today.

But this blog today, is our weekly Sunday sermon, why the “political” opening?

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the churches and believers in Rome wrote these concerning words –

” And now, dear brothers and sisters, I’d like to give you one final word of caution: Watch out for those who cause divisions and offenses among you. When they antagonize you by speaking of things that are contrary to the teachings that you’ve received, don’t be caught in their snare!”

Romans 16:17 – TPT

In the midst of the huge Roman Empire and its extensive influence and power, Paul was warning believers to WATCH OUT for the clear and very present danger of divisions, offenses, antagonizing words and tearing down of valued teachings. Again, I say, doesn’t this vividly describe our current situation?

It is vital for us to be on guard and watch out for those things that cause divisions. From every corner of our society, we see and hear the evidences of a divided nation. The Greek word used here for divisions means, “dissension, division and sedition”. It would not take long to list those things that are causing us dissension, division and sedition, would it?

But we are told to watch out for them. In other words, according to the Greek, “take aim at them”, to shoot them down! Don’t swallow them, accept them or promote them. Watch for them as a spy (the original meaning) and take them down!

In addition, we are to watch out for offenses (TPT) or obstacles (NIV) that are put in our way. The picture is clear, someone or some thing has put a K-rail, an obstacle in front of us to stop our forward motion. This not only serves as a divider, but also as a barrier to make us stop. Paul is emotionally urging believers to be on guard for such things!

What is the barrier trying to stop? What forward momentum is being pressed against?

Paul’s words, “obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching that you have learned.” NIV

Well, what have I learned? What values was I taught from childhood and onward as I grew? Here are 20 things that immediately came to mind:

  • God loves everyone the same
  • color of your skin doesn’t make anyone better than another
  • respect authority
  • hard work pays off
  • nations have laws to obey
  • obeying laws is right
  • all people are flawed
  • everyone’s voice matters
  • don’t quit
  • money isn’t everything
  • relationships matter
  • choices have consequences
  • be truthful
  • there is good and evil
  • character counts
  • I am responsible for my actions
  • don’t follow the crowd
  • America is a great nation
  • America was founded on noble values
  • in a republic, the voters make policy

What values have you been taught?

Is it possible that there are obstacles being put in place to stop the advancement of these?

Geesh! We could list all kinds of moral values, religious values, human values. What about American, constitutional republic values? There are all kinds of things and values that we have been taught.

Paul is urging believers to KEEP AWAY FROM THESE OBSTACLES! Don’t allow them to stop what you have been taught. Don’t allow the K-rails to derail truth.

Here are some Godly truths that we have been taught: (or I hope we have been taught)

  • In the beginning God created
  • God created male and female in His image
  • God is no respecter of persons
  • God is love
  • God gave His son for our redemption
  • God does not condemn
  • We are all sinners
  • We have eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ

These truths put us all on a level playing field. Therefore, it is altogether fitting for us to say “we are all created equal” because equality comes from God and not man. Wasn’t that the cry of Dr. King?

1 Corinthians 1:9-10 tells us to keep yourself steady and strong. Live in unity with one another and put to rest any division that attempts to tear you apart.

2 Samuel 23:10,12 reminds us of 2 different men who STOOD THEIR GROUND and to whom God brought a great victory.

The clear and present danger we are facing is one that is seeking to divide us and get us to abandon the things that we have been taught.

Humans are designed for change. America is equipped to change. But the kind of change we allow is up to us.

Are we willing to stand our ground and “fight” for the values that matter to us? Or are we too lazy to confront those enemies that are attacking the very values our life is built upon? This is an urgent cry! Not only from the elder statesman – Paul, but from the call of the Spirit.

This is a very clear and present danger to you, in your sphere of influence.

You have been taught about your rights as a citizen. You have been taught of your rights as a believer. What are you allowing to stand in the way of the forward advancement of those? What will you allow to divide you from another human?

One of the characters from 2 Samuel 23, Eleazar, fought so hard to defend his territory that his hand froze to his sword. He didn’t stop until the job was done, victory won and his hand had to be pried from his sword. Will we stand against the antagonization, against being silenced and cancelled until our Sword has to be pried from our hand? Will we allow the roadblocks to stop the advancement of what we have learned?

I believe we must stand our ground to see these values and truths not be lost, watered down, removed, or devalued. It is incumbent upon us to be on guard for divisions and obstacles and “fight” against them, just as unyielding as Eleazar.

In 1967, vandals broke into the Capitol building and slashed along the bottom canvas of the 20 x 30 foot oil painting called, “Signing of the Constitution”. It was subsequently removed and repaired in 1968 and eventually returned to the Capitol where it continues to hang.

In my humble opinion, I see what happened to that historical painting in 1967 as a foreshadowing of what is happening now to and in our nation and its constitution. Attempts are being made to slash away at it, damage it, and remove it.

The cornerstones of that document, free speech, free exercise of religion and freedom of the press are being slashed. K-rails are being installed to keep these things that we have learned from advancing. Obstacles have been placed in our way causing divisions and antagonizing speech has been leveled incessantly at those who hold to such values.

Scriptures calls to us to WATCH OUT. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM (such things), because there is a clear and present danger for all of us. BEWARE.

Scriptures calls for us to keep steady and strong against all forces that seek to bring division and tear us apart. Scripture empowers us to “fight the good fight of faith”. Scripture warns us of such a clear and present danger.

Will you heed the call? Will you “fight” for what you have learned?

I pray you will and are…

Go with God.

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