Inward Decay: Our Greatest Threat!
The following is from the files of Dr. Thomas B. Warren (1920-2000) and remains relevant today.
History teaches that a civilization’s greatest threat is from within. Inward decay is deadlier than outward aggression. One does not have to be a modern prophet of doom or a nervous alarmist to detect some of the rapidly multiplying symptoms of moral deterioration in our land. Individual character, the home, and society as God would have it are all being undercut and their foundations weakened by these symptoms.
In a recent editorial on the television quiz fixes, the Saturday Evening Post declared: “What is more important is that we recognize the television scandals for what they are—a symptom of the declining standards of moral behavior in the United States, that twinge in the national belly that warns of deep-seated malignancy in the body politic.”
Indeed, the moral fabric of our whole society is growing thin and has already been torn in some places. Listed among the mounting evidences of inner decay would be the spiraling divorce rate, the increasing viciousness and number of juvenile crimes, widespread immorality, parental neglect, drunkenness and alcoholism, narcotic addiction, and many others. These are not the fruits of a Christian society—but the rotten fruits of worldliness.
When respectable citizens—even church-going folks—wink at the so-called “little” sins. Immorality is free to run its course. These so-called “respectable” sins are found even in our own city, and they are, surprisingly, approved by many. Such worldliness is expressed in “social” drinking, gambling, dancing, immodest attire, and indecent, sex-accented literature, films, and recordings.
Nevertheless, voices of the world all around us plead for all to “be modern and live modern”—in short, to follow the crowd and imitate the ways and practices of the people of the world. But the true Christian cannot so conform, because a distinguishing mark of the true Christian is “to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). This, indeed, is essential to the practices of pure religion.
Disciples of Jesus Christ have been redeemed by the blood of their Savior (1 Peter 1:18-19). Their bodies and their influence are not, therefore, their own for worldly indulgences. They have been “bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20)—the blood of God’s Son (Acts 20:28).
This “be-like-the-crowd” philosophy has tremendous appeal. It has engulfed multitudes. Yet the Bible teaches that the multitudes are going to be lost. Moses warned: “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). And Jesus warned: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13).
Voices of the world enthrall many and seek to induce lax codes of conduct and loose living, but the eternal work of God warns in the most solemn language:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
“. . . Come out from among them and be separate . . . .” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
“. . . [F]or whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption. . . .” (Galatians 6:7-8; cf. Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
The quality of our nation, homes, and individual characters, will be in direct ratio to our willingness to conform our wills to the divine will of God. The Bible says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).