Our society, our culture, our way of life in America has become a pragmatic, self-centered enterprise of moral and spiritual confusion. “Have it your way” and “I did it my way” have become slogans to justify and encourage this ongoing rush towards hedonistic abandon. And it knows no bounds.
People these days seem to have no problem with holding multiple opposing opinions at the same time. Ever learning, but not coming to a conclusion of the truth. The Prophet Elijah faced the same problem in his day. God’s chosen people the Hebrews, were not faithful to the true God, Jehovah. They embraced other gods (which are no gods, but demons), at the expense of faithfulness to their Provider and Protector, the Lord God. So Elijah challenged them to prove whose god was the true one — Baal, a pagan diety, or Jehovah God, the holy eternal Creator of the universe. In this challenge on Mount Carmel, Elijah declared “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” And then it goes on to say in Scripture: “And the people answered him not a word.” In other words, they stopped short of giving a definite answer to Elijah’s ultimatum.
We have this same dilemma today in our modern-day society, one which, in America, the true God, Jehovah, had blessed for many centuries. Cultures rarely collapse overnight, but degrade little-by-little as they accept and embrace, and finally celebrate without restraint all-out rebellion against a holy God. There have been different periods in our recent history that have been turning points in this moral and spiritual apostasy.
One was the 1920s, commonly referred to as the “Roaring 20s,” where many popular writers, actors, musicians, and leaders, threw off moral restraint to embrace their base animal instincts. It was the “Jazz Age,” of radio, and the age of the “flapper,” young women who dressed provocatively. Although “Silent Cal” Coolidge was President of the U.S. for the majority of the decade, symbolizing conservative, traditional values, the decade of the 1920s was one of “liberating” oneself from the shackles of modesty and religious mores.
Another defining point in American history was, of course, the 1960s. The Bible and prayer were taken out of public schools at the Supreme Court level in 1962-63. With the advent of the birth control pill, “free love,” and incessant drug use, the ‘60s were the consummate “Me Generation,” which revolutionized the American landscape, and set the stage for many things to follow in following decades. The motion picture industry updated its previously held guidelines for decency in 1966, which had immediate effects on the top box office successes that followed in 1967 and beyond. Sex, nudity, gratuitous violence, rejection of parental values, celebrated drug use — all became acceptable topics for film producers and moviegoers.
Soon following the 1960s, abortion-on-demand was legalized at the national level in January 1973. America legalized the murder of unborn babies. Killing babies became safeguarded, while protecting them was considered illegal, an infringement on the rights of women!
The homosexual movement continued to attack Christian values, until by June 2015, they achieved their long-desired push for the legalization of “gay marriage” — again, at the national level. Now, many states have legalized marijuana use, which adds to the self-indulgent behavior of destruction that we already experience with alcohol, as well as other illegal forms of narcotics in this nation.
So what does all this have to do with Elijah? Good question! Elijah challenged the evil of his day, starting with King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel on down. At the heart of this vile and wicked culture was the rejection of the true God and His ways. And like the people in Elijah’s day, today in America among both Christians and non-Christians alike, people love to “have it both ways.” They want to say they believe in God. They want to say they know there is a god, or that they “believe in Jesus.” They don’t mind folks knowing they go to church, or they may even loudly declare their religious nature. But...they don’t serve Him. They have many other gods before Him. And there is a very easy way to tell this...
Do people embrace or reject God’s ways — His righteousness, His holiness, His commandments, His living written Word, the Holy Scriptures? Or do they continually compromise that Word with the other idols, the other gods, in their lives.
One theme we see in the Bible over and over again is this idea of “this OR that.” God never says “Me and those other things,” or “Me and your other gods.” He doesn’t say “The other ways, values, lifestyles, morals, and idols are O.K. as long as you also embrace My ways as well.” God never allows for that! It’s either ALL GOD or not at all. The Lord Jesus Christ said as much at so many different times, in so many different ways, that one could only miss this concept if he or she was brainwashed by churches, pastors, books, or one’s own cognitive dissonance.
This is shown clearly in James 1:22-24: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For is any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in the glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
The Lord Jesus also warned in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.” You see, no room for compromise there! Jesus hates lukewarmness. He tells us that we are to either be for Him or against Him, not both.
Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
And then the Lord Jesus Christ makes a similar declaration to drive home the point: Matthew 9:17, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”
This warning to be completely “on fire” for Jesus Christ, and not having other gods or idols in one’s life, is hardly ever heard (and I mean truly heard — thundering forth from churches and pulpits) in America today. Provision is made for the flesh. Allowances are made for our own particular fancies, and desires, and opinions, and “choices.” We need preachers and prophets that don’t hold back the truth for fear of offending people. A lukewarm preacher will result in lukewarm Christians.
Have you ever heard a preacher begin to say something, hoping he was finally going to give you the truth “full-strength,” only to diffuse his own message by subjugating it with a bunch of non-Biblical qualifications? And then you say to yourself, “Well, I guess that’s the best I can expect out of him!” And you leave feeling empty and malnourished by the message.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:8: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?”
So, how do we sometimes “halt between two opinions?” When we say we love God, but we reject His ways, His righteousness, (His holiness!), we say we “want God,” but we much rather desire the ways of the world. Just like the generations of the 1920s and the 1960s.
Yet Scripture says in James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” There’s no straddling the fence there!
James goes on to say in 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” So, if our hands are dirty and our hearts are impure, we are double-minded. Again, trying to serve two masters. But, as we’ve seen, that is an impossibility!
I hear someone say: “That’s works, and we are saved by grace!” No, my friend, that’s Bible!
And then in 1st John 2:15-17 we read: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Because of the state of "Christianity" in our culture, Christians have been led to believe, and have even been encouraged to: watch ungodly movies and TV programs; listen to anti-Christian musical themes while humming along to their favorite genre of music; visit unrighteous websites; read immoral books, magazines, and internet sites; go to bars and taverns; drink alcohol like the world does; go to movies and plays that believers 100 years ago would never have thought to do; gamble; waste time playing video games while the world goes to Hell; listen to religious leaders’ messages that undermine the Word of God; laughing at things that God hates; listen to pastors who tell more personal stories than they seriously preach the Bible; go places they really shouldn’t; embrace lifestyles that are wicked because they have a family member or loved one that refuses to repent; happily live a lukewarm life because compared to the “wicked,” they feel pretty good about themselves. In short, desiring the world’s ways, not God’s ways!
So many today want it both ways. The prophets of Baal (those who supported more than the one true God) lost in their challenge with Elijah, and their end was destruction. We need to stop “halting between two opinions” and be 100 percent on board with the Living God, and His Son — the ONLY Saviour and Lord of this universe, the Lord Jesus Christ!
How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.
-D. F. Lein, Florence, Vermont