“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).
The life of the prophet Jeremiah is something all of us should be so blessed to experience; Jeremiah, the sad preacher of righteousness whose heart broke over the monstrous offenses of his people against their God, who had life-shattering sorrow and fear because of their threats to him personally.
He was called by God. He obeyed and that set him apart. He could not and would not blend in. He would not make excuses or attempt to cover up their foul lies and filthy lives. The Hebrew nation was rightfully bringing down God’s curses on themselves.
Yet through all this, Jeremiah could claim: “I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation” (Jeremiah 15:17).
Because of the threats, the taunts, and the loneliness, he struggled. At one low point, his heart cried out:
“Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:9).
So he kept proclaiming God’s Word. And he refused to participate in the politically correct, religiously blasphemous behavior of the nations around him.
What really isn’t covered by Psalm 1:1? Nothing. It’s just that we don’t like the consequences of not participating in the filth around us. So we reassure ourselves that it will all come out right, that we’re forgiven anyway. How much harm can JUST THIS ONCE cause? But it’s never just once. And it is cumulative.
One of the most important aspects of Scripture is its ability to separate the godly from the ungodly. Also, the phony from the authentic; the hypocritical from the sincere. The sword of the Spirit that slices between these is the Word itself. And what it targets principally, is a person or a nation’s behavior.
We know a tree by its fruit:
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).
We can also identify the controlling agent in someone’s life by their fruit:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23).
What stymies us at times is the teaching of Scripture that we are to be in the world, yet not of it. We are frequently confused as to just what earthly activities we should be involved in, and to what extent. Take this situation, for example:
After my husband gave a talk warning a church group about the dangers of the New Age movement, a fellow approached him and asked him what he thought he should do about his kids’ plans to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Was it fair of him to deprive his children of the fun of dressing up and begging for candy? Although Halloween has (thankfully) already passed this year, let’s consider this:
Halloween is a day that has always celebrated paganism. It is Satan’s high holiday.
Candy? Kids need more of that?
People invariably dress in costumes that are not associated with godly people (i.e., witches and other Disney characters).
Halloween is now as much an adult event as it used to be a special occasion for children. Over 7.5 billion dollars were spent on this demon-day in 2015; the same amount spent on Christmas in 2014. Disgusting.
Those facts, in light of Psalm 1:1 make the answer obvious. Ignore the festivities and explain to your children that Christian people do not take part in activities connected to the world, the flesh and the devil. Tough, isn’t it?
Not for Jeremiah, for him it was not difficult. He was wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord. There was never any question in his heart, mind or soul, what the truth was and just how faithful this God of mercy and judgment would always be.
Shortly before Judah’s expulsion from the Promised Land, Jeremiah committed all the words God had given him to a scroll. That scroll was read to wicked King Jehoiakim. And this was his response:
“And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he [the king] cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth” (Jeremiah 36:23).
DO NOT CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN! Or cut up and burn God’s admonitions. Is the choice really that difficult? Plan to be different, because costumes hide nothing. And our behavior reveals who we truly are.