Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Kingdom School Institute in Plano, Texas. Dr. Larry Taylor and I have co-directed the KSI for the past 17 years. In my closing challenge, I spoke on the topic of the Christian school in a Babylonian culture. Irwin Lutzer in his book, The Church in Babylon, explains today’s culture this way.
The culture is becoming increasingly polarized as the world around us becomes more comfortable admitting that secularization, which had been an undercurrent, is now mainstream.
There are three options that we have as Christians as we conduct our everyday lives in this hostile culture. We can
- assimilate into the culture.
- isolate from the culture.
- engage the culture.
Of course, God does not want His people to become like the pagan culture around us; nor does He want us to isolate ourselves from the culture. God expects us to engage the culture by being an example of Christlikeness in everyday life. As Lutzer puts it, we are called to infiltrate without being contaminated. The question is how do we do this?
One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 101. I have gleaned several things from this Psalm that I have used as a guide for my life, home and ministry. There are 10 essential principles that we need to know and practice if we are going to be salt and light in the world in which we live.
It Must Start In The Home
If we are going to thrive as Christians in a Babylonian culture, we must realize that living the Christian life must start at home. So many times people try to act spiritual when they are out in the public and they don’t make an intentional effort to strive for Christlikeness at home. In verse 2 of this Psalm David begins explaining how he was determined to honor God with his life with these words. I will walk within my house… What you practice at home will carry over into your “public” life.
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. Psalm 101:2 (NKJV)
The word “perfect” can be translated “integrity”. Another translation says that David would walk at home with integrity of heart. Integrity is a missing ingredient in today’s world. Everyone seems to wear a mask whenever they are out in public in an effort to look good to those they interact with. Billy Graham was a man of integrity and he once said,
Integrity means that if our private life was suddenly exposed, we’d have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. Integrity means our outward life is consistent with our inner convictions.
Jesus told His disciples that the eye was the window to one’s life. When in Babylon, it is absolutely necessary that we guard our eyes. Everywhere we go and every direction that we turn is filled with images that are impure and are out there to draw us into wickedness. David knew what the consequences were when the eyes were allowed to wander. Therefore, he would guard his eyes.
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. Psalm 101:3 (NKJV)
Another translation says that David would not set anything worthless before his eyes. What would happen if each one of us would make a sign with these words on it and set it right above our TV screens, computers and/or on our smart phones? There would probably be times when we will have to turn the channel or close an app. We must guard our eyes while living in Babylon.
When one has pure eyes, he/she can have a clean heart. This is how David was determined to have a clean heart.
A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. Psalm 101:4 (NKJV)
To keep one’s heart clean requires discipline. However, the reward for having a clean heart is worth the effort. Jesus told His disciples that those who have pure hearts can “see” God. This doesn’t mean that we will visibly see God. It means that we will understand Him better. When faced with trying to solve a problem in math and all of a sudden you understand the answer, we often say oh, I see. The answer doesn’t suddenly appear on the paper. “I see” means that I know how to solve the problem.
Gossips Not Allowed
Do you know anyone who is always negative and likes to talk about other people all the time? I am sure that David must have encountered people like that in his life. He also knew that he couldn’t allow them to have influence in his life.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy. Psalm 101:5 (NKJV)
Now, this verse is not telling us to go out and physically destroy gossips. But we must be agents that stop it from happening. What would happen if you are talking with some friends and one person starts gossiping about someone and you simply said, if you haven’t talked to that person about this, you need to go to them and not tell us? Better still, what would happen if you said, I am going to get with that person and let them know what is being said about him/her? I think it would destroy the gossip pretty fast.
When I was an administrator at a school, I would have parents come and tell me something “terrible” that one of my staff members had supposedly done or said. My response was always that they should go and meet with the staff person personally. Then I added that as soon as I was through with our conversation I was going to contact that staff person and let them know that the parent was going to contact them about a problem. When it was known that I would do this, it stopped a lot of gossip coming my way.
As we try to live a godly life in a Babylonian culture, pride can crop up very easily. All pride is destructive but spiritual pride may be the most dangerous of all prides. Once again, David gives us godly counsel regarding pride.
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure. Psalm 101:5 (NKJV)
I believe it is important to apply this verse to ourselves before we condemn others. It is so easy to have pride creep into our lives — especially when things are going well and we are tasting some success. Whether it is our own lives or those we come in contact with, we can’t allow arrogance and haughtiness to get its foot in the door of our lives.
Choose Heroes Wisely
Having heroes is an important aspect of life. However, having wrong heroes only brings destruction. Unfortunately, in today’s Babylon the culture wants us to make celebrities our heroes. Most of them may be very talented and popular but may lack any semblance of godly character. David chose his heroes wisely.
My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; Psalm 101:6 (NKJV)
It is very important that we find men and women of faith and look to them as examples to emulate. By choosing these people as our heroes, we may end up being someone’s hero!
Godly Counsel Needed
One of the realities of life is that everyone has an opinion and would be more than willing to share it with you. We must be careful when seeking or receiving advice while living in Babylon. This is because most people’s advice will be of this world. David made it an important practice to seek godly counsel.
He who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me. Psalm 101:6 (NKJV)
Another translation says he who walks in a “blameless” way will “minister” to me. I want those who are exhibiting a close walk with the Lord to counsel me. Bad advice will only bring heartache.
No False Teachers
We live in a secular world that operates according to a secular worldview. This worldview ignores or denies God and, therefore, leads to false teachers. David faced this challenge and guarded himself against all error.
He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. Psalm 101:7 (NKJV)
Who is teaching you? An even more important question is, who are you allowing to teach your children? A secular worldview is based on human opinion and lies. We cannot allow false teaching into our homes and we can’t give false teachers access to our children’s hearts and minds.
David closes this Psalm with these words.
Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord. Psalm 101:8 (NKJV)
Every morning David was committed to destroying wickedness in his life and in his community. We, too, have to begin each day crying out to the Lord that He would keep us pure while in Babylon and judge the evil doers that are trying to destroy society. If we are faithful to these 10 principles, we can infiltrate without being contaminated!