The men of Issachar had “understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chron 12:32). The message of the Gospel is unchanging, but to preach it effectively, we must be able to apply its message to the present need. It is dangerous to delve into “the depths of Satan” (Rev 2:24), but it is necessary to understand “the times”.
The Lord taught that in the end times “iniquity shall be multiplied” (Matt 24:12). We are seeing a powerful preview of this bursting of all restraints. We believe in total depravity, therefore we cannot argue that mankind is worse today.
The Lord addressed “this adulterous and sinful generation” (Mark 8:38). “Sinful” is a superlative and does not allow for any greater degree. A description of moral conditions in the Roman Empire reads like a modern day critique of “youthful lusts” in our society. Mankind has always been “sinful” or full of sin, but there is something unique about our day
In the past, sinful behavior was known to be sin. Right and wrong were stamped on the human consciousness, even “Gentiles, which have not the law… shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom 2:14-15).
There is a great change. A verse that often comes to the Christian mind is Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.” As much as we find it difficult to believe, generations are growing up without the knowledge of right and wrong, without a divine standard of righteousness. This is “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thess 2:7).
What should be our response to “this evil” (Gal 1:4)? Our first concern should be to allow “the grace of God” to teach us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts… to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world… looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-14). We live in a defiling scene. The Lord Jesus gave Himself to “purify unto Himself a peculiar people.” Are we pure in what we think, see, do and say? Or has the evil of the age crept into our hearts and homes?
In our presentation of the Gospel, we must preach God’s holiness; we must preach God’s holy law. In our great concern to make people understand that “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom 3:20), we have often failed to preach law. We must never forget that “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” We must preach law as the mirror, not the ladder, but we must preach it because modem man is bereft of any standard of righteousness, and many actually do not know right from wrong.