There is a tendency that lies deep within us as people, namely the desire to “fit in” and gain the approval of the community around us. This means that we adapt ourselves to our environment to “fit in” to a desired form.
In many ways, this is a good and a necessary thing. If a community is to function, there is a need for a few communal values and rules that everyone agrees on.
At the same time the desire to fit in and be accepted leads to the fact that we as humans have developed a “pack animal” mentality. We will very naturally and effortlessly follow whatever is looked up to and recognized in our time. We see this in many areas, including attitudes, political changes, the way we speak and behave, fashion, and music.
What stance do I take?
Personally I have had to ask myself how I relate to this. I know the majority of people in the community around me have certain opinions and ways of looking at things when it comes to the central ethical questions. At the same time, I know that I as a Christian should keep myself to what God’s Word says about these questions. When these two worldviews do not match, I then need to drop one of them. For example, with matters concerning marriage and family life. In today’s society, it is largely expected that one should tolerate and accept that people can live together as a married couple without being married.
In 1 Kings 18 we can read the story of Elijah, who was the last of what was left of God’s prophets in an ungodly time where the people had lapsed into worshiping idols. They had been encouraged to do so by the reigning couple in the land, who had influenced the people in this direction. Elijah then gathered the people together on Mount Carmel, as described in 1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.”
It is very interesting to read that the people did not answer a word. The people had let themselves get caught up with the king’s idolatry. When Elijah then set before them the choice that they either had to choose God or idols they couldn’t answer what they actually wanted.
That’s the way it will go with us too, if we let ourselves drift along with the spirit of the times; the thoughts, ideas and opinions of modern times. When we are confronted with the choice of whom we will serve, we are unable to choose. We become powerless people, unable to take a stand for something.
God has a completely different plan for people. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:14, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” In other words, Paul encourages us as Christians not to let ourselves be affected by all kinds of schools of thought or ideas, but rather “speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” Ephesians 4:15.
He writes further in Ephesians 4:17 that we should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles, “in the futility of their mind.” To walk in the futility of your mind means living an unconscious life, where you just let yourself get carried along with whatever you are feeling in the moment. When our mind is empty, we become easy prey for all kinds of influences and the easiest course of action then is always whatever is close at hand at the time. That is, of course, the current spirit of the times.
Armed for battle
Paul writes further in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not “wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The spiritual hosts of wickedness work together with Satan, and want to influence people in a certain direction, so that they do his will. For this they use the spirit of the times. There are numerous examples of this spirit of the times leading to unimaginable cruelties and abuse. But complacency, selfishness, lethargy, and indifference are very real issues. The spirit of the times today influences us powerfully to realize ourselves, live life and think about ourselves and our own comfort and satisfaction. In the wake of this comes a lot of difficulties; families break up because the mother or father is more interested in satisfying their own needs, marriages and relationships are destroyed because one or both parties cannot satisfy their own lusts and desires within the bonds of marriage, etc.
Paul encourages us to take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day. But what is the evil day? When I am tempted, and I feel the urge to live according to my lusts and desires rising up; when Satan comes with his suggestions, and almost catches me off guard. Then it’s important to be armed, and resist! If I do that, then I will also be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all.
This armor is made up of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, and gives me everything I need to resist the spirit of the times and the prevailing thoughts that are against God’s plan and will. The condition for being armed with this is that I myself am willing to commit myself to holding God’s commandments, even though the world’s thoughts and ideas are in direct opposition to God’s Word. If I choose this, and stand fast in my decision, God Himself will strengthen me and make me able to stand and to remain standing in this fight.
We can read about the promises for those who remain standing, those who overcome, in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Amongst other things they will “eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7. “I will give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:28. “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5. “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.” Revelation 3:12. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne.” Revelation 3:21.
So there are great promises for conquering Satan and the spirit of the times. The question is only if I am willing to pay the price!