Subject: Condition 4 of ‘How to Make America Great Again’ – Turn from Wickedness
2Chronicles 7:14 “If My people, who are called by My name… will turn from their wicked ways…”
Earlier this month, President Trump received an international award for the actions he has taken as America’s 45th President. And you thought everyone was against him. Well, they sort of are – it came from The Basij, Iran’s paramilitary forces. They awarded him their annual “Wet Gunpowder Award” for being the world’s most anti-Iranian and wicked person. What has he done to earn “most wicked” on the planet?
In February, President Trump issued economic sanctions against Iran after their January 29 medium-range ballistic missile test that violated international law. He also tweeted that “Iran has been formally put on notice for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” He labeled Iran as the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism, and said he would blow Iranian boats “out of the water” if they continued to harass U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. Hmmm – sounds pretty wicked.
On the flip side, President Trump has agreed with his Vice President that to “making America great again” requires us to meet God’s conditions in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Since God specifically warns against wickedness, we had all better understand what He means when He says to “turn from your wicked ways”.
First, what does it mean to be ‘wicked’? Today’s dictionary definition is “morally wrong.” We find the Bible’s first use of the word “wicked” in Genesis 6:5, where God says “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.” The words in Genesis 6:5 for “wickedness” and “evil” mean “doing what you know violates God’s law – a moral corruption that originates from the heart”. The book of Genesis was written around 1420BC. In our verse this week, 2Chronicles, written 1,000 years later around 450BC, uses the same word for “wicked” as Genesis 6:5.
Since “wicked” is defined as being morally wrong, we better make sure we understand the definition of “morality”. If we were to go back in history to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “morality” was defined as “The practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, with reference to right and wrong. The word moral applies to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined.”
But then in 1990, Webster’s Dictionary changed the definition for morality, and that change has remained to this day: “Living in accordance with an established set of principles of right or wrong conduct; capable of recognizing and then conforming to such principles.” Can you find what has changed? The phrase about using God’s law, the Bible, as our standard for determining peoples’ character, has been removed.
This by itself explains what is wrong in American culture today. We have hijacked God’s role as the authority to define good versus evil, and we have declared ourselves capable on our own to determine what and who is wicked. Having the world leaders in the sponsorship of global terrorism call our President “wicked” shouldn’t offend anyone, since we have lost our objective standard for what wickedness looks like.
Why are God’s laws the best standard for morality? Because they reflect who He is as a Person. In other words, He is moral in His essence. This is what Proverbs 18:10 tells us: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” The Hebrew word for name is “shêm”, which means “character”, or “the inward moral quality or integrity that manifests itself in behavior.” God is morally perfect.
Neither Iran nor anyone else sets the standard for morality – God does. So, in order to “make America great again”, how do we “turn” from wickedness? That word “turn” means to have a willing change of mind (my intellect), heart (my emotions) and will (my decisions) where I recognize my sin and agree with God that I have violated His laws (my intellect), I feel sorrow over my actions (my heartfelt response), and I resolve to embrace Jesus Christ as my Savior from my wickedness (an act of my will).
Since our culture has removed the Bible as the standard for morality, how will people learn how to “turn from their wicked ways”? If you claim to be a Christ-follower, you must share the good news: “God the Father made God the Son, who never sinned, to become sin for all of us on the Cross, so that we might become righteous before God the Father if we trust in Jesus Christ, God the Son.” (2Corinthians 5:21).
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance”, Article #236