An Ongoing Battle

Dear Wake Up Family:

I preface my article this month with something Larry said in a seminar back in 2000. Ask yourself as you contemplate his words and my article afterwards, if the United States is becoming more righteous or more immoral as the years go by. I would also add that it is perfectly reasonable to expect of our Christian ministries and leaders in government, what Larry said of our preachers.

He said, “As you look at America today, where do you lay the blame for what it has become? On ministers. The slippery slope of gradualism has not been recognized. The preaching of the pure unadulterated gospel, instead of being a double-edged sword that cuts to the quick, has become a form of entertainment. People like smooth sailing. People don’t like their feathers ruffled. People like to hear what they like and want to hear. But that’s not what God calls preachers to do. God calls them to tell people the truth, even when it hurts.”

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In 1954, an agreement was made in Geneva that Vietnam would be separated into two countries at the 17th parallel. Ngo Dinh Diem, a Vietnamese exile, was brought in by the United States and made president of South Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh was declared president of the north. Earlier that same year in the US, the Vietnam Committee Group of the National Security Council introduced a plan to send five men as special advisors to aid in the startup of the new country of South Vietnam. This five-man unit was called the Saigon Military Mission (SMM).

American History teaches that the United States was involved in the Indochina war from 1965 to 1975. But according to Fletcher Prouty, Chief of Special Operations between the CIA and the Defense Department, it actually became involved in 1945, twenty years earlier. He states:

“We [citizens] don’t understand the background history of this war. All that Americans really know is that the Marines landed in 1965, and the troop numbers grew to 550,000 by 1969. But the circumstances and meddling that started the war happened 20 years earlier in 1945.

Back in 1954, the first function of the SMM was to abuse a portion of the Geneva Agreement, which stated that ‘Any North Vietnamese who would rather be in the south, and any South Vietnamese who would rather be in the north, is free to go.’ Then, through a series of nefarious acts (propaganda, terrorism, and worse), this unit intentionally caused over one million North Vietnamese to move to the south. US Navy transports carried 660,000, and CIA aircraft carried more than 3–400,000 northern people into South Vietnam.

Imagine the problems, the chaos created when turning one million people with nothing—no home, no food, and no money—loose. What do you do with them? That’s what happened in Vietnam to start the upheaval. These migrants became rioters, thieves, and robbers; they were trying to survive, to get food. This war was orchestrated. Those poor folks didn’t start it. They were manipulated and used. The southern government, which didn’t even have as much as an organized police force yet, began fighting the northern government, which was armed to the teeth by the US in 1945.”

I’m sharing this unique vantage-point view of what happened and why things went wrong in Vietnam because I think it’s an appropriate example of how, a select few in our government, commit the sins of commission and omission. (God holds those in authority to a higher standard. Remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4?)

Exodus 20 commands: do not steal, lie, murder, or covet, and most of us can refrain from these sins of commission with relative ease; however, James 4:17 introduces a sin that is much more difficult to master: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” This defines the sin of omission.

Now, the Vietnam War was only 50–60 years ago. But this same scheme of duplicity also played out around 6,000 years ago in the story of a beautiful woman strolling through a pristine park. The unusual thing about her story, though, is that she talked to a snake. Read the story in Genesis 3.

Eve didn’t understand the significance of her exchange with the serpent, but he did. And her decision that very moment cost mankind everything. Ever since that day, Satan has been steadily attempting to lead us astray by deception—either through commission or omission.

Before we go farther, let me give an example of how duplicity can be effected. Imagine several people sitting at a table when suddenly, one person stands up and hits another. Immediately, the struck person yells to the others sitting around the table, “Did you see that? He just hit me for no reason.” But what the rest of the group didn’t see was the kick under the table that started the whole fracas.

Did you catch the sophistry?

It’s easy to be manipulated—to get the wrong end of the stick—when we don’t know the whole story. And if man is adept at obscuring truth so that we can’t see the entire matter, I dare say the Devil is the master.

Think about it. Our mind is the only thing that separates us from the animals. Man alone has a brain that can reason from cause to effect. Furthermore, it’s through our minds that we have access to God. And for man to be able to withstand the Devil’s blistering attacks, for man to be able to discern the line between truth and error, for man to be able to know the difference between that which is acceptable Christian conduct and that which is sin, we must implore of the Lord for help to maintain our mental faculties.

The Bible says, “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

I believe Satan has studied mankind and attempts to dull and twist our thinking so that our minds can’t see issues clearly, just as he attempted to manipulate Jesus. If you remember, Jesus was attacked in His greatest hour of crisis when the soldiers offered Him vinegar mixed with myrrh to dull His pain and senses. Satan is continuously looking for a weakness to manipulate.

Following are three categories of traps I see as the most insidious and successful snares used today by Satan (and man) in the effort to control our thinking. The overlap of these three has a synergistic effect which is downright frightful.

(1) Sexual Deviancy + Corruption

Today, nothing else comes close in successfully turning young and old away from God’s standard than the deceptions in category one. What is more prevalent in United States news today than abnormal sexual relations and graft? You would think that one’s deviant identity is of more importance than moral principles.

Hollywood has become synonymous with depravity and moral degradation, and Washington with power and nihilism. And each year both seem to get worse. The greatest blights on the American image around the world stem from Hollywood and Washington. The two cities conjure in my mind what Sodom and Gomorrah must have been like: perverted, corrupt, and filthy.

Because the prevalent appeal today is the charm of illicit attraction and gain, it’s easy to become numb to these things. And because we live in a society where “everybody is doing it,” it doesn’t seem so bad. In reality, this is all part of Satan’s scheme to lead our allegiance, our mind, and our will astray.

How are we to resist?

In a conversation about transgenderism I had with a close relative last month, she asked, “Well, doesn’t God want transgender people to be happy?”

I said, “No, God doesn’t want us to be happy living in delusion and sin. Yes, He wants us to obey his commands and teachings because He created us, and He alone knows what will make us truly happy.”

The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) God has left us an owner’s manual, a map. And if our feet are anchored in Jesus, we will know the difference between right and wrong, between acceptable Christian behavior and sin.

Jesus’ standard is indeed a high one. But just as surely as God has a standard, He will give each of us the power to live up to it if we ask Him to and are sincere in our petition.

Paul said in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

(2) Materialism + Wealth

The second category of deceptions in our day is materialism and wealth. The Devil (and man) would have us believe that material things are the answer to mankind’s woes. Now, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. Both Abraham and the Rich Man in Matthew’s story were wealthy. The difference was the role wealth played in their lives.

Abraham loved God and man first; his wealth was lower in significance. Remember how he offered Lot the pick of the land and risked everything to rescue his nephew when he was taken prisoner? Conversely, when Jesus told the young rich man to sell all and distribute the proceeds among the poor, the man turned and walked away. His sin was that of omission. He knew what he should do but didn’t want to do it. He wasn’t willing to part with his worldly possessions. He believed he would be happy if he just had enough things. (Matthew 19)

I believe the Devil created the materialism scheme so that we would be comfortable and content on this earth and not be homesick for heaven. I’m ashamed to admit that I fell for it during my early years. Thank God for His patience and kindness.

(3) Politics + Faux Patriotism

To mention this third category is like falling into quicksand—once you stick your toe in, it swallows you up before you can get out. But we’re living in an age of dishonesty and deceit, and to pretend that government is the savior rather than a villain is naïve.

The late Milton Friedman, a well-known economist, stated, “There is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.” Everywhere we turn, the sham and pretense of a morally bankrupt society is evident, and all three branches of government are culpable in getting us here. After all, it is those 545 elected people who are directly, legally, and morally responsible for running this country.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” Think about the ramifications of his potent statement as you consider the state of our country.

In my opinion, the infatuation with, even worship of, politics today is leading men and women away from their dependence on God to a reliance on government. What we believe and believe in makes a difference. God has given us minds equipped to reason and He expects us to use them.

To illustrate why these two subjects were chosen as category three, I’d like to share a portion of an exchange I had with a relative (a different one than mentioned earlier). I was earnestly surprised in whom he placed his allegiance. This is my reply to what he had written me about patriotism and loyalty to the United States. I wrote back:

I agree with you that people see things in different ways. It’s certainly good and necessary to see both sides of a story. And you’re right in saying that “everyone has a right to his own opinion.” But, an opinion only has value if it is an informed and considered opinion. Too often, people have opinions about things they know nothing about but have an emotional attachment to. Patriotism comes to mind. Today in this country [the United States], patriotism seems to mean, “Whatever our government does is right. Period.” There is no consideration of who, what, when, where, why, and how. Why is that? That’s the first thing we would do in the trial of a peer. Why not of our leaders and their actions?

You stated, “America is the greatest nation in the history of the world and the closer we follow the precepts it was founded on, the greater we are.”

I agree with your statement to a point. The problem is, and what I disagree with what you wrote is, our government doesn’t follow the precepts it was founded upon any longer; and to excuse this by justifying its malfeasance is reckless.

Our country used to be the most free and prosperous nation to ever exist. One hundred years ago, we were the creditor nation to the world. Now, we’re the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world, and the free people of the freest country in the world can’t even travel to Cuba because our politicians say we aren’t free to do so. And nobody sees a contradiction in this? Being free only to do what you’re told is not freedom—it’s a façade.

In your last paragraph, you stated, “If I believe that my country was responsible for the destruction and bloodshed caused by starting the Vietnam War, it would prevent me from being a loyal American and negatively influence my relationship to my country.”

It sounds like you’re confusing our country with its government. They aren’t synonymous. Patriotism (to me) is about keeping this country as it was intended to be, not embracing whatever politicians do by excusing their bad behavior and overlooking their negligence.

Today, the whole of Washington seems corrupt. All of the domestic problems that plague this country crept out of that city. It’s that small group of 545 people ruining our country! Supporting them is not patriotism. They deserve contempt, not loyalty.

Well, you get the gist of the exchange between us. The most fundamental and meaningful question to ask ourselves is, Are we American first or Christian first? Which takes priority in our life? From whence does our pride stem?

Now let me get back to the Bible, which implores us, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:15–17)

Satan endeavors to counterfeit Bible truth because the purpose of truth is to lead us to God. If anything we believe does not square with Scripture, then it teaches us something other than the truth about God.

Read 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3. These are not just pious platitudes. The Devil has successfully counterfeited every single truth in the world today. Not one has escaped his deception.

Does it make a difference what we believe? Of course. It certainly did to Adam and Eve. Eve honestly believed the deception Satan used on her, and it cost mankind everything. It also made a difference to the 52,000+ Americans who died in Vietnam and their families.

We Christians need to discern what true and accurate information is rather than merely cheering the status quo and then seeking belief reinforcement. And there is only one power that can affect man’s heart and mind to change, to search for and be a lover of truth—and that is the power of God’s love and grace. Have you yielded yourself to the influence of that transforming power? I can attest that nothing truly falls into place or really makes sense until we let Jesus’ will impact our hearts.


Rex Johnson

Rex Johnson

Rex Johnson

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