What was life like in the first century? One historian writes, “It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right. The social relations exhibited, if possible, even deeper corruption. The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure and murder of newly-born children, were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description” (Edersheim, Book 2, Chapter 11, p. 179). Thus described the culture of the dominant world power of the day, Rome.
Those descriptions, almost without exception, could be applied to the current culture. So many specific examples could be, and often are, set forth to depict life in our world today that mirror Edersheim’s chronicle of the world into which Christianity was born. Not surprisingly, New Testament writers are prone to speak of the world in stark terms and with specific admonitions. What they said then apply to us today, and they contain counsel that will help us to spiritual success in our slimy setting.
You can save yourself from this perverse generation (Acts 2:40). That was the final recorded appeal of the first recorded gospel sermon. The message is one of hope and faith. There is escape from the pollutions of the world (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20). There is forgiveness of the sins like the ones described above as well as any and all others. The promise of the gospel message is, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38). Those who gladly received that word did just that (Acts 2:41).
You can shine yourself to this perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). Paul urges the Philippian Christians to prove themselves blameless and harmless in such an environment. He’s calling for distinctive Christian living, a life that would stand out in such deplorable circumstances. We’re not trying to be oddball misfits, but faithful Christian living is detectable in the crowds we find ourselves in. That example is the first step to helping someone else save themselves from this perverse generation.
You can share your Savior with this perverse generation (Mark 8:38). Jesus warns those whom He calls “ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation.” He tells us that a true disciple’s life is one of obedience, self-denial, sacrifice, and courage (cf. Mark 8:36-38). If we never share the saving message of Christ with the people we meet and know each day, why don’t we? Could it be that we are ashamed to share His distinctive message to a world that pressures us to conform to and go along with it. If we do not tell them about Him, how are they going to find out? What hope will they have to discard the perverse life for the pure one?
It is a scary, sinful world out there! But God rescues us from its guilt through Christ’s sacrifice, then sends us back out there to tell them they can be rescued, too. Live it and then share it, no matter what, until your end or the end—which ever comes first!