For several seasons the AMC (American Movie Classics) channel has been running its hit show, The Walking Dead. Episode after episode the main characters seek solace in the confines of any sanctuary they can find: the Center for Disease Control (CDC); a farm; an abandoned prison; a church. Time and time again their makeshift paradises are invaded by hordes of flesh eating ravenous zombies lured by the smell of warm blood flowing through the vains of the living. But the punchline of the show is: fight the dead; fear the living. The implication being: the zombies aren't the only and biggest threat, the living (other human beings) are even deadlier than the zombies; that human nature can be more monstrous than bloodthirsty monsters, a theme that would make Stephen King proud.
Point well taken. There is no better way to point out the plight of the human condition than to stand humanity next to a bunch of mindless, carnivorous, flesh-eating zombies; that way, we can make a comparison and learn to be duly frightened by humanity in its most desperate state. In one season, the flesh-eaters were actual humans who were trapping fellow travelers and storing them in boxcars. Scary! Disturbing! Familiar! What we do to each other is far worse than anything any mindless zombie could ever do.
You know, the scary part is this: the Bible tells us that human nature is going to become a whole lot more depraved, wicked, decadent, and sick before Christ returns. This is one of the apostle Paul's warnings in the book of 2 Timothy. There, in the third chapter, Paul presents a long list of character defects that will further plague mankind. Also, in Revelation chapters 8 and 9, John reveals how deeply hardened men's hearts will become towards God just before the return of Christ. What always baffles me is Revelation chapter 13 which declares that just prior to the return of Christ the whole world will worship "the dragon" (Satan) and "the beast" (antichrist). Talk about some mindless zombies! Can you imagine that?! The whole world will worship...Lucifer. Scary!
But you know what's even scarier than that? Bad theology. I don't know which is worse: a zombie trying to eat my brain or a liberal theology professor or liberal preacher trying to fill my brain with spiritually damning nonsense that will land me in hell. Both are after our brains. Both have blood dripping off of their lips and flesh stuck between their teeth. Both have eyes that are glazed over with death. Peter called these "spiritual zombies" men whose "eyes are full of adultery," men who "cannot cease from sin," men who continuously beguile "unstable souls," "cursed children" filled with "covetous practices," men who are "as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed" (2 Peter 2:12, 14). This breed of walking dead seek to feast on your souls. They reek of a type of stench that makes the zombie's decomposing flesh smell like perfumed flowers: theirs is the decay of the soul, the spiritual death that is the result of being dead to God, a death referred to as "the second death" in the Bible; theirs is the state of living a lie. Hell is filled with the stench of perpetual decay and decomposition, among other horrible odors.
What kind of theology am I talking about that is so dangerous and destructive? It is the gospel that proclaims that God's only desire is that we be happy in this world, that we can love the world and still receive heaven, that God wants us to create heaven on earth; that Jesus came that we might have materialism, and have it more abundantly.
The emphasis of the gospel message is on death: God wants us to die to the world and to ourselves. Jesus said we must lose our lives and deny ourselves if we're to be His disciples. Many preachers today are saying you must (using secular psychology) find yourself (obtain self-actualization), embrace your unregenerate nature (in other words, don't seek for progressive transformation of your nature through the revelation of God's word and the power of the Holy Spirit, but instead, be complacent and stagnant in your spiritual development), and even be narcissistic (make you the star of the show). Paul said God is looking for people who don't mind dying daily. We must learn to die to ourselves: our desires, wants, understanding, ways, goals, dreams, ambitions, sins, and flesh. Oh, don't worry. God will replace yours with His and make your life meaningful. But before we can become the living ambassadors of God's Kingdom, we must first become...the walking dead - dead to self and the world.
Life isn't about you. You weren't created for your own purpose, but for God's. Proverbs chapter 16 declares this. One of Satan's ultimate goals is to make man feel entitled to things God never promised him. God didn't promise to give us everything our flesh desires; He promised to give us the right desires when we crucify our flesh and seek Him first (Psalm 37). God didn't promise to prevent problems in our lives; He promised to be with us in the midst of problems. God never told us to create heaven on earth through human innovations and activism; He told us to look for His second coming, which will be followed by the New Jerusalem descending upon the earth. Then, and then only will evil, injustice, racism, terrorism, greed, world hunger, and all other byproducts of sin be eliminated. So, rather than preaching the gospel of humanism and a social gospel, we are supposed to point men to the hope of Christ's return and the transformation of our bodies from corruption to incorruption (1 Corinthians 15). So, until then, don't fool yourself. No president, government, social program, or manmade philosophy will transform this world for the better.
John, in Revelation chapter 12, explained that God's saints can only overcome Satan by the blood of Christ and the word of their testimonies, which is this: "I have already died to the world. So, no matter what comes and goes, I am faithfully sold out for Christ and His will. If you take my life, heaven is waiting for me. If you spare my life, I'll never stop sharing the gospel of Jesus the Christ with others and being a light." "Testimony" in this context doesn't refer to your individual challenges and circumstances; it refers to Christ's finished work on the cross and dying to self. I don't care where you come from. Die to self! I don't care what your background is. Die to self! I don't care who you think you are or what your title is. Die to self! For, as John states, the only way we'll be able to defeat Satan is if we "love not our lives unto death". Being prepared to give up everything for Christ and die for Christ is what enables us to truly live for Christ.
As Christians, we're walking dead men. Our lives are not our own. We are mindless in a technical sense - we have abandoned our "understanding" and have chosen to be compelled by the "mind of Christ". Our focus, our appetites aren't for anything else but that which is in God's heart. That's our commitment to God: God, I'll strive to die daily to myself and to this world; I won't choose the world over you and make you my enemy (James chapter 4). So, honor your commitment and don't let anyone trick you into...remaining dead in your sins.