Based in New York City, Bishop Reid and Pastor Reid discusses the people and instruments of revival n this weekly podast series, Arrows of Revival

Overcoming the Culture Trap

Overcoming the Culture Trap

Scriptures & Highlights

Is the practice of your faith simply an extension of the popular culture in your area? Does your Christian practice reflect the character of Christ or the expectations of the culture? Many church-goers are only cultural Christians but are not manifesting the fruits of the faith. It is easy to become allured and trapped by a culture-based version of Christianity instead of truly living by the Word of God. 

Here are some of the traps of the culture that Christians must overcome:

Religious Culture

  • Seeking a word from of a prophet while remaining in sinful rebellion

    • Ezekiel 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?

    • Ezekiel 14:4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

  • Treating the words of the preacher like a song

    • Ezekiel 33:30-33 Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. 33And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them.

  • Comparing yourself to others and thinking of yourself as better

    • Luke 13:1-5There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Materialism

Materialism is living according to the everyday norms of having possessions such as houses, cars, and other material wealth without being rich towards God. This comes with the false idea from the prosperity gospel that having riches is a sign of godliness. God has promised to bless and prosper us, and we reap benefits when we give generously. However, the teaching that Christ died to make us physically wealthy is unscriptural. 

  • Consumed with the ambition of being wealthy and successful here on earth.

    • Revelation 3:17-18 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

We can be rich in this world but missing the true gold of the Christian faith. We ought not to be caught up with the world in seeking for wealth, but seek God’s kingdom first, and trust God for the rest (Matthew 6:33).

  • Supposing that gain is godliness is a cultural trap.

    • 1 Timothy 6:5-10 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

  • Godliness with contentment is great gain.

    • 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Nationalism

Some Christians are trapped in a practice of their faith that is only an extension of nationalistic ideals. While Christians should be good citizens, we must remember that our primary citizenship is in the kingdom of God. Therefore, our Christian faith and practice must transcend nationalistic goals and ideals. At times, we may need to oppose a nationalistic agenda when it contradicts God. Christians should not be caught up in politics, bi-partisanism, and patriotism at the expense of our faith, convictions, and the glory of God. 

  • God can call and use people from any nation

Matthew 3:7-9 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 

  • The nation is not our covering. God is. God can cover His people in any country.

Ezekiel 11:3 Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh. 4Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.

Ezekiel 11:16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. 

Racial 

  • Getting consumed with racial and identity politics is a trap.

While Christians should stand against racial injustice, we must be careful of the trap of seeing the world through racial identity and politics. Humankind is sinful so all sorts of discrimination and stereotyping will always continue. However, we must remember that every person must give an account to God even racists, and the racially oppressed. We were all made in God’s image, and each person will bear the consequences of their sins. We cannot blame other races or a particular race for the current sins in a person’s life or people group. Rather we speak the gospel to all, since all have sinned, and believe that Christ will transform any person who comes to Him (Matthew 28:19).

Ezekiel 18:2-4  What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Cultural Icons

  • People tend to follow the example for celebrity idols in a culture even if the example is toxic.

Micah 2:11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Emotion-Driven Evaluation

  • Many are being overtaken by their emotions and feelings and allowing it to guide their evaluation of judgment of matters.

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. (Prv 25:28 KJV)

  • Some are believing accusations of others without any evidence or even a second witness.

  • Some are believing doctrines and teachings because it makes them “feel good” instead of looking to the truth of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

How to Escape the Culture Trap

Our example is Daniel. He was in a foreign land but maintained a vital relationship with the Lord.

Radical Purity

  • No defilement with the King’s meat

  • Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself

To overcome the cultural trap we must radically maintain purity inwardly and in all manner of our actions and life. Even the music and movies we watch must be filtered to maintain purity and overcome the culture.

Prophetic Revelation

King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that his wise men, including sorcerers and astrologers, tell the dream he had and give the interpretation. None of the sorcerers and astrologers could reveal the dream. But Daniel was able to escape King Nebuchadnezzar's threat to kill all the wise men serving the royal kingdom. How? Daniel asked for time to seek God for a revelation of the dream and its interpretation. God answered his prayer and revealed the dream and the interpretation.

  • Daniel 2:20-22 Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: 22He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

After hearing the dream and the interpretation from Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the God of Israel.

Readiness to Die

Daniel chapter three tells us the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar demanded that all the officials of the kingdom bow down and worship his golden image. But these three Hebrew boys refused. Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them in a fiery furnace if they did not bow. But they still refused. They were thrown in the fire, but God delivered them. Again, Nebuchadnezzar had to acknowledge the God of Israel.

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

In Daniel chapter six, the presidents and princes of the Medo-Persian empire got King Darius to make a law that contradicted with Daniel’s faith in God. The law was that no one could enquire of any other god but to the king. Daniel, as was his custom, went and prayed three times a day. For praying to God, Daniel was thrown into a den of lions. But God protected him. King Darius acknowledged God throughout the entire empire.

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 

Daniel 6:24-27 And the king commanded, and they brought those men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den. 25Then king Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. 26I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. 27He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Esther, the queen, could have enjoyed the culture as a queen without worrying about her people, but she took a risk. She was ready to die for her people (Esther 4:16).

 Excellence in spirit 

In Daniel six, Daniel received favor because he had an excellent spirit. The other leaders were jealous of him and were trying to find fault against him. However, they were not able to find any accusation against Daniel because he was faithful in the kingdom, and above reproach execution of his duties. Daniel’s excellence gave him favor and promotion. An excellent spirit rises you to the top, even in a toxic environment and culture. An excellent spirit meant that Daniel was:

  • Faithful in all His Actions

  • Fulfilled His Duties Above Reproach

Daniel 6:3-4 Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. 4Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

Radical Devotion

  • Person of the Word

  • Person of Prayer

Daniel 9:2-3 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 3And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:



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