A Lesson in German
Any person who attempts to lead a godly life, a biblically based, Spirit-formed, Christ-centered life will find themselves out of step with the flow of the cultural norms around them. We should not be surprised nor tempted to change course. It has always been that way for God’s people. “Zeitgeist” is a term philosophers, theologians and sociologists use to describe the mood, beliefs and values of a particular people in a particular time. Zeitgeist is a German word that best translates to English as “the spirit of the times” or “the spirit of the age”. If I were to identify the Zeitgeist of our time in one word I would say profane. By that I mean more than rudeness and vulgarity, though there is plenty of evidence of both. Here’s why I think we live in profane times:
The level of violence not just in the streets but in homes reflects a loss of the sanctity of life and the blessing and responsibility of family. The rise of those who would arm themselves with guns or bombs killing complete strangers, including children in schools is unprecedented.
God created us male and female. Cultural norms reflect a belief that gender is socially constructed and therefore a choice people can make. Ignoring biology, one’s gender identity may change in the course of one’s life. Ironically, modern thought also believes that sexual behavior isn’t a choice but predetermined by biological orientation.
God created ordered and blessed the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. Culture erases this definition and has even moved on to say marriage is an outdated oppressive institution. The current younger generation puts less value on family and higher value on personal fulfilment than previous generations.
The new religion of the day – environmentalism.
While Christians should be leading the way on this issue as good stewards of the transcendent God’s creation, the new religion sees only the material world. Abuse and waste of resources defines the great sin and the “End Times” scare stems from the imminent and catastrophic destruction of the earth because of human influenced climate change. “Redemption” comes through simple living, recycling and tearing down the new evil empire – the “military-industrial-capitalistic-colonial-racist” empire of the United States and her ally, Israel. This new religion also sees no difference between the value of human life and other life forms. They would just as soon save an endangered frog than another human in an overpopulated world.
Abortion as birth control and the rising disregard for the elderly reflects the loss of the sacredness of all human life at every stage of our development.
Profanity isn’t just cuss words.
Profanity is anything that takes what is sacred and debases it, and uses for some other purpose than for which it was created. Profane treats with irreverence that which was meant to be good, beautiful and glorious. God created the universe and called it good. All of creation is the sacred property of God. Human life, declared very good by God, represents the epitome of God’s creative work. Profane comes from classic Latin, “profanus” which means “before (outside) the temple.” All of life was to be viewed as being in the presence of and under the authority of God. Since the fall of humankind as recorded in the book of Genesis, the human experience devolved into the compartmentalization of the “secular” and “religious”. The epitome of profanity then is dividing the so-called secular from the spiritual. The spirit of the age in every age has always been “outside the Temple,” willingly and wantonly divorced from God.
The spirit of the age has never been a movement of the Holy Spirit.
Behind the Zeitgeist, exists a truly demonic spirit, an actual spiritual being identified in Scripture as the Evil One, the enemy of our soul. We grossly underestimate satanic power if we see Satan only as a little horned character with a pitch fork attempting to get us to cuss, sleep in on Sunday, drink, smoke and get hooked on television. Those things may amuse him but he seeks to shape your mind and distort your worldview with arrogant sophistication. Satan convinces people that the Christian worldview is outdated at best and more than likely racist, bigoted, sexist, misogynistic, anti-intellectual and so superstitiously narrow-minded that it stands in the way of progress. Since spiritually un-regenerated humans cannot discern spiritual realities correctly, ungodly people conclude the Christian religion can no longer be tolerated and must not only be silenced but eradicated from society. The goal is not just to ban the Bible and keep Christians inside their churches but to remove Christians from any positions of influence in the cultural, social and political realm. Dating back to the Garden of Eden, the scheme of the Devil has always pushed a “human agenda,” convincing humanity that we can trust our own experience, our own rational minds (without God or religion) and thereby be our own authority. Beware of this spirit. Beware of this spirit of the age!
The Word of God shapes our thinking and defines our experience. Never get that backward.
Ephesians 2:1-2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
Be dead to worldliness and alive to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.
Evidently the spirit of the age has also crept into churches.
1 Corinthians 2:6-7a, 12 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom…. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
Only those alive in the Holy Spirit understand God’s nature
and the wisdom of God’s ways.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Worldly ways may sound right, good —even loving—
but they are empty of substance and powerless to change us.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Stand firm having put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:1-18)
and attack vain ideas and deceptive values,
with the Word of God.
While you may be sympathetic or open to the voices for change, be exceedingly careful before signing on the dotted line of the petition to set aside well over twenty centuries of the considered judgment and teaching of the people of God. This movement for change will be sincerely advanced in the name of love; however, it moves with the force of power according to the zeitgeist of the present age. J.D Walt
The Zeitgeist, the way of the world, always promises freedom, progress and fairness for all – everyone is going to be happy getting their own way. Unfortunately history has shown over and over again that every attempt to tear down the system and replace it with a new utopia results in one oppressive system replacing another with new elitist power brokers.
Rather than marching lock step to an ever changing “Zeitgeist” or taken for a ride in the “Volksgeist” (the people’s spirit or national spirit) we need to be in step with Heileger Geist, the Holy Spirit. “Heileger” is not a Belgian beer, it means holy in German. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to Christ, to redemption and wholeness. The Holy Spirit always confirms and never contradicts the Bible. The Holy Spirit establishes a genuine freedom by defining the boundaries between the good places, the beautiful and glorious places from the evil and destructive places. Greener pastures do not exist beyond these boundaries but the self-seeking human spirit always thinks so. Whatever the spirit of the age promises, it always ends in anxiety, pessimism and despair. Eventually the spirit of the age hits the dead end of human ability and leaves its followers with the question, “Is that all there is? We just live for a while and die!” A new social movement, a new form of the Zeitgeist will attempt to provide a palatable answer but the results are the same. Every young generation thinks they have the solution to fixing how their parents’ generation messed up the world but there is nothing new under the sun and life really has no significance, no ultimate and lasting purpose apart from the reality of a relationship with God. Any new age movement really is the old order re-wrapped in new, shiny packaging.
So what is the conclusion of the matter?
Komm, Heileger Geist, Herre und Gott! Come, Holy Spirit, Lord and God! Lead on through the times at hand.