We often use the word “secular” to distinguish between activities that have no necessary connection to religious faith and those that do. For example, the study of Electrical Engineering is secular activity, and the study of the Bible is religious activity. Although you may pray while shopping, shopping is basically a secular activity. Shopping is secular, and praying is religious or spiritual, but these activities may touch or overlap. In fact, unless you are an automated robot, your religious beliefs or lack of them influence your secular activities and decisions.
Secularism is the view that religious or spiritual considerations should be excluded from civil affairs and public education. To be a pure secularist, you must either believe God does not exist, or that His moral nature is unimportant and His power so modest that He can be safely ignored.
Yet there are a growing number of people in the United States, who believe that secularism is the way we should fulfill the religious freedom guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. In the name of freedom of religion, they insist that we should become a purely secular society that bars religious belief from influencing civil legislation, judicial decisions, and education. Their arguments often replace religious freedom with freedom from religion. They frequently bristle with a specific intolerance for any Biblical form of Christianity. In the last half-century, and especially the last two decades, secularist (or secular humanist) philosophy has made tremendous inroads against the Christian worldview and traditions.
Under the increasingly progressive (liberal) influence of powerful media, educational, government, business, and even church institutions, secularism has quietly beguiled a majority of the American people into pushing religious and spiritual considerations aside in almost every aspect of life in the name of religious freedom, tolerance, and just getting along. What are the consequences of continued secularization? The secularists tell us that secularism is the wave of the future and necessary progress for the peace and prosperity of a modern pluralistic society.
But what if there is a God? Well then, secularists had better hope He is a weak or morally indifferent God. But that would not be the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. That would not be the God of the Prophets and Apostles. That would not be the God of divinely inspired Scripture. That would not be the Lord of Hosts, or El-Shaddai (God Almighty). That would not be the God of His eternally begotten and divine Son, Jesus, whom He has made both Savior and Judge.
Let me give a single lesson from Scripture as to whether we should place our trust in secularism or God.
We read in the 14th Chapter of 2 Chronicles that Asa succeeded his father, Abijah, as King of Judah. This was in the year 911 B.C. The second verse of this chapter expresses in a single statement the supreme legacy that can be left by any leader: “And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” The next few verses tell us that Asa destroyed the foreign altars and commanded Judah to seek the Lord. He also built fortified cities. In verse 7, we read Asa’s words: “This land is ours because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought Him, and He has given us peace on every side.” Asa also kept a large Ready Reserve army of 580,000 men of Judah and Benjamin armed with shields, spears, and bows, who were called “mighty men of valor.”
In 901 B.C, Judah was prospering, but ungodly men and ungodly nations bear a grudge against all righteousness. Zerah, the Ethiopian, came against Judah with an enormous army of one million men. The Ethiopian Army included 300 chariots that Zerah hoped would terrorize the front ranks of Judah’s spearmen and bowmen. The battle lines were drawn at Mareshah in the valley of Zephathah. The odds looked overwhelmingly in favor of the Ethiopians. But here is Asa’s prayer in verse 11:
“And Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O God, there is none like you to help between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”
In verses 12 and 13, we see God’s quick and astonishing answer to Asa’s prayer of desperation:
“So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerat, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the Lord and his army. The men of Judah carried away very much spoil.”
Chapter 15 deals with Asa’s return, giving us a straight-forward lesson on whether to trust God or secularism: “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him:
“Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law, but when in their distress, they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them.”
Azariah also commanded Asa to take courage and not to become weak, for his work would be rewarded. History would reveal Asa’s incredible providential honor. He is listed in the book of Matthew as the ancestor of many noble kings and the ancestor of “Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ.”