About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Legislating Godliness


King Josiah ruled the southern kingdom of Israel from 640 B.C. to his death on the battlefield in 609 B.C..  He became king at the age of eight years old after his idol worshiping father King Amon was murdered by his servants.  Josiah's claim to fame was that he instituted more religious reforms in Israel than any other king of Israel, but it was all for nothing  


In 586 B.C., just twenty three years after
Josiah died, the Babylonian army attacked Israel, devastated Jerusalem, killed thousands of Jews, and took the rest hostage to Babylon.  There is no real debate among Evangelical Bible teachers.  This tragedy was an act of divine judgment on a disobedient Israel. 


There is an interesting point to consider here.  Understanding that Israel's demise was an act of God's judgment, it is obvious to me that the legislative reforms that King Josiah instituted in Israel did not take hold on Jewish culture, and thus the reason for Israel's fall in 586 B.C..   


I have always maintained that legislating morality or godliness into a culture does not mean that the culture will become Biblically moral and godly.  You cannot legislate sin out of existence.  Neither can you legislate godliness into existence.  The removal of sin and the implementation of godliness is a matter of the heart.  It is not a matter of government legislation or legalities as was clearly seen in Israel under King Josiah's rule. This fact is relevant in our present social/political climate, and it is especially relevant in America  today.


There is much excitement among American Evangelical Christians these days.  Their hope and belief is that their present government and a revamped Supreme Court can legislate sin out of American culture in order to restore their nation to the Christian values it once embraced.  I suggest that even considering the present political atmosphere legislative reforms and changes in the law of the land cannot change the human heart.  Culture changes when the hearts of people in the culture change.  In Biblical terms this change is realized by a positive response to the preaching of the gospel under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit. 


There may well be some legislative reforms and  court rulings that reflect Biblical thought in America's near future, but unless there is a heart-felt change in individual Americans towards the gospel of Christ, there will be no change in culture.  What happened to Israel after the reforms of King Josiah might happen to America, and really, the rest of the West as well.  In the meantime, the church's primary responsibility is to live and proclaim the full gospel of Christ and His kingdom to the culture in which it exists.  No matter the nation in which you live, that is your only hope.  Nations rise to prominence and they fall into obscurity, and more often than not, it is due to the hand of the Lord's judgment.        

Home Page