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" Living Among the Heathen "

"...my name shall be great among the heathen."-Mal. 1:11.
"Why do the heathen rage?"Ps. 2:1.
... that I might preach him among the heathen."-Gal. 1:16.
"Learn not the way of the heathen."-Jer. 10:2.

We send missionaries to the heathen. Often. the word heathen appears in the Bible-at least 147 times! The dictionary definition of the heathen is: A person who does not believe in the God of the Bible. Not a Christian, Jew or Moslem. People who are heathen, irreligious and unenlightened. That dictionary says people who do not believe in the God of the Bible are heathen!

Some missionaries, shocked when they return to America and see how our beloved land has degenerated, say those "heathen" lands should be sending missionaries to the United States. Bibles can be passed out in Russian schools now but not in our schools.

When a Brinks truck overturned in Miami, a half-million dollars in coins and bills was stolen by nearby residents. One boy who returned 85 cents he picked up was hailed as a hero. In Singapore it is most likely all of that money would have been returned.

In America, many children sass their parents and disobey. Millions of children in Hispanic or Oriental countries wouldn't dare do that.

How Do We Describe The Heathen?

In our Baptist Sunday School and Training Union we boys were told what the "heathen" are like:

  1. They wear little or no clothes.
  2. They pierce their flesh and even wear rings in their noses and lips.
  3. They streak their faces with paint and weird markings.
  4. They dance and gyrate in obscene fashion.
  5. They drink concoctions that make them tipsy and irrational.
  6. They make vulgar movements and gestures.
  7. They utter profane and angry speech
  8. They beat on drums and make horrible noises
  9. They treat human life lightly and are frequently violent
  10. They are sexually loose and promiscuous.
  11. They worship strange gods and idols.
  12. They sacrifice their children to devils.
Need I go on?

When we spoke then of the heathen, we thought of Africa, Borneo, Brazil, Haiti, New Guinea and such places. Those were the "heathen.".

Our missionaries went to the heathen. We sent food, clothing. and medicine to these "heathen" lands. The heathen were "overseas."

Here at home people who were evil were said to be acting like the heathen! For the heathen were irreligious and unenlightened, the dictionary told us. They did not believe in the God of the Bible.

Do We Describe Ourselves?

But hold on, now! Am I a heathen? Are you a heathen? God did not say the heathen were only in certain backward lands. In the Old Testament He spoke of Israel as His "chosen people". The Gentile unbelievers around them were numbered among the heathen.

In Leviticus 26 God was speaking to His chosen ones, telling them not to make or worship idols. They were told to "keep, my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary" and God would give them rain and bless their harvest.

Many other good things He promised them if they would obey and serve Him. But He predicted that if they did not obey Him He would "scatter (them] among the heathen" and even said ,"And ye shall perish among the heathen.."

In II Kings 16:3 Ahaz, king of Judah, was said to be doing "according to the abominations of the heathen," ruining his own children, just like the heathen around him in Israel.

Succeeding kings "walked in the statutes of the heathen" just like the wicked, to whom they were supposed to be a testimony (II Kings 17:8).

Later in II Chronicles 33:9, Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem "to err, and to do worse than the heathen." When those who have been enlightened go back on the truth and become rebels, it seems they always "do worse than the heathen."

Ezra 6:21 speaks of "the filthiness of the heathen." The heathen "rage, and... imagine a vain thing" (Ps.2:1). The heathen ridicule true believers when troubles come and cry, "Where is their God?" (Ps.79:10).

When believers compromise with the world, they are soon "mingled among the heathen" (Ps.106:35). After that they learn their ways, serve their idols and sacrifice their children to the Devil (vss.36,37). We see it all around us today! Silver and gold and the things of the world become their idols (Ps.135:15).

Multitudes of modern-day church members are just as evil and wicked in their ways and works as the rankest of unbelieving sinners around them and have, as God puts it, "gone a whoring after the heathen" and are "polluted with their idols" (Ezek. 23.30).

They "pray," but it is only "the vain repetitions" of the heathen that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:7.

The heathen gave Paul a rough time (II Cor.11:26), even as they vilify and despise fundamental, Bible believing preachers in our day. Paul's burden was for the souls of the heathen around him.

Who Are The Heathen?

Looking back at what constituted the "heathen" in pagan lands when we were children, we see the heathen have come to us in full force here in America in the '90s.

  1. Like the naked savages in pagan jungles, we behold the heathen of the USA gallivanting around in public wearing little or no clothing. There is an obsession with nudity in the twentieth century. Common decency prompts people of character to cover up their naked bodies. After Adam and Eve sinned, God immediately covered them with coats of skins.

    But now we are assaulted by nakedness and semi-nakedness at every turn. Pornography runs rampant in the land. Movies proudly advertise "nudity" as one of the drawing cards to keep the swine coming to the trough. The television industry becomes more daring each season as the characters proudly run around wearing very little. Sleazy strip joints and dance halls flash blinking lights to draw the heathen with appeals of naked flesh. Thus what we laughingly call civilization retreats to the "heathen" jungle.

  2. More and more moderns, especially in the entertainment world, are piercing their flesh. Rock musicians are shown with rings, pins and gadgets of all descriptions in their noses, ears, lips and other extremities. Now school principals are trying to figure out how to maintain a civilized atmosphere since many undisciplined youngsters are bringing such heathenism right into the hallways and school classrooms.

  3. Rock stars and movie stars are the idols of worldly youth. These "musicians" and "entertainers" pile on the paint, adding grotesque designs as they imitate (and represent) the demons of Hell. No faces found by missionaries around ancient pagan campfires in the jungles could be more hideous.

  4. Modern dances are obscene, and the gyrations of these heathen performers are as provocatively suggestive as any pagan ritual or death dance discovered among the "heathen" of backward countries.

  5. Beer, wine and whiskey flow like water as millions of addicts become bleary-eyed alcoholics and millions more are problem drinkers, leading to quarrels, fightings, drunken brawls, fires, bloody collisions, divorces, broken homes and abused children. How heathen can you get?

  6. Vulgarity and gross obscenities are seen and heard on every hand as humanity scrapes the bottom of the barrel in today's heathen debauchery.

  7. Profane and boisterous words are flung about carelessly as sordid bathroom and barn yard jokes saturate TV programs and school yard conversations. Anger, malice, hatred and violence all around us give evidence of our heathenism as God's holy name is taken in vain at every turn.

  8. Jungle drums are in evidence on the rock 'n' rail scene in concerts, dances, night club orgies and performances that reach even into many modern day "churches." The perverted noise of jungle music is heard in White House extravaganzas and shopping center loudspeakers.

    The same monotonous beat permeates much of the "contemporary music" scene in "mega-churches" that would never want to be classified as heathen sanctuaries. But what else could you honestly call them?

  9. As heathen idolaters have been known to cast their own children into the fire to satisfy the gods, so in America millions of precious unborn children are sacrificed in the abortion clinics of modern-day heathenism. A multitude of married couples would like to adopt these little unwanted darlings, but the mothers, not wanting the 'inconvenience' of carrying the product of their iniquities for a few months. just slaughter them in a manner much more painfully excruciating than an exterminator uses to rid a place of crawling varmints!

    Violence is seen all around us as teens and adults settle their difficulties and dislikes by committing cold-blooded murder. I believe many of the "heathen" in pagan lands would be shocked at the gory violence of modern day sophisticates here in enlightened (?) America.

    We refuse to obey God about the capital punishment of murderers and certain other criminals (Gen. 9:6). The very people who want the legal killing of unwanted children via abortion, are no doubt the ones who protest the loudest against the God-ordained execution of dangerous murderers. How insane to sanction the brutal killing of the innocent and the freedom of the murderous guilty!

  10. Unenlightened natives in the so-called heathen lands of paganism could be no more sexually promiscuous than our present generation of hedonists who "shack up" with an unmarried partner just as if they were man and wife.

    This vile practice is called fornication and whoredom in the Bible. Modern versions do not use the word fornication, but God used it often in His Word.

    AIDS was first discovered in America only among the perverted sodom ites, called "homosexuals,' in San Francisco. But now they gladly announce that it is not a "gay" disease, that many women and even innocent children carry the virus. But why is this so? Only because we have such a sex-crazed society today that many engage in bisexual encounters, multisexual flings and drug-enslaved orgies, so that people are getting the plague secondhand, thirdhand or worse!

    Meanwhile, our New Age taught public school authorities are telling little children that since they are going to be sexually active, they must be taught the whole process in so-called sex education classes in order to understand adult actions and terminology. If they slip up and make a mistake, they can take care of the problem over at their friendly neighborhood abortion clinic. How can you get any more heathen than that?

    In case they're not so fortunate as to be in a school liberal enough to have sex promotion classes, they can be inspired and aroused by evening TV sitcoms to learn at a very young age exactly what will be expected of them on a date. Are we still naive enough to wonder why we have a generation of teens in trouble?

  11. As the "heathen" in other lands have always been known to worship strange gods and idols, so we see it here in our "educated" homeland. From the New Age "channeling" and transcendental meditation practices of contemporary boomers, to the slavish superstition of finding a "vision" of the Virgin Mary in cloud formations and skyscraper windows, we see modern-day idolatry. Others kneel before statues, burn candles and finger beads as part of their unscriptural ritual!

    Millions of otherwise irreligious American pagans are devoted to their movie stars, rock stars and athletic stars. So the idolatry goes on "among the heathen," as God puts it. This is to say nothing of the countless millions to whom money is god. "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (I Tim.6:10). "Covetousness is idolatry," as the Bible teaches in more than one place.

  12. As pagans in heathen lands have been known to sacrifice their own children to demons, so in modern America millions of parents do the same by giving them dancing lessons, thrusting them into adult activities while they're still tots, allowing them to have unsupervised TV sets in their own rooms and/or permitting them to have rock tapes and attend unspeakably vile rock concerts. Many of these are soon on drugs or involved in perverted sex like the rock stars they watch and listen to. Soon they "perish among the heathen."
The Unsaved Are The Heathen

In Bible times the non-believers were the heathen. God has not changed His Word on this. People do not have to be drunken, profane or perverse to be numbered among the heathen. "He that is not with me is against me," said Jesus in Matthew 12:30.

"He that hath the Son hath life and he that hath not the Son God hath not life," we read I John 5:12. It's as simple as that. Either people are saved or they're not. "He that believeth not is condemned already," the Saviour said in John 3:18.

What Should We Do?

  1. Recognize the heathen. People are so easily duped. The human heart being what it is-"deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer.17:9)-we find that even many Christians have no discernment and are totally taken in by the worldly philosophy of the heathen. They have heard mealy-mouthed "clergypersons" prate about being "tolerant" and not "judgmental" (both unscriptural words) until they are devoid of spiritual common sense. Theirs is a brand of "Christianity lite" Their spiritual food has been religious pabulum and new evangelical cotton candy.

    Consequently, many assume that if their neighbor or friend or schoolmate is moral, kind or halfway decent and goes to some kind of a religious gathering on Sundays, he or she must a true Christian. But Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them"; and again, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt.7.20-21).

    Many Christians turn out to be unchristian in their actions. A political leader can go to church every Sunday, wave his Bible at reporters and say, "God bless you" in his speeches, while endorsing late-term abortions and attending dances.

    A noted entertainer who was once a "squeaky-clean" contemporary Christian singer in gospel meetings, has been seen in rock 'n' roll company endorsing some corrupt pagan music. Christians should be able to recognize the heathen.

  2. "Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people," as God instructs us in Psalm 96:3. We are to be a genuine testimony to the lost around us and so live that their mouths will water for what we have found in Christ.

    Of course some will shake their heads at us, and God will sometimes allow us to be "a byword among the heathen". (Ps.44:14). This is to be expected: so "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you" (I Peter 4:12).

    Christians should stand up for Jesus among the lost, and Bible believing saints should stand for truth against the heretics. We are to expect "the reproach of the heathen." (Neh. 5:9).

  3. "Learn not the way of the heathen," God says in Jeremiah 10:2. Since we are new creatures in Christ, we must be careful to maintain our spiritual separation from the world and the enticements thereof. We are not to drink their potions, learn their dances, imitate their fleshly customs, delight in their applause, covet their idols or indulge in their profanities (see James 4:4; and I John 2:15). God told His children in Ezra 6:21 that they were to separate themselves from the filthiness of the heathen.

  4. Win the heathen. Jesus commanded and commissioned the church in Matthew 28, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations" the Gospel, assuring us that His delight was to "give thee the heathen for thine inheritance' (Ps.2:8).

    If we don't fish for men and catch these perishing souls for Christ, the Devil will catch them for Hell. "He that winneth souls is wise' (Prov. 11:30). The time is short.

    It probably is not best to tell them they are heathen, but we dead sure have to show them from the Bible that they are sinners, for no one is going to call on a Saviour until he knows he is lost and needs to be saved. Romans 3 is still probably the best place to start. -


Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.

If someone reading this message has never been saved, you can thank God that He has frankly told you of your heathen, lost condition. We need look no further than the headlines in the morning paper to know that something is dreadfully wrong with the human race. That something is SIN.

But-good news! God has provided a Saviour for every sinner, which is the main theme of the Bible. He loves you and does not want you to perish among the heathen. The heart of the problem is the problem of your heart, which is wicked, deceitful and rebellious by nature. He can and will wash your heart clean in the blood of His cross if you will today turn from your sin of unbelief to accept His provision for your cleansing and salvation.

"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures".(I Cor. 15:3) Trust Him now and you will never perish among the heathen.


by: Evangelist Hugh Pyle
as published in the 8/22/97 issue of "The Sword of the Lord"
(used by permission)

The Sword of the Lord
PO Box 1099
Murfreesboro, TN 37133
Phone: 1-615-893-6700
e-mail: sword@edge.net
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