Introduction: In the introductory part of this teaching – The Implications of the Watchman’s llth Hour Business which we considered last Sunday, we reviewed what the 11th hour business is all about, enumerated the implications and went on to treat the first in the line-up of the implications, namely: Ensuring That We Are All True Children of God, Heaven Bound and Reputable. In this second teaching in the series, we are considering the necessity of our being: Men of Sound Spiritual Life. It will be brought under these two points: Sound Conscience/Mind and Sound Conduct.
Sound Conscience/Mind (2Tim. 1:3; 2Pet. 3:1).
Let’s begin by explaining that soundness in this context has to do with the quality of being in a good or appropriate condition; without pollution, defect or impairment. Conscience refers to a person’s awareness of right or wrong with regard to his/her own thoughts and actions. Conscience reflects the state of the mind. When we talk of sound conscience or sound mind, we are talking of the ability to think right or consider issues appropriately. And as a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Pro. 23:7). If one’s thoughts are right one’s actions will be right. The converse is also true. The mind/conscience is not sound when thoughts are warped and one finds it difficult to see things in the proper or right perspective.
When men don’t think right, they get angry, bother about and murmur at what should not have mattered if they had right thoughts
It takes total submission and yieldedness of one’s will and mind to God and heartily calling upon Him, for self to be destroyed and the impurities that make for unsound, unhealthy and unrighteous thoughts, purged (cp. Heb. 9:13-14).
Sound Conduct (Phil. 2:13-16).
Conduct has to do with a person’s behaviour. As already pointed out, the state of the mind is reflected in conduct. God is interested both in our pure mind and sound conduct. He not only weighs actions, He also considers the mind (cons. ISam. 16:7).
Those who have received the kind of assignment as we talk about in the 11th hour business are not people that can afford to behave anyhow they like, while hoping to successfully execute it. If we are people that can be readily faulted, then it will be difficult for others to take us serious. Therefore, if we want to carry out this 11th hour business, we must be men that are sound and blameless in our conduct; men that are righteous before God and not easily rightly faulted by men (Phil. 2:15).
And this is very possible if we are spiritual men and women, boys and girls, who take their time to judge themselves and the things they do (cp. Rom. 8:6-8; I Cor. 2:15; 11:31).
Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless (Lk. 1:5-6). Elijah was always standing before God faultless (lKgs. 17:1). If we accept this, desire and seek it with all earnestness, God who has promised it, is able to make it possible in our lives (1Thes. 5:23-24).
Just Shy of Slavery
What I saw and read left my stomach churning because I had read so much about Slave Trade and even watched some documentary films about it. It is open knowledge that this trade in exchanging human beings for material commodities had been abolished over two centuries ago, even on the shores of Nigeria. What Nigerians get to see to know that the trade actually took place in parts of their country are relics like shackles, chains and chain locks that have been well preserved in museums across the country by archaelogists and historians for educative and tourism purposes.
One of those who held nothing back in the advocacy for the abolition of this form of man’s inhumanity to man was a female missionary from Scotland, Mary Slessor, while doing her missionary work in Calabar. The stoppage of the killing of twins by ethnic nationalities in those parts as part of their traditional beliefs equally owes largely to the doggedness of Mary Slessor to have the people change their barbarism and embrace the new religion of the white man, Christianity, a religion that preached love, peace and forgiveness with only one God who was the supreme being that created the universe and created the institution of the family with one man to one wife and children who were considered gifts from Him and who were to be treated with love, understanding and kindness in being brought up to be well behaved.
It is to her credit that today, more than a century after her death and burial in Calabar, the ethnic groups around the former Calabar Ogoja Rivers Region, the Ibibio, Anang, Efik, Ogoni, Bekwara, etc, have abandoned such evil practices and with all enthusiasm embraced the religion of the white man with many occupying the highest offices in Christianity and even establishing indigenous churches which have been of immense value in discarding traditional fetish beliefs and practices that had rather drawn back and held them back.
Modernism indeed made great inroads into the area with the establishment of churches, schools and hospitals and integrating the indigenes into missionary work, which was a good bait in fastening the conversion of the local populations from their former retrogressive ways of life into the modernistic ways of the white man that were clearly evidence-based, especially as the people saw that people of the same skin pigmentation as they who usually accompanied the white people, were not only dressed like the white missionaries but also spoke the strange language of the white people and had fast caught on some of their mannerisms.
Long after Nigerians have come to terms with the abolition of slave trade among them, suddenly they have been jolted to the presence of modern day slavery, otherwise trafficking in human beings, especially whisking off unsuspecting ladies to other parts of the world, particularly Europe and Northern Africa for prostitution while the males end up providing slave labour for some demented slave masters.
However what sent chills down my spine had been what I recently read in the media concerning some people in the North Western part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who reportedly chained their children in confinement for years. One of the reports emanated from Kano where a man had bound his 30-year-old son, Namama Aliyu inside a garage for ten years until recently.
From Kebbi State came a report that a man chained his own son for two years inside a Goat Pen, shortly after his mother had died about two years after his birth. He was said to have survived on goat feed and sometimes on his own faeces.
Fortune has smiled on the recently freed lad as the Kebbi State Government has taken over his medical responsibility and his full rehabilitation and reintegration into society as well as a scholarship from primary to university level.
Meanwhile the police in Kebbi State have arrested the supposed father of the lad and his two step mothers and investigations are ongoing into the matter.
I now hit memory-lane to recall that there once lived in the present-day Eastern European country of Russia, Ivan The Terrible in then Soviet Russia, which later was the leading country in the Communist bloc known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, which was dismembered into many independent republics in the 1980s and 1990s.
Ivan The Terrible as the name connotes was reputed for his flying rage that was ignited at the slightest provocation , leaving in its wake terrible devastation in his fits of anger , which came much too often. He was said to have personally shot dead people in their innocence, including people close to him like family members like wives, girl friends, children and other relations. As a celebrated saddist, he took great delight in seeing people hounded, bound and being punished as he sat by and enjoyed his Vodka while the violin was being played by a court jester.
Ivan The Terrible, the last Czar that ruled Russia before the Russian Revolution, is classified among the most unfeeling and heartlessly wicked men that have ever peopled the Earth’s surface. He could be likened to the Adolph Hitlers, Benito Musolinis, Idi Amins, Jean Bedel Bokassas, Mobutu Sese Sekkos, Muamar Gaddaffis, Saddam Husseins and Osama Bin Ladens of the world.
Even at the height of his dementia, I am inclined to believe that even Ivan The Terrible, were he alive now and lived in these parts, could hold as most despicable, these heartless men’s actions even though he had done even worse things to other human beings without discrimination as his flying mood dictated, which was quite too often. This is given the gale of change that has swept off Communist socialism that had informed his ideological bent at the time he held sway in his country.
No matter what may have informed the maltreatment of their sons, the law must take its full course on the devilish fathers with their accomplices.