This column by the late Executive Editor ofCHRISTIANITY TODAYwas first published in the February 12, 1965, issue.

Has your home been robbed? The master thief of the ages is abroad and at work. Our pockets are being picked, our homes robbed, our most treasured possessions rifled. Spiritual seed is being plucked from our hearts and minds, and in its place the seed of doubt and error is being planted.

Many of us are unaware of the robbery. Like birds fascinated by the glitter of a diamond but equally fascinated by a worthless bauble, so we seem satisfied with things of this world, with human speculations and solutions, when we should settle for nothing less than what proceeds from God’s love and grace.

Like the victim of an adept pickpocket we have been robbed without knowing it. Like a householder walking in a dream we have been unaware of the removal of priceless treasures from our homes. Like the naïve prey of a flimflam artist we have permitted things of eternal value to be replaced by trivialities.

We ought to search our own homes to see whether they have been robbed. If they have been, certain important things will be missing, and things of no permanent value will have been put in their place.

The Bible. Almost certainly a Bible will be found somewhere; but if it is covered with dust or crowded into a bookcase with unused books, it might as well be a thousand miles away.

There will be many books in the home. Daily newspapers and news magazines will be there, of course, as will professional journals and various other kinds. But in the robbed house the Book of the ages will be absent as a lamp to keep the inhabitants from stumbling and a light to lighten their path.

If the Bible is absent, there will be ignorance where there should be understanding, uncertainty where there should be certainty, confusion where there should be peace, weakness where there should be strength, and—most serious of all—trust in man where there should be reliance on the Son of God.

The family altar. The victim of the master thief will find that there is no place in the home where the family gathers to read God’s Word and pray, no source of reference higher than self and other humans, no force to bind the home together in the face of the tensions that are an inevitable part of our world.

Communications. There will be a number of radios and at least one TV set. There will be a telephone, perhaps with extensions to various rooms. But all messages, incoming or outgoing, will be with people.

In the robbed house communication with God will be severed. There will be no two-way contact with the One who inhabits eternity, no asking for and receiving of divine guidance. There will be no time when with faithful and obedient hearts those who live in the house wait quietly to hear a Voice saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.”

Yes, the robbed house will be devoid of one of God’s most precious gifts—the privilege and power of prayer.

Values. The house where Satan has had his way will be a place where values are utterly confused. There may be an abundance of material things, but the things that last for eternity will be absent. Fun will be substituted for joy. The praise of men will be chosen rather than a “Well done” from the Lord of the universe. The gratification of physical desires will be the chief interest, and anything that calls for self-denial will be rejected. Self will be paramount as Christ is crowded away from the door of the heart.

Discipline. Both self-discipline and the discipline of children will be absent. Parents will lack those disciplines that proceed from the Christian faith and that make personal example a witness in itself. Children will be denied the character-forming discipline they so desperately need during the developing years.

Grace at meals. A triviality? No, an acknowledgement of God as the source of all good things, and the very least we should offer as we partake of his bounty. The enemy of souls tries to rob our homes of grace at meals and of anything else that gives honor and glory to God.

The Lord’s day. In the robbed house Sunday is a holiday, not a holy day. Instead of physical rest and spiritual refreshment the day provides opportunities for catering to the body and to secular matters.

The Sabbath, a part of God’s economy and loving provision for mankind, is desecrated to man’s immediate and eternal loss. If God’s day is not honored, on Monday morning there is, instead of a refreshed body, mind, and spirit, only tiredness and frustration.

But a home need not be robbed. There are many modern devices that make robbery difficult. Alarm signals may be installed to warn when a burglar is at work. Doors and windows can be securely locked.

And just as one’s house may be protected against thievery, so the home may be made strong against the master thief—Satan. God has provided every safeguard for individuals and for their homes. When these safeguards are used properly, there is perfect safety.

At the top of the list is the two-way communication system, always open to and from our Heavenly Father. Faithful study of God’s Word brings both wisdom and warning. The prayer channel open at all times makes possible cries for help answered by words of encouragement and guidance.

What is necessary for the individual is also necessary for the family as a whole. When God’s means are used, the master thief finds himself thwarted. Many people know their homes are not safe; they know they have been robbed of the things that count. Discouraged and frustrated, they turn to tawdry replacements. But others do not even know they have been robbed.

At the doors of heart and home there stands One who longs to enter and set up the needed safeguards. Christ wants to take over so that there will be no further robbery. He wants to instill in every heart and home the means of grace that enable us to distinguish between valuables and cheap substitutes.

In the things God has provided there is complete protection. There is an amazing provision for restoration of what has been lost.

Long before modern insurance companies thought of the protection provided in a “home-owner’s policy,” God had provided the perfect protection against the most wily of all thieves, the Devil.

He wants us to take out such a policy now!

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