Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A God Mandated Divorce
Heb.4:17 - Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
The Spirit uses the name Ephraim, the second son of Joseph and one of the tribes in the Northern Kingdom, to refer to the ten tribes in the Northern Kingdom usually called Israel. The Lord says that these ten tribes are joined to their idols so let them have what they want. These tribes worshiped all kinds of idols and were enamored by their own strength. They even resorted to worshiping Baal. It was a deep time of spiritual apostasy.
But there are many prophetic looking glasses in Old Testament narratives such as this. God’s people were joined to idols, which can also be translated “married to idols”. Idolatry was rampant and when God’s people become married to idols it affects every single aspect of their spiritual walk. In fact, in many ways, it is such a sin that it causes a breach between the believer and His God. But God is relentless and He strongly convicts His people and commands them to repent.
Hos.11:8 - How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
od’s hearts is filled with compassion, and so He still desires repentance. He wants restoration through repentance. God refuses to completely give up on His people. And so it is today.
The sin of nationalism continues to grow with breathtaking velocity and ferocity in these last days. The caustic verbiage and unholy allegiances are being practiced with great intensity. Millions of believers are married to their idol. And one of the tragic aspects of nationalism is that it is a Trojan Horse for all kinds of compromise and sin. But let us define nationalism and its Siamese twin patriotism.
When a sinner is born again he is translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has changed. Now that sinner usually does not realize the extent and the specifics of that change. When I was born again I knew I was different on that very first day, however letting the Spirit illuminate me to God’s will in all areas is a journey. Sometimes little steps and sometimes big steps are part of the process, but we should always be in the process of change. That change is geared toward making us like Jesus.
The easiest things to see are those which are obviously sin. Lying, immorality, drunkenness, drugs, and other things are easily recognized as unlike Christ and many times they are the first things to go. That is a good thing. But after we come to a level of maturity the Lord expects us to sharpen our listening skills in the Spirit and also to continue to be transformed with the same vigor we had in the early days of our conversion. But so often we get content and become spiritually petrified.
But one of the most difficult areas in which to change are those that are not of God but are accepted and practiced within the evangelical community. So when we are saved, and when we begin to worship at a local assembly, we can easily become deceived if that assembly practices something that is not in accordance with God’s will. Why? Because there are people in that fellowship who love and serve Jesus, and they being more Biblically knowledgeable than are you, there is a tendency to not only refuse to question that practice, but usually we unknowingly adopt such a practice.
And that is exactly what happened to me and in fact several generations of new believers. We came in as blank slates but in love with Jesus. And the more mature believers nurtured us and prayed for us and little by little we matured and our lives began to exhibit outside what had taken place inside. It was and still is a glorious time! There is nothing that is too much sacrifice for our wonderful Lord.
But hidden in the ecclesiastical construct was a subtle but devious sin. And this sin was so clandestine and so prevalent and so embraced that we did not even question it. In fact, we embraced it and taught it to those who came after us. Many of us taught it to our own children. I did. And I also taught it and practiced it to my congregations. It was the sin of nationalism, and in Biblical parlance that is the sin of idolatry.
I did not mean to lead people astray, I really didn’t. I desired to walk holy and with integrity before my Lord. But such is the nature of deception. You that follow Rob Bell or Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or others would do well to reexamine just what is being said and taught. But our generation became captured by the same deception, and without malice we were married to our idol. But it was extremely difficult to see and perhaps even more difficult to turn from.
When you even raise the question of patriotism being incongruent with the teachings of Jesus and His Word you will be looked at as if you have become unhinged. But it is not only important, but it is imperative that believers individually and the church at large divorce this idol. We must see it for what it is: a colossal weight on our spiritual integrity and an enormous hindrance to the gospel message. And shouldn’t that be what we are all about, the spreading of the gospel?
We have been caught in a snare and instead of asking God for the power to escape we have allowed the evil one to surreptitiously incorporate this idol into our very theology. And now we even pledge allegiance to this snare. Take a moment and look around and give some thought to the condition of the western church. Does it seem like God’s power is coursing through her veins? Are we penetrating the culture with the message of God’s wonderful grace? Or is the culture penetrating the church until the difference between God’s people and those that are lost is indistinguishable.
And if you see a problem, then it behooves us who desire to please Christ to place everything upon the altar and ask the Spirit to burn away that which is not of God. But let it be said that we have not just dabbled at idolatry, we have become married to it. And like Israel we have brought Baal right into our gatherings of worship. Does not just the suggestion of such a thing deeply disturb your spirit? Do we really desire Christ or are we going to settle for that which satisfies our carnal religious obligations?
But count the cost.
II Sam:24:24 -…neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
avid desires to offer unto the Lord a sacrifice, but instead of offering a free gift from someone else, David pays for it. He will not offer something to the Lord that cost him nothing. What a profound and glorious attitude! And if you desire to take a painful and uncomfortable inventory of your own spiritual life, and if that inventory includes an inspection of things that are “settled law” within evangelicalism, then be prepared to pay dearly in church circles. There are many things about which people will discuss, but there are some things that have become golden calves and precious to their hearts that will result in criticism and more if you dare question their spiritual veracity.
But in view of the price that Christ paid for our redemption and ransom, do we not owe Him - say - our very lives!? What is too high a price? Are we going to protect our reputation in the sight of men? Are we afraid to upset the status quo? Are we way too comfortable to even enter the prayer closet with open Bible in hand and beg the Spirit to do whatever surgery is necessary? Is it just about heaven or is it about serving the Lord Christ with all our hearts in view of heaven?
Our mandate is clear. We must divorce our idols whatever they may be. Of course we have some smaller idols, and they should be addressed as well. But the idol of nationalism has in these last several years risen to the top. And the Spirit of God is shining a light upon it and we can no longer feign ignorance. This is one divorce that God demands. God will never approve of spiritual bigamy, and when we are married to Christ and idols we are spiritually lawless. We are putting Christ to an open shame.
Forget about the Osteens and the Warrens and the Bells for a moment and allow the Spirit to search your own heart and life. Are you so certain about this issue, and have you fasted and prayed so deeply, that you will not even entertain the searching of God’s Spirit? If so, then this post is not for you. But if you are reading this and feel the slightest nudge to step into a more sacrificial path of personal scrutiny, I strongly encourage you to follow through. Yes, there will be times of discomfort and maybe ridicule, but I can assure you, Christ will more than fill that void and you will be granted by His grace a vision of God’s glory that surpasses understanding.
May God grant you the power and the perseverance to seek Him with your whole heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes Rick, I love my brothers and
sisters at church. But most are
married to America and many to the
Nation of Israel,(another golden
calve)...It really does make me
sad. I am happy I live here and
glad this nation has a friend in Israel. But I'm sure you are right,
we need to have a divorce. Let's pray for that! Thanks, Ken