These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
1 Corinthians 10:11
I wonder how many of us have read the Bible this way – as containing a series of examples for us to learn from. Both the Old Testament, and the new, are full of illustrations of what to do, and what not to do.
We find in this portion of scripture (1 Corinthians chapter 10) that Paul is talking specifically about the lessons to be learned from Israel’s idolatry. There are those who think idolatry isn’t an important issue, but it was important enough not only for Paul to address is specifically here, but to be warned against, time after time after time throughout the scriptures.
It is no small thing to have an idol. It is not an innocent thing, it is not a harmless thing, and it is certainly not a thing winked at by God.
God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.
In context here, what was Paul preaching about? He was troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in Athens, and was preaching to the people about the real God, the One True God, and how He should not be viewed in the same manner as these idols. And Paul was right, as the idols he was preaching against were not merely things made of stone, wood, or metal, but an abomination to God Himself.
But what is idolatry? Is it merely the worship of some kind of statue? No, there are many forms of idols. Ephesians 5:5 tells us that a greedy person is an idolater, worshipping the things of this world. We see from this verse, that even at this point in the Church’s history, it was well known and taught that the definition of idolatry has a broader scope than merely bowing before an object or giving food offerings to a statue of a false god.
One website states:
Idolatry is the universal human tendency to value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. It is an act of theft from God whereby we use some part of creation in a way that steals from honor due to God. Idolatry conflicts with our putting God alone first in our lives, in what we love and trust (see Exodus 20:3-5; Deut. 5:7-9; Romans 1:21-23). In idolatry we put something or someone, usually a gift from God, in a place of value that detracts from the first place owed to God alone, the gift Giver. That thing or person is an idol. The way out of idolatry is always to love and to trust the gift Giver without interference from any gift or any thing other than God. We will then be able to love and to appreciate gifts appropriately, neither giving them too much power nor failing to be thankful for them. We will then be free indeed, and not in bondage or addiction to anything that cannot fulfill us or give us peace.
This is true, and idolatry is theft from God. There are many things in our world today that are made idols. Money, clothing, people, gadgets, food, entertainment, even brand names. And there is a part of creation very widely idolized by many Christians today that simply should not be – that part of creation is men, particularly men of the celebrity kind. These celebrities are worldly, they lead people away from Christ whether knowingly or unknowingly, and yet many in the Church see no problem with embracing them and what they stand for.
These celebrities, of all fields, be it movies, music, sports, television or what have you, all lead people away from Christ. They teach that it’s okay and actually encouraged to seek fame, and fortune. They teach that it’s okay to take the Lord’s name in vain, and then to thank Him with empty words when they are presented with a little golden trophy that tells the world how “great” this human being is instead of God. They teach that it’s okay to sin, to act like the world and then call yourself a Christian when it’s convenient.
But the fact is this kind of behaviour will only appeal to a heart uncircumcised. A true follower of Christ will be disgusted, offended, and upset by these idols and how they are leading so many people astray.
Music is never just ‘entertainment’. Music is a language more profound than regular human speech. It is spiritual – whether you use it to worship God or not. Music has the ability to influence the mind, the body, and the soul. It can inspire, and it can encourage action. What message is your music giving you?
Music’s purpose was to praise and worship God. Does the music you listen to, and the music you make, do that?
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.-Colossians 3:16
If the message about Christ, in all it’s richness, fills your life…you won’t need and you won’t WANT the songs of the world! The songs that praise sin instead of God will disgust you. If you’re still ‘entertained’ by songs that promote violence, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and all other manner of sin – songs by singers who mock God – if you really can’t see that there is something wrong with this…then you don’t really know Jesus yet, and you are burdened by the yoke of the secular world.
I know what it’s like – I was there. After I got saved I still listened to secular music (in smaller amounts than before, listening to more and more Christian music), but I didn’t part with my secular music right away. I knew something was wrong and that I should probably ditch it, but I “liked” it. I was ensnared by it, brainwashed and hypnotised by the melodies and lyrics of the world that I’d gotten so accustomed to. Looking back I see it as so foolish – but I was in direct rebellion of God!
God mercifully gave me the nudge I needed to get rid of it! He used a situation with the man who is now my husband, to give me the fatherly slap in the face I needed to see that it was idolatry in my life and it needed to go! I listened to the Holy Spirit’s conviction this time and deleted every secular song I had on my computer and threw out every secular CD I owned. Over 3000 songs on the computer, well over 100 CD’s.
But I didn’t stop there. Music is not the only secular brainwasher. I also deleted scores of secular movies and threw out an entire garbage bag of nothing but DVDs and videos. “What a waste of money to throw them out” the flesh said. “What a waste of money buying this trash in the first place!” the spirit said!
The comic books, the romance novels, everything except text book type educational books went out. And I’m glad it did! I regret the time I wasted with my nose buried in silly books, playing pointless games in unhealthy amounts, and listening to noise that did everything it could to distract me from and block out the voice of God!
I praise God that it didn’t work forever – He broke through it all and stirred my heart. He caused me to realize the sheer vanity of it all. Even before I got saved He was there, that small voice in my head, surfacing every once in a while to tell me that my gaming was meaningless and a pointless waste of precious time. I’m so glad that Jesus was always there…not just waiting for me to wake up, but giving me the nudges that, in time, stirred me from my media-coma-sleep.
It is terrible to be living in such a way that your main goal in life is to be entertained. It is awful to be enslaved by worldly amusements that leave you dry, always wanting more. The music may give you a fleeting sense of ‘happiness’ but when the music stops, it’s gone, you’re dry again, you seek out more to fill the void – a void that only Jesus can fill.
Real joy is found only in Jesus, and real freedom too. To trade slavery to the flesh to slavery to Christ is the wisest thing to do. If you are dry, seek Living Water. Stop drinking from the poisoned worldly cistern. It will only make you more and more ill, and draw you away from Christ, though at first you may not notice it happen.
I know what it was like to not want to give the secular stuff up. But I’m on the other side of it now and I’m telling you I don’t regret it for one second. Sure, when I did part with it, there was a small part of me that still wanted to cling on to it – that’s the flesh. I pushed my flesh aside to obey God, and the next day He told me through a devotional that I did the right thing. It wasn’t a daily devotional, it was one in a devotional Bible. A bible I usually didn’t use. That day though, I just flipped it open, and the first thing my eyes landed on was:
Since that day there have so many reassurances, so many ways that the Lord has shown Himself to me…things I never would have seen while blinded by the world. Thank You, Jesus – You are so wonderful.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.-Ephesians 5:17-19
I can tell you exactly what the will of the Lord is. The will of the Lord is that He be your ONLY God, and that you OBEY Him. Get rid of your idols. They aren’t stone and wood anymore…they are many things. And I can assure you 100% that secular music, movies, TV, sports etc IS idolatry. They even call themselves with idolatrous terms. “So and so is a hockey STAR. This girl got to meet her IDOL. Next time on American IDOL” and so on.
None of the world’s “entertainment” is going to draw you closer to Christ, and if you truly walk with God, you won’t be entertained by it…so why keep it? If you refuse to get rid of it…there’s the proof right there that it’s an idol to you, because you’d rather keep it then obey God.
This verse of Revelation is speaking about the woman (the Church). The remnant of her seed (Individual Christians). Observe the description of the remnant of her seed: those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Notice the use of the word ‘and’. It doesn’t say, those who keep the commandments of God OR have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It uses the word AND. Why is the dragon wroth with them? Because he hasn’t been successful in convincing them to become complacent, to indulge in worldliness, idolatry, prayerlessness, and laziness. They haven’t been bound by the traps he set to keep them from God, nor bound by the fear of men that would keep them of proclaiming the truth.
They have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They obey His commandments. They are God’s true children, with enough faith to face any trial. They speak the truth, even though the majority of people don‘t like it. They are protected by the hand of Almighty God. Because of this, they are dangerous to the enemy.
There are those who think that you don’t need to obey the commandments of God anymore. Well, if that’s the case, then why is it that in Revelation, the Christians, the ones so on fire that they’ve got Satan angry, are the ones who obey the commandments? He’s not making war with the cold or lukewarm. He’s not at war with the ones that don’t keep the commandments. He’s already got them stuck in a trap. He makes war with the ones who obey God’s commandments.
Note that the verse doesn’t say “the remnant of her seed, those who don’t need to obey the commandments of God anymore because of grace, He only sees the blood, now.” Think you don’t need to obey the commandments? Then I ask you, since it’s one of the most dominant features of the Bride of Christ, how would this notion make you part of the Bride?
Obedience…it all goes back to obedience. And those who come up with excuses for not being obedient are rebellious.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
1 Samuel 15:23
God has not changed. His commandments have not changed. Unfortunately, mankind as a whole, has not changed! Still rebellious against God and right in his own eyes.
Thinking you are right in your own eyes, does not make it so. Abiding by the rules of men does not always make you right in God’s eyes. Abortion is murder, regardless of what man’s laws say. Homosexuality is sin, no matter what man’s laws say. Biblical truth is right, no matter what man says! We need to strive for holiness and measure ourselves against God’s standards, not man’s standards. Obey God’s commandments!
Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so all will go well with you.
And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
Here we have an archaic display that reminds us of the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ blood sprinkled on you is a sign of a covenant that you made with God. A covenant that you made to turn from your sins and follow Him, understanding that you are a sinner in need of a saviour, and that He is the only Saviour.
Here is something that a lot of people seem to forget: obedience. Just as the Israelites agreed when they heard the laws of God to obey them, we must in this day be obedient to Christ. The history of the Israelites is supposed to be an example to us – of what NOT to do! They agreed to obey God, but time and time again they became too comfortable and complacent when surrounded by the blessings and protection of God.
They lost their fear of the Holy One of Israel. They decided to chase after foreign gods, to go each his own way and do whatever he wanted, committing spiritual adultery and falling into all kinds of perverse sins. They listened to false prophets who told them that all would be well, and God would keep protecting and blessing them.
When the real prophets came in, warning them of danger and telling them to repent, they mocked, attacked, and by many means persecuted God’s real messengers.
Do you want to know who the real false prophet is? It’s the one who won’t warn you of danger! It’s the one who won’t tell you to repent! It’s the one that preaches smooth things – the one that tells you, it’s okay, keep living like you are, God will keep blessing and protecting us – even increasing our blessings.
Do you want to know who the real prophet is? It’s the one that warns you about your sins! He makes you feel uncomfortable because he’s trying to shake you out of a deep, spiritual sleep. He warns you that you need to repent, because God is holy, and if you refuse to repent, you are choosing judgement rather than mercy.
So will you learn from the Israelites bad choices? Or will you repeat them?
With all the forms of entertainment and distraction in the world today, it’s very easy for people – for Christians – to forget the brevity, and the very gravity of life. How you follow and serve Jesus Christ is not a game. Neither is it a game when you disobey Him.
Christians need to walk in repentance. The attitude that says, “I don’t need to repent, I’m already under the Blood,” is dangerous and at best erroneous. The fact that so many of the people harbouring this attitude are using it to whitewash wilful sins of idolatry makes it a tragedy.
You can call a teacup a plate, but that doesn’t make it so. Likewise, you can call sports idolatry and attachment to secular entertainment innocent fun, but that doesn’t make it so. It’s worldliness. It’s filthy. It’s enmity with God.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
You can try to excuse it with the ‘we’re only human, God understands’ statement. Yes, you are only human, yes, God -does- understand! He understands perfectly what’s in your heart and knows you don’t want to give up things that He would have you give up! And since you don’t want to give them up, even if they weren’t idols in the first place, they are idols now, because your unwillingness to let go of them is you placing them ahead of God on your priority list.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
“Yet without sin.” Jesus faced temptation as we do, but did not sin. Jesus has the power to help you overcome any addiction. He has the power to help you be rid of those idols. All you have to do is decide that He’s more important, and then ask Him to show you what to get rid of, and ask Him to help you do it!
He helped me conquer addiction to secular television, movies, books, and music. He helped me defeat videogame addiction. If He can do it for me, He can do it for you! He is more eager to help you, than you are to be helped.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are living in a day where more than ever, we need to manage our time well. So many people spend great portions of their lives ‘killing time’ with amusements that are of no real value. The sand in the hourglass of history is ever closer to running out, and what are many in the Church doing? Playing with the things of the world. Being amused by the same things that amuse the ungodly, going to the same theatres, sports events, concerts as the unsaved – not as witnesses passing out tracts or preaching the Gospel to the lost, but to partake of their sins.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
I can’t convey in words how truly detrimental it is to play with worldly entertainment. Even the things that look harmless truly are, once you are truly awake and can see it for what it is…things that distract you from Christ. Noise that would keep you from hearing Him. Noise that would turn you against Him.
We are told not to touch the unclean thing (what God calls unclean) if we want the Father to receive us. How then can we justify doing the very same things the ungodly do? How, if you do the things the ungodly do, things which separate from Christ – how can you expect them to see Christ when they look at you or I?
They really can’t. What they see is something lukewarm that they can accept and be friends with. And this is the problem. Sin can’t accept and be friends with holiness. It just doesn’t work. The sin must go. Worldliness can not be friends with Jesus, worldliness must go.
And saying, ‘we are supposed to be peacemakers’ does not in any way excuse joining the sinner in his sin. It doesn’t excuse worldliness. It doesn’t excuse continually failing to use opportunities to witness and instead going with the crowd.
We really need to consider how precious time really is. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. At the end of your life what will you regret more? Witnessing with love to the lost, or wasting your time partaking of the very things that are part of why they are so lost?
Satan convinced Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We all know what the consequences were of that. But that cunning serpent still whispers in ears convincing people that it’s okay to partake of secular music, television, movies, books, games…you won’t die…your eyes will be opened and you shall be as gods. Oh, these things are surely harmless, just a bit of fun, relax, don‘t be so uptight. But no, these things create separation from Christ. To not have Christ, is to be dead while you live.
People can go ahead and consider me brainwashed, or a religious zealot, or whatever. But there is something I know. And that is when the Holy Spirit has wanted me to give something up, and I’ve given it up, there’ve been people who think I’m nuts for doing it. I have lost friends over my choices to follow Christ and obey Him. I’ve had people say they liked me better the way I was before. I just take that as confirmation that I’m doing the right thing, because if the world doesn’t like it, then it’s not of the world!
The fact is the people that are truly brainwashed are the ones that are so attached to their mass media that they will flat out refuse to let it go under any circumstance. Folks, if you -refuse- to let something go, even if you know it’s what God would have for you to do, that thing you cleave to has become an idol in your heart.
Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Ephesians 5:3-5 (NLT)
Let’s make a checklist:
Now…we know these are things that we are to let there be NONE of. How many of these things are promoted by secular media?
Oh right…all of them.
Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14
Flee from it…don’t bathe in it. Don’t dabble in it. Flee from it. The way many people clamour over their favourite musicians, actors, sports stars, etc should be a warning. The way people dress to imitate their idols should also be a warning. The fact that it’s a commonly used term by the secular world to call celebrities the idols of their fans should be a big warning.
The people in the media even describe it in terms that make it clear that it’s idolatry. Phrases like American Idol, movie star, ‘rock god’, these are terms that scream idolatry. If you’re a Christian they should also tell you to take no part in it, unless that part is to warn others about the dangers of it.
Therefore brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Going to the books section of Amazon.com, and entering the word ‘Compromise’ in the search window returns more than 273,000 results. Fortunately, the first book on the list is by noted evangelical theologian Norman Geisler and author Ron Rhodes: Conviction Without Compromise: Standing Strong in the Core Beliefs of the Christian Faith.
Is it possible to be a Christian without compromising? One has only to read the New Testament to see that neither Jesus nor Paul ever compromised on matters of theological truth. And when Peter did, he received a stinging rebuke from Paul. (Galations 2:11)
Yes, there is room for concession at times on practical matters. But when it comes to giving in to critics of Christianity in order to spare their feelings, the Bible knows no such strategy. Christ and His gospel are a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:8) to those who choose to disagree.
When your faith or stand for Christ is challenged, ask yourself who’s disappointment you’ll regret most, the critics of Christ, or Christ Himself.
It is better to die for a conviction then to live with a compromise.
(The above text was taken from Pathways by David Jeremiah)
– – – – –
Compromise is not something that should be in the church or in a Christian home. Compromise is what says, “Okay, do things the way the world does them, it’ll make our faith more cool and approachable”. Compromise makes allowances for pet sins that should, according to an uncompromised Word of God, be repented of, and purged, turning away from them completely.
Compromise is what raises generations of young people that have had the lines of what is right, what is wrong, and what is acceptable, so blurred that what should be viewed as wrong is accepted, and even lauded! With such an environment, at times it becomes difficult, without help, to distinguish what is okay and what isn’t…until one steps back and with a nudge in the right direction, sees things for what they really are.
Compromise is the enemy of Christianity. Compromise desensitizes us to things that ought to offend us. Compromise is one of Satan’s ways of infiltrating the church with the filthy things of the world, painting them as innocent, desirable, harmless. The same way he tempted Eve with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he tempts the saints of God with the lure of things that feed the flesh, starve the soul, and rob it of the desire to be in pursuit of holiness with the same basic whisper: “Did God say you shouldn’t? Oh, He’s wrong, it’s okay, it doesn’t hurt anyone.” When these things DO hurt people, whether it is realized or not, there are consequences to choices that involve feeding the flesh over feeding the soul.
Compromise is something I recently fell victim to, and so I speak from personal experience when I say that it’s as deceptive as the devil who uses it against you. There’s a whisper that tries to convince you that “it’s harmless” but in reality, it isn’t. But I thank God that like Peter, my poor choice was quickly seen and rebuked!
I saw what I had, regretfully, missed before and I repented of it with tears to Almighty God, who used this incident as a reminder to me that it is so important not only to stay on guard, but to continue to lean on Him for sight, because the things that tickle the flesh grieve and starve the soul, and they grieve God! Not only this, but it was used to show me that what the world considers trivial, can very easily be a very serious thing that offends God much. And what offends God should not in any way be entertaining to Christians. It can and will hinder your growth in Christ – be rid of it!
“14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:
“I will live in them
and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
17Therefore, come out from among unbelievers,
and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.
Don’t touch their filthy things,
and I will welcome you.
18And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
1 Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.”
2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1
So it boils down to a choice: Do we want to serve only our flesh, and by doing so, serve Satan, or do we want to serve Jesus Christ?
Serving Jesus Christ means following Him, which means by extension an uncompromised Word of God, and not compromising on His teachings and doctrines. It means choosing to be set apart from the world, because you cannot serve two masters. (Luke 16:13) It means putting pride aside and accepting proper correction and chastenings if and when you start to stray from your chosen path. It means repenting…not just once when you get saved, but any and every time that you become aware of something that you did that was wrong in the eyes of God. It means obeying God’s commandments out of love for Him and striving for holiness, knowing that his opinion matters infinitely more than the opinions of men.
To serve Satan…all you have to do is nothing. You may think you can sit on the fence and serve neither God nor Satan, but Satan owns the fence. He is pleased if you try to stay neutral, because if you’re neutral, you’re not serving God. And if you’re not serving God…that only leaves one other that you can be serving.
My choice is Jesus…and to let Him lead me like a little child, for I am His child. And though I may be relatively small in years, and in widsom, though I am small in strength, what I do have is His, because He has given it to me. The best possible use for all of His gifts, are to use them for Him!
- “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
- Luke 16:13 (KJV)
This should be a very familiar verse to Christians. These words were spoken by Jesus Himself. This statement states very clearly an important spiritual truth; there’s only two masters you can serve, and if you serve one, you -cannot- be serving the other, no matter how much you try to convince yourself, or others. And there is -no- convincing God – He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He judges rightly.
Make no mistake. You -are- a servant. Either to God, or to Satan. If you are not actively, seriously, serving Jesus Christ and seeking His face, if you wilfully sin, then you are not a servant of God. If you serve your flesh, by indulging in sinful behaviour, putting other things ahead of God in your priorities, failing to keep your thoughts captive, then you do not serve God. Instead, you’re a slave to sin (John 8:34), and as a slave to sin, are a servant of Satan.
However, as Jesus Himself said, ‘a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.’ (John 8:35-36). I love how the King James version puts it: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Free indeed and a child of God! But this doesn’t mean that, if we’re children of God, that we don’t need to -serve- God. We serve God because we love Him, and after all the things He’s done for us, and all the things He will do, wouldn’t it be incredibly selfish of us to assume that we need do nothing for the Lord of this Universe?
Now, returning to Jesus’ words in Luke 16:13. He says ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon’. What exactly is mammon? Mammon is according to some translations, money itself, but I think it’s more specifically the love of money, in other words, greed. As we know, the love of money is the root of all evil. Mammon is also a false god. So in other words, if your pocketbook is your biggest priority, if your worldly gain means more to you than God, than you’re not serving God.
Anything in this world that takes more priority in your mind and heart than Jesus becomes an idol in your heart. Whether its music, movies, video games, material possessions, people…anything. But more than this, when you change God to fit what you think God should be, instead of taking Him at His word, you’re fashioning yourself an idol in your heart. When you say things like ‘my God wouldn’t let people go to Hell’, for example. Jesus talks about a Rich man who ends up in Hell in Luke chapter 16.
Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
“Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
“The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
“But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”
What I find interesting is the end of this parable, where Abraham says, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.” Someone -did- rise from the dead – Jesus – and sadly, many people won’t listen to Him. Returning to the point though, we should take God as He is, and at His word. When we try to mold Him into what we think God should be, we’re making for ourselves an idol, and stop believing in the True God.God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t change.
- And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
- Matthew 16:26 (NLT)
Earthly wealth and goods pass away, they’re temporal and in the end, worthless. But Jesus Christ is worth more than all the wealth in all the Earth. He is greater than the entire Universe! Oh what sorrow awaits for those souls that fail to recognize Him as Lord. How much is your soul worth? It’s worth enough that the God of this Universe took on human flesh, suffered a most horrible death, and rose again, to wash away the sins that stain the soul for those who would call on Him, believe in Him, and then -follow- Him by dying to self and -obeying- His commandments.
Nowhere in those commandments does it say “pray a sinner’s prayer then go on as you did before”. No – we are to be set apart from the World. We are to forsake the things of the flesh. Forsake the secular media. Forsake addictions and lusts of the flesh. Keep your thoughts captive – it may not be sin to be tempted but it’s sin to wilfully entertain the thoughts those temptations bring, as much as it is sin to pursue those thoughts into deeds. Bring these things to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you overcome the things of the flesh that bind you and keep you distracted from Him.
- Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
- Romans 12:2 (NLT)
- Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.
- 2 Corinthians 6:17
We shouldn’t bear an attitude of ‘what can God do for me’. Rather, our attitude should be, ‘What can I do for God’? With humility, remember the reality of the fact that we can do -nothing- for God by our own strength and power. Anything we do that’ll fulfill God’s purpose can only be done with God’s mercy and strength. Our human frailty will fail in times when we should be bold for Christ.
I want to finish this post by saying something to those who feel like God isn’t answering their prayers: bear in mind that God answers, but the answer to many prayers may be ‘no’. We shouldn’t expect God to give us everything we ask for. We are His servants, not His master. But remember that God will give His children what is best for them, and will make sure their needs are provided for – their needs, not their wants.
God has answered an uncountable number of prayers for me, and I’ve noticed something. When your heart is right, and your motives are right, mountains can be moved. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the sovereign hand of God working in my life. In His amazing love He’s blessed me by putting me in a place where I am not only loved by Him, but I have it in my heart to love Him back, a heart that’s hungry for Him and seeking Him constantly.
He’s blessed me with great gifts…being raised with the knowledge of Him, having family members who love me and living in a country where there’s freedom to love the Lord. He’s blessed me with a wonderful, loving husband that I cherish. Only God could be responsible for all of this. The God who did all this for me, is the God I serve. His name is Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings.
Whether it seems like your prayers are answered or not, God heard you.
- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
- Romans 8:28 (KJV)
So if your heart is right with God and you truly love Him, just trust Him. Commit everything to Him, your life can be in no better hands, and rest assured He hears you, He cares for you.
- Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
- Luke 12:24 (KJV)
If your heart isn’t right with God, there’s no better time to make it right. He can meet you anywhere you are – just call out to Him and repent for not living the way He’d have you to live. Ask Him to help you be the person He’d have you to be, and make efforts to become that person out of your love for Him – do as he commands. Ask Him for His grace and strength when things get tough, and remember, there’s nothing in the world that you can suffer that is more than what Jesus suffered for your sake because of His great love for your soul.