Saturday, January 21, 2017

Triplets of Idolatry: Like Father, Like Son, Only Worse

King Solomon and his wives in idol worship

King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), but his downfall began with idleness, lust, and selfishness, and culminated in adultery, deception and murder (2 Samuel 11). Despite these egregious sins, however, he continued to seek after the one true God in prayer, fasting, and worship.

In his private time with the Lord, he interceded for the life of his firstborn child with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:16); he repented from his sins (2 Samuel 12:13); and he begged God to restore the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:10-12). Publicly, he honored God with offerings, testimony, and provision for His house to be built (1 Chronicles 29:1-8).

Like David, his son Solomon started off on the right foot, seeking God’s will, praying for wisdom, and honoring God by being a just ruler (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32). But, like David, his lust caused him to offend God in ways that were even worse than his father’s sins.

I say this realizing that God sees all sins as heinous (Romans 3:23), and that we deserve eternal punishment in hell (James 1:15) for even sins that we might perceive as “little,” perhaps telling a “little white lie” that our friend’s dress flatters her, or taking home something small, like a pen, from the workplace.

But James says that if we are guilty in breaking any part of the law, we are guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). Although we deserve hell, God sent His Son Jesus to pay for all of our sins (Romans 3:25), so that all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) will have eternal life (John 3:16).

So why do I say that Solomon’s sins were worse than his father’s? The first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-38). Solomon, who began his God-appointed rule over Israel as the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:7-14; 4.29-32), broke that commandment through indifference, disobedience, and ultimately idolatry.

He began well, having completed the building of the Lord’s house, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do. The Lord appeared to him and promised unconditionally that His Name, eyes and heart would always be in His house that Solomon had built (1 Kings 9:1-3).

A second conditional promise was that Solomon’s throne would rule over Israel forever, if Solomon would follow God as David had, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, and obey all of God’s commandments, statutes and judgments.

But if Solomon turned away from following God, disobeyed Him, and worshipped other gods, then God would cut off Israel from the land He gave them, cast out the house from His sight, and destroy Israel’s reputation. All would know that God had judged Israel for taking hold of other gods, worshipping them, and serving them (1 Kings 9:4-9).

Sadly, Solomon did not heed God’s warning. Like his father David, Solomon got into trouble through his lust for “forbidden fruit” – women he should have avoided, for they were not Israelites following the one true God. Solomon himself knew this, thanks to his God-given wisdom. In his writings in Proverbs, Solomon repeatedly warns his son against flattery, seduction and destruction by the “strange woman” (Proverbs 2:16; 5:3,20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 23:27; 27:13)

Scripture warns us not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers, because relationships with them entail being joined to unrighteousness, darkness, and unbelief (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

Once we are born again (John 3:3-8), the Holy Spirit enters our heart and we become God’s temple – He lives in us, acts through us, and is our God. Therefore, He demands that we come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).

Similarly, the apostle Paul warns believers against fornication, because our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; we now belong to God, and we were bought with the price of Christ’s shed blood on the cross (1 Corinthians 6:15-20; Hebrews 9:22). Therefore, we should not join our members (mentioned three times in 1 Corinthians 6:15), meaning body parts, to those of a harlot.

But King Solomon loved many “strange” (pagan, Gentile) women, namely Egyptian (Pharaoh’s daughter), Moabite, and Ammonite, as well as Edomite, Zidonian, and Hittite women. God had specifically warned the children of Israel not to seek romantic entanglements with these nations, nor to respond to their advances, for they would turn away the heart of the children of Israel from our true God to their pagan gods (1 Kings 11:1-2).

Solomon disobeyed God’s commandment in a big way, taking on seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. Why so many? Physical desire, no doubt, as well as political ambition in forming alliances with other nations, and pride in his vast power, wealth, and fame (1 Kings 10). Satan’s favored strategy is to appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16),

As God had predicted, Solomon’s wives turned away his heart after other gods, so that his heart was not perfect with God, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He failed to follow God; he built high places for pagan worship; and he allowed his wives to offer burnt incense to their idols, most likely himself participating in this abomination  (1 Kings 11:3-8).

In His third appearance to Solomon, the Lord expressed His anger, because Solomon’s heart was turned away from Him, and he had disobeyed God’s explicit commandments. God’s judgment on Solomon was threefold: He would seize the kingdom from Solomon’s family and give it to his servant, yet for David’s sake He would wait until Solomon was dead and then take the kingdom from Solomon’s son (1 Kings 11:9-12).

If we “follow our heart,” as conventional wisdom encourages us to do, and ignore God’s Word, we may become romantically attached to an unsaved person, at our own peril. Our emotions, desires and rationalization lead us to believe that we can change them, but this is unwise (Proverbs 3:5-6). Certainly we should not stop witnessing to and praying for an unbeliever whom we love, but committing to a relationship with them until they are saved is disobedient to God’s Word.

As a loving Father, God longs to protect us from the traps of this world. If we ignore His Word, we will be unable to lead the object of our affection into a saving relationship with Him. Instead, that person will draw us away from the Lord, and His judgment will follow. Idolatry refers to any object, relationship or desire to which we give a higher priority than God (1 John 5:21).

In Solomon’s case, his physical desires, political ambitions, and ultimately other gods usurped the pre-eminence God should have had over his life (Colossians 1:18). May we remain true to Christ and not fall into Solomon’s trap!

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sin’s Consequences: Correction, Chastening, Casualties

David and Bathsheba mourning their son

Sadly, sin is not limited to the unsaved person, but remains as an obstacle even in the lives of those who are born again by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Only Jesus walked this earth without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), but once He calls us home in our glorified resurrection bodies, we will sin no more (1 Corinthians 15:42-57).

In the meantime, it is a daily battle between our old sin nature (Romans 7:5-13) and the born-again (John 3:3-8) new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), who wants to follow the Holy Spirit, yielding to Him rather than quenching (ignoring) or grieving (rebelling against) Him (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). Unless we mortify, or put to death, our sin nature daily, it is all too easy to succumb to temptation (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Even the apostle Paul described his daily struggle between the old law, or sin nature, in his body parts warring against the new law of liberty through Christ Whom he wanted to follow, so that he found himself sinning, doing things that he knew were wrong, while failing to do God’s will (Romans 7:14-25).

King David, who was God’s anointed (1 Samuel 16:13), a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and a wise patriarch, fell far from wisdom, knowledge and understanding, for no man is free of sin (Romans 3:23). As we have seen, his loss of focus on God’s plan for his life led to his flirting with temptation and then outright sins. When we decide to sin, it is a free choice born of our free will – we can’t blame God for not providing an escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), or the devil for making us do it.

Consequences inevitably follow the decision to sin, affecting our own well-being, that of others, and our fellowship with God. Sin never occurs in isolation, but has casualties reaching far beyond those directly involved. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought about their own expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the curse of sin on all mankind, and separation from God (Genesis 3:16-24; Romans 5:12).

David’s desire to hide from the world his sins of lust (Job 31:1) toward Bathsheba, fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and adultery (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Matthew 5:28) resulted in the death not only of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, but also of Abimelech and other warriors, whose lives he had recklessly endangered (2 Samuel 11:13-15).

When David learned that Uriah had died in battle, he apparently was relieved rather than remorseful, for he glossed over the other casualties and encouraged Joab to keep fighting. Bathsheba mourned when she learned her husband Uriah was dead, but then David married her and she bare him a son (2 Samuel 11:16-27).

But there can be no joy when we disobey God to get what we want, for “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord (2 Samuel 11: 27).  When a child of God sins, our loving, just and righteous Father must correct us (Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19), just as an earthly father deals with a rebellious child (Proverbs 13:24) for his own good, for that of others, and to restore their relationship.

If verbal correction is ineffective, physical chastening may be needed, or even casualties with disastrous repercussions for the child’s testimony, his ministry, and his family. God first corrected David, showing him his sin by using the prophet Nathan to compare David to a rich man who took a poor man’s only lamb to prepare a feast for a visitor. When David expressed self-righteous indignation at the cruel behavior of the rich man in the parable, oblivious to his own sin, Nathan said “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:1-7).

Despite David’s repentance, expressed so vividly in many of the Psalms he wrote, Nathan warned that God’s chastening would wreak havoc on David, his family, and his kingdom. God’s message to David was that He had anointed him king, delivered him from his enemy Saul, and blessed him beyond measure. And yet David had despised God, rebelled against His commandments, and did evil in His sight. God’s judgment against David was that the sword of violence would never leave his household, his own family would betray him, and his wives would be sexually assaulted in plain sight of all Israel  (2 Samuel 12:7-12).

When David repented, God forgave him and spared his life, but would take the life of David and Bathsheba’s firstborn son. God’s reason for this judgment was that David’s adultery and its aftermath led God’s enemies to blaspheme Him (2 Samuel 12:7-13-14). This may be one of the most terrifying and sobering consequences of sin – that our sin actually encourages, aids and abets God’s enemies. Do we really want to be on the wrong side of God? (Romans 8:31)

The ensuing maelstrom of deceit, betrayal and bloodshed was far worse than that of any soap opera or murder mystery. David’s son Amnon raped Tamar, who was his half-sister and David’s daughter, and banished her from his sight, which infuriated their brother Absalom. He was so enraged that he plotted for two years and eventually conspired to assassinate Amnon, after which he lived in exile (2 Samuel 13:21-14:24).

David was distraught, more so over the absence of his beloved Absalom than over the death of Amnon or the shame of Tamar. He no longer ruled effectively until he pardoned Absalom and returned him to Jerusalem, initially as a commoner rather than a prince. Almost immediately, Absalom began plotting David’s overthrow, first by convincing David to restore him as a prince, then by openly criticizing David and winning over his own supporters.

Ultimately Absalom’s betrayal of David was so vile, thorough and shocking that he marched on Jerusalem with his troops, forcing David to evacuate; publicly raped David’s concubines; and considered murdering David but instead began a civil war. A string of deaths ensued, not only troops in combat, but also Absalom’s murder by Joab and the suicide of Ahithophel, one of Absalom’s advisors (2 Samuel 14:28-19:8).

David’s response to all this included agonizing heartbreak (2 Samuel 12:16), an attempt to restore leadership while passing the reins to Solomon (1 Kings 1-2), and his intense need to renew his fellowship with God. He prayed (2 Samuel 12:16), wrote and perhaps even sang in the Psalms that God would create a clean heart in him, renew a right spirit in him, and restore to him the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:10-12).

If we choose sin, refuse repentance, and continue to rebel against God, His judgment will demand correction, chastening and even casualties. Ultimately, He may turn His wayward child over to Satan for destruction of the flesh, to prevent further damage to God’s kingdom, while preserving his spirit eternally in heaven (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).

If a man such as David, a man after God’s own heart, could fall so far, and yet be restored and used by God, there is hope for all of us. May we heed this dire warning not to linger in temptation, lest we sin and fall into a downward spiral of ever worsening transgressions. 

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop