Practical Application of the Word of God
There is a faulty belief that has been perpetuated throughout the history of the ekklesia that following this person or that person or this religious organization or that religious organization is the same thing as following God.
Not only is this completely untrue, but it is also spiritually dangerous because this premise leads to idolatry.
Anything or anyone that we exalt above God and Jesus Christ and the Word of God as the sole authority in our lives is an idol.
Much of the book of Isaiah deals God’s reaction to the rampant idolatry of Israel and Judah, and, by extension, God’s reaction to the rampant idolatry within the ekklesia.
It is incredibly sobering and should, when we apply it to ourselves as individuals, bring us to our knees before Him in mourning and repentance, because we – you and I – have all gone astray spiritually and are continuing to struggle (I hope, because struggling is part of the active response of yielding to God, to Christ, to the very power of God through His spirit and His word that is required of each of us every day, all day and night, for the duration of this physical chapter of our lives) with areas of unfaithfulness to God.
No human – dead or alive and including yourself and myself – is perfect, righteous, without sin, and able to save us.
No physical, man-made religious organization is perfect, righteous, without sin, and able to save us.
In other words, there is nothing created that, if we cling to it, trust in it, believe in it, and have faith in it, is like God, in the place of God, and will lead us to salvation.
Nothing in the physical creation – the sun, the moon, and the stars (around which much of the calendar issues [from God’s word, we see Noah, who had none of these physical signs to guide him, yet who was totally faithful and obedient to God, and we are told, by Christ Himself, as one of the signs of His return that the sun, moon, and stars will be completely darkened and will be totally invisible to the human eye], which even those who practice a form of adherence to this one or that one cannot even agree on and they create a lot of confusion as a result, rests – this, quite frankly, has the danger of becoming an idol to some within the body, because it could lead to worshiping the host of heaven, which God expressly forbids in Deuteronomy), the earth, or any of the works in it – is perfect, is righteous, is without sin, and is able to save us.
That is the sole work and purpose of Jesus Christ – the Head of the body of believers, our Savior, our High Priest, our Counselor, our Wisdom, our Shepherd, our Teacher, the Author and Finisher of our faith, our Lord, our King, our Advocate, our Intercessor, and our Redemption who draws near – and anything or anyone else that we substitute for Him is a false god.
We in the ekklesia are strongly enjoined continually to follow these false gods and it is a temptation leading to sin against our Father and our Older Brother that we must constantly and diligently resist and say “No!” to, even though it will bring persecution and reviling against us from every corner where it lurks.
There are many examples from God’s word that show us that following the physical creation – in this case, humans – is not the same as following God.
The commitment for obedience, belief, and trust is conditional, situational, and lasts only as long as the physical creation exists. The commitment these individuals had was not to God and not forever, but instead to temporary human beings like themselves.
It was not a bond with God that included all their hearts, all their souls, all their minds, and all their might. Instead, the bond was – although these people probably believed it was with God – with humans and the bond was severed when those people died.
Our bond, our commitment, our faith and our trust in God, Jesus Christ, and God’s word can never be based on what anyone else does or says nor on what we have decided anything in the physical creation dictates or instructs us to do.
If that is the foundation of our belief, it is a foundation of sand, and we have built our spiritual houses on the wrong Foundation. It’s that simple.
To highlight this, we can see four examples from God’s word of how following the physical creation is not the same as following God.
The first example is found both in the books of Joshua and Judges and describes Israel in their early days in the promised land:
Joshua 21:31 – “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”
Judges 2:7-10 – “So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
Another example is that of Joash in II Chronicles 24:
II Chronicles 24:2 – “Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”
II Chronicles 24:17-18 – “Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass.”
A third example is that of Amaziah in II Chronicles 25:
II Chronicles 25:2 – “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.”
II Chronicles 25:14 – “Now it was so, after Amaziah came from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the people of Seir, set them up to be his gods, and bowed down before them and burned incense to them.”
A final example is that of Uzziah in II Chronicles 26:
II Chronicles 26:4-5 – “And he [Uzziah] did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”
II Chronicles 26:16 – “But when he [Uzziah] was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.”
I strongly urge each of us to read and think about these in context (before and after) in God’s word to glean the fullness of what God is warning us about and to respond by asking ourselves whether we have done and are doing the same thing.
This is part of the hardest work God has called us to do. It’s easy to see where everybody else is wrong, going astray, screwed up, and disobedient – we think it is anyway, but only God knows the heart and each us more intimately than we know ourselves and we all very competent and capable in self-deception.
But looking at ourselves is hard. It requires gut-wrenching (literally) honesty with ourselves and God. It’s often extremely painful. It’s always humbling.
But the good it does us, which is always God’s will and purpose in our lives, and the changes, with God’s help, that it sets in motion toward God’s path of righteousness and His very character are priceless and worth anything we have to go through on an individual basis to participle in this process of converting that God has initiated in us and which is being completed by Jesus Christ if we are willing and cooperating with that most important work that can be done in anyone’s life.
The choice ultimately is ours. Like the four examples given, we have the choice of who and what we will commit to, yield to, surrender to, and strive to obey.
We have the choice to be wholehearted, halfhearted, or nohearted about it. We have the choice of who and what we will believe, truth, and have faith in.
The biggest obstacle that lies before each of us in what we choose is ourselves. Too often, we place too much faith, belief, and trust in our individual will, reasoning, ideas, understanding, and wisdom until we reach a point where we subordinate God’s word, God’s will, and God’s authority to our own.
Many times, we don’t even realize that’s what we’ve done or we are doing, but it happens to us all from time to time.
This is not an, in technology terms, an unrecoverable or fatal error. God is willing to correct us – much more gently and mercifully than we often are in wanting to correct others whom we believe are wrong – and to forgive us, leading us into a deeper commitment to and relationship with Him and Jesus Christ.
But the responsibility and the response of whether we are willing, no matter what the personal cost (and how much we have to admit that we are wrong about), to yield completely and eternally to our Father in heaven, in full and unshakable commitment, allegiance, and obedience lies with you and me alone.
What will our answer be to God?