While flashing a cognizant look my way, my pastor often says, “Well, we never have to wonder what the topic of Donna’s sermon will be when she gets up to preach!We KNOW it’s going to be about holiness.”He was right.It did not matter what scripture or book of the bible I would speak on, I always ended up emphasizing holiness and then warning against apathy and deception.Repeatedly I would assert that the basic principle and very core of our being needs to be that we walk, talk, think, live, breathe and dream ‘Jesus’.I relentlessly expound on the premise that Christianity is not something that we ‘put on’ every Sunday morning and maybe even embrace during the midweek bible study, only to turn around, leave the building and go live our lives in complete disregard to the instructions of God, totally oblivious to the original plan and design and intent of God.Even though nobody has ever walked out during one of my ‘hell, fire and brimstone’ sermons, I was determined to speak about ANYTHING other than holiness this past Sunday.I was intentionally going to be refreshing, upbeat and preach a very non-confrontational gospel.
God, though, had a totally different sermon in mind because the entire time I was attempting to be uplifting and charming I was experiencing a profound agony in my spirit.We use phrases like, ‘agony in my spirit’ and think we understand what they mean.You cannot imagine ‘agony of spirit’ unless you have experienced it any more than you could imagine a toothache if you have never had one.
Finally, I realized that I must be on the wrong track and said, “All right Lord, what do YOU want to say to YOUR flock?”Before I even finished asking the question, I was up and running for my keyboard.The sermon gushed out of me as if a dam had burst.God lead me to Judges chapter 17 and began showing me the gravity of the lessons portrayedthrough that story.The heading above the chapter states, “This section shows Israel falling into idolatry and moral decline.”It is a story about a man by the name of Micah who must have thought that he was very religious because he readily admitted to stealing his mother’s money and then thought he did a noble deed by returning it to her.His mother also seemed to be very religious because her Christian-sounding response was, “Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son!”The very grievous problem with all this so far is that we have a man professing to serve God, yet he steals. Then we have a woman who speaks the Christian lingo but takes the money which was returned to her and has an idol carved to celebrate her good fortune and to add to her collection. She probably thought she was maintaining quite a religious influence in her home in this way but she was completely and totally disobedient to God because He specifically forbids making idols.She could certainly talk the talk, but was not walking the walk.
In Micah’s day everyone did whatever they wanted.They did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.It was remarkably similar to the attitude today.Nothing seems to have changed in 3,000 years.
Micah had his own little religious system set up for his own personal benefit with all the idols he possessed.Having a teraphim in particular was guaranteed to bring the greatest portion of the family’s inheritance to the heir that was in possession of it.He desired a little chapel so he built himself a shrine.He then wanted to have his own priest and a little devotion each day.Then, just at the right time, along came a Levite (priest) looking for a place to live.Micah offered to hire him as his personal priest and the Levite accepted his offer, showing no hint of having any problem with this entire arrangement.Micah then declared,“Now I know that God will REALLY bless me!”
That statement shows the depth of deception and blindness that had overtaken him.Here we have three totally deceived people performing what the Lord calls ‘dead works’.They did NOT know God!If they did, they would have burned those idols and eliminated anything else from their life that was displeasing, dishonoring or offensive to God.
There is no such thing as a ‘carnal Christian’.People are either directed by the culture or they are living in obedience to God. You are not a radical Christian just because you wear a tee-shirt that says, “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet” or one that says, “I’m a diamond in the rough.”No, you need to become a new creature!The operative words need to be ‘repent’, ‘get rid of your idols,’ ‘stop sinning against God!’ You cannot talk like the world.You cannot act like the world.You cannot dress seductively.You cannot partake at the table of the Lord and the table of devils.It is either, or.
Just believing that Jesus was born of a virgin, died on a cross for the sins of the world and rose again from the dead is not what constitutes a Christian because the devil believes those very same things also and is destined for damnation.
I believe that George Bush is the President of the United States of America.I can also recite the Pledge of Allegiance.That does not make me an American and when I show up at the White House they are NOT going to let me in.
Believing in Jesus and reciting a prayer at an altar is not an indication that you are a Christian.Living in obedience to Christ and becoming more and more like Him each day demonstrates that you have become a ‘new creature’ and that you are dead to your old self and your old life. Weeping for the sins that you’ve committed against a Holy God and then destroying the idols in your life shows that you have been crucified with Christ.
The apostle Paul said that he lived and moved and had his being in Christ.Paul was joined with Him and was one spirit with Him.He walked in righteousness, serving the Living God.Micah, on the other hand, walked in self-centeredness, fulfilling the lusts of his flesh.If you are living according to your own self-serving religious belief system you will not just lose a reward, you will lose God