And it was because of their refusal to separate themselves from the gods of the society around them.Source. (Emphasis mine)
You may recall Moses telling Israel, “The gods that you refuse to drive out of the land are going to be a snare to you. They’ll be thorns in your sides. They’re going to rob you of the true heritage God desires to give you, because you refuse to separate yourselves from them. And those same idols you refuse to give up will eventually swallow you.”
That’s exactly where we find the people of God years down the road, in 1 Kings 18. The Israelites were captivated by the false god Baal. Now, Baal was the god of personal increase and prosperity. And the people were captivated by their desire for personal increase. Baal worship allowed them to build for themselves, to prop themselves up, to make themselves prosper.
Baal worship also included practices of immoral sensuality. It allowed people to indulge their flesh and yet still have a sense of being in the presence of God.
“How long will you halt?” Elijah asked them. The word in Hebrew for halt here means to hop, to skip over, to spare, or to dance as a lame man. Elijah is saying to the church of his time, “How long will you continue to skip over the truth? How long will you continue to spare yourself any deep dealings and callings of God? How long will you continue to worship as a lame man, when you could behold the Lord? Why do you halt between two opinions? Why do you stop at this place halfway between heaven and hell? Why can’t you make up your mind where you’re going to live, which side you’re going to commit yourself to?”
Elijah was issuing a strong challenge. Yet, Scripture says, “the people answered him not a word.”
God’s question is always the same: “Will you come back to me? Will you come to that place of remembrance?” In Elijah’s case, the people answered not a word. There was no response at all. Perhaps they were hoping that the conviction would just go away. After all, they knew in their hearts that Baal was not God. That’s why they could neither yield fully to the idol nor answer Elijah’s question.
“But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone” (Jeremiah 5:23).
The word for gone in Hebrew means they’ve already left in their heart. Now, the people are standing there listening to Jeremiah. But the Lord is whispering to the prophet, “They’re already gone from me, Jeremiah. They may be looking straight at you as you preach to them, but they’re gone.”
That is a tragedy, because this same scene has repeated itself throughout history. There are many people today who call themselves by the name of Christ but who are gone. They left Jesus long ago in their hearts, and now they know little or nothing about him. They know that what they’re pursuing isn’t God. Yet, in their hearts, they’ve left the one they know is real.
A divided heart will take from you your desire for God. It’s like a barrel full of oil with a hole drilled in the bottom. It takes a while for the oil to drain, but eventually it will all go. If your heart is divided, then all your desire for the Lord, as well as all your discernment, will go.
God’s Word is a two-edged sword, a very sharp one, and it cuts very deep. Those who truly love God know that his Word comes to us as a surgeon’s knife. It removes the cancerous nature from us and replaces it with God’s own nature. This type of change doesn’t happen merely because we come to an altar. It happens because we agree with what God’s Word says, and we trust Him for the power to change.
The apostle Paul tells us we are to present our lives as a living sacrifice. Once we get back to the cross that is, we yield our lives to the purposes of God we can say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ.” That means our will, our plans, our ambitions, all are crucified. “Nevertheless I live, and yet not I but Christ lives in me.”
Paul goes on to say, “I live this life by faith in what Christ did for me.” In other words, “This is the source of my life: I have come to Christ.” God has taken Paul and put his life on the cross, and now Paul is dead. Yet Paul lives because he has faith in what was purchased for him on Calvary. And he trusts God to give him the life that he promised him.
There comes a time when we all have to lay down our lives for the purposes of God. Being a Christian isn’t just a Sunday School picnic. It’s not an invitation to have continuous good times. It’s a war for the souls of men.