Cheating on God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, June 23, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

There are certain television commercials that will always be remembered. You probably have your favorite that comes to mind right now. For me, I’ll never forget one that came out right around the Super Bowl way back in 1996. It was an ad for Pepsi and you can find it here. A man who is obviously employed by Coca-Cola goes into a store to fill the fridge with the product. There is a hidden camera on him the entire time and Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin Heart” is playing in the background of the commercial. While doing his job, the Coca-Cola employee notices a fridge stocked full of Pepsi cans. Fearing he will be caught “cheating” on his current employer, he looks around several times to see if anyone can see him before choosing to grab a can of Pepsi from the fridge. As soon as he removes it, hundreds of other Pepsi cans come crashing out of the fridge and onto the floor. The avalanche causes shoppers in the store to come running to see what the commotion is all about. The man then places the Pepsi can back on the rack in the fridge in an effort to hide what was already out in the open - his infidelity toward Coca-Cola.

As silly as it sounds that a person who works for Coca-Cola would be fraternizing with the product of its biggest rival while on duty, Christians are guilty of cheating that is a million times more egregious. Once we come to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord and understand the extent to which He went to proclaim His love for us, we willfully enter into a relationship with Him. The New Testament identifies the church as “the bride” of Christ in multiple places, Ephesians 5:25-27 and Revelation 19:7 just to name a couple. Yet, we still seem to always have our eyes on whatever other “partners” are flaunting themselves in front of us. We cheat on the Lord with money, sex, popularity, fun, food, alcohol, and many other things. These things tempt us and tell us we can have a better life with them. We often fall for the deception even when we know that nothing and no one ever has or ever will love us like God does.

This problem that all believers have is why James had to use strong language when addressing it in James 4:4-5. He addresses the believers in the early church to whom he is writing by saying, “You adulterous people." This moniker may seem shocking to us and it is certainly intended to get the attention of not only those to whom James wrote, but also those who read it. That being said, most of the believers in the early church, which was comprised of mainly Jews, would’ve understood the reference fully. They were certainly familiar with Old Testament passages that identified the nation of Israel as an adulteress. In Jeremiah 3:6-9, the Lord speaks to the prophet and mentions the adultery of Israel and Judah (they were still split into two kingdoms at that point) three different times, also declaring that they “had no fear” of the Lord and that “immorality mattered so little to her." The nation of God’s chosen people committed this adultery by worshiping “stone and wood."

The prophet Hosea was probably most known for exposing Israel’s adultery. He recorded in Hosea 3:1, “The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’" Now, I have no clue what the “sacred raisin cakes” are and that was always a source of laughter for my friends and I in high school youth group when we would read that passage. We’d wonder what was wrong with those dopes. How could they cheat on God with SACRED RAISIN CAKES of all things? But, for those who truly love the Lord with all their heart, our spiritual adultery is probably just as deserving of ridicule. They’d look at us and wonder how we could exchange our relationship with God for the pursuit of the almighty dollar, or for ideas that are popular but don’t align with His Word.

Hosea would’ve been considered a fool by many for continuing to love his wife who cheated on him over and over again. The kind of love that is foolish in the world’s eyes is exactly what God offers us over and over despite our adulteries. In fact, our continued spiritual infidelity shows that we either don’t care or don’t understand how much it hurts God. We are so used to offending Him and still receiving His unconditional love that it’s almost like we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The early church had the same issue, so James called it out. He asks a rhetorical question to remind them that we cannot be friends with both God and the world. Yet again, James is echoing his older brother, Jesus, who said that “no one can serve two masters” and that we “cannot love both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). In James 4:4, the Greek word for friendship is philia, which comes from the same root word as one of the ancient Greek words for “love." So, what James is describing is not simply having friends that are worldly or enjoying some secular things. He’s talking about believers who long for that which is worldly and has nothing to do with eternal life. Just a bit earlier in his letter, he talked about the difference between wisdom that focuses solely on earthly and unspiritual things and that which comes from heaven (James 3:13-17). What we long for and value in life will be directly related to the type of wisdom we possess.

James adds that if we long for the things of this fallen world, the end result will be enmity between us and God. The word “enmity” is a strong word that can also be translated “hostility” or “hatred." In other words, it’s impossible to be neutral or indifferent towards God. That would be like trying to be neutral or indifferent towards your spouse, while occasionally pursuing other love interests. It doesn’t work for a marriage and cannot work in our relationship with the God who “jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us” (James 4:5). God is not a big fan of being spurned or having His unconditional love rejected by those who have claimed to know and love Him back.

Friends, you’ll never find anything more satisfying in life than entering into a relationship with the living God who created the entire universe but decided He wanted one of YOU here so that He could lavish His love on you (1 John 3:1). God is certainly more like a gentleman and will not force you to love Him back, but He doesn’t hide His longing for you or His intense pain when you reject Him in favor of something that He knows cannot fulfill you. I urge you to take a look at your life and be honest with yourself about the ways you have been cheating on God. He will let you come back to Him and will not hold your past sins against you if you’re truly repentant. But, there will come a day when you no longer have the opportunity to repent because your time has run out. For that reason, it makes sense to turn back to Him now, before the consequences of your infidelity catch up to you.

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