Sin 20: Sanctification

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 29, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Christian life is a life that is always in process – a process that works a sinful heart of stone and into a heart of flesh. We call this process sanctification. This only happens with someone who has already been born again. This does not happen with someone who just says a prayer or someone who makes a profession of faith, but someone in whom the seed of rebirth has been planted, watered, and now has sprouted and grown.

Sanctification is the process of removing sin from one’s life. It is often an unpleasant experience as we go through it. It’s often painful, and we wonder why God puts us through this. But we scrub pots and floors and walls and laundry all the time to get the dirt and grime off them. What if that pot, that floor, that wall, that piece of clothing had feelings? Would they not feel pain too? But the pain would be worth it because the grime would be gone. The same is true for us. Every believer who has been through this sanctification process does not like going through it but always finds it worthwhile once it is done.

The Bible uses two main images to describe how sanctification works: a launderer’s soap and a refiner’s fire. The first image is what I just used above. A launderer’s soap is a scouring soap. It is mean to really dig into the dirt and grime to break up its bonds with the substance to water can wash it off. Let me emphasize this point more. The grease and grime that the fuller’s soap needs to cleanse is chemically bonded to the surface. It’s not like mere dirt or mud that a hose can simply wash off. You need the soap to break the chemical bonds.

The same is true for sin. It’s not just a “fall in the mud and get dirty” issue. It is bonded to you so strongly that the only way to get it off is through breaking those bonds. The only thing potent enough to break the bond of sin is the blood of Jesus Christ. Now, don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that once we are born again then we are freed from sin. There is more to the image. The soap doesn’t just wash it off on its own. It requires scrubbing. When dealing with grime, you spray the cleaner on the area needing to be cleaned, let it sit for a while so the chemical reaction can do its thing, and then you have to scrub it and the scrubbing takes work. Likewise, God applies the blood of Jesus to our areas of life infected with sin and then He has to scrub us to get the sin out. How does He scrub us? With trials, tribulations, persecutions, difficulties, etc. People ask why God is so “cruel” to His own people; He is actually scrubbing them clean of their sin.

The other image used to describe sanctification is a refiner’s fire. There are two versions of this. In the first version, the goldsmith will take his raw material, place in in his pot or whatever he is using, and turn up the heat. The heat will melt the gold and leave the impurities on the top, because gold is one of the heaviest natural materials. The goldsmith scrapes off the impurities and then turns up the heat again. More impurities come up and are scraped off. Then more heat, and more heat, until all that is left is pure, unadulterated gold. The other version is the same idea only with silver. The silversmith does the same thing and knows when it is finished because he can see a reflection of his face in the pool of silver. I’ll dwell on this point next week in more detail.

I need to make this clear: sanctification is a process that will go on for the entirety of our earthly lives. As long as we live in this physical body that is tainted and corrupted by sin, we will always deal with our sinful nature and tendencies. Until that is finally dealt with, we will be warring against our sin. At the resurrection of our physical bodies, we will celebrate our final victory over sin.

I also need to make it clear that this is something we cannot do on our own. We can never overcome our own sin by our own efforts. This can only be done by the Holy Spirit’s work in us, though we still have a responsibility to submit to the process. Fighting the process is only going to produce more pain for us and make our lives even harder. The prayer of David was for God to wash him and cleanse him. David knew his sinful tendencies and his sinful nature and longed to be freed from that sin. It was attached to him, and he could not get rid of it. He needed help. He needed a Savior.

There are two equal and opposite heresies to the sanctification process. One is legalism and the other is antinomianism. In legalism, sanctification becomes about being morally perfect for the sake of being morally perfect. It is doing the law to make yourself clean and going through the rituals to get it all done yourself. Let me make this crystal clear: proclaiming God’s perfect standard as the ideal is NOT legalism. Proclaiming the goal and telling people they are wrong is not legalism. David Wilkerson said that the church is at the height of apostasy when we call “obedience” as legalism, and he’s right. The sanctification process is not legalism. But true legalism, the practice of doing good works to please God, is not sanctification either.

The other heresy is antinomianism, which basically makes everything a free-for-all, and we can do what we want and how we want to do it. We can believe the doctrines we like, and we can follow which teachers we want. Because we are all under the grace of God, we should all get along. That’s turning the grace of God into lawlessness. And I will argue that the ones who cry “legalism” the most are likely in this camp.

Sanctification is directly opposed to antinomianism, but it is also not legalism. It is the process of being rid of sin and being cleansed of sin. Salvation initially removes the penalty of sin from our record, then sanctification takes us through the process of being delivered from the power of sin. And then our final glorification will remove us from the very presence of sin. But there is more to what is happening in the sanctification process. It is not just deliverance from something (sin) but deliverance to something (Christ). That’s for next week.

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Baasha, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 25, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If you’ve been following along in my series on the kings of Israel and Judah, we’ve already discussed Baasha a couple of times as he’s shown up in the stories of two other kings. But today, we’ll still dig deeper into who Baasha was and why his reign is important.

First, Baasha showed up in the life of King Asa of Judah. Asa and Baasha went to war, and Baasha tried to take control of Judah by cutting off trade routes and communication between Judah and Israel (1 Kings 15:16-17). Asa did end up defeating Baasha and taking back the city of Ramah in Judah.

Baasha also shows up in the life of King Nadab of Israel. In fact, Baasha was the one who plotted against King Nadab so that Baasha could take the throne for himself. Baasha became king through a successful assassination (1 Kings 15:27-28).

Baasha reigned as king of Israel for 24 years. Asa was the king of Judah during Baasha’s entire reign (and longer). As with many of the kings of Israel, Baasha’s reign can be summarized as in 1 Kings 15:34: “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.” Unfortunately, the ways of Jeroboam (the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel) are continued by many of the kings who came after him. It doesn’t help that Baasha began his reign in disobedience to God by killing Nadab.

God sent the prophet Jehu to Baasha to reprimand him: “I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country” (1 Kings 16:2-4).

We don’t know at what point in Baasha’s reign Jehu delivered this message, but clearly, Baasha showed no intention of changing his ways on his own. Recall that God wiped out Jeroboam’s line of successors on the throne, and now God is proclaiming the same fate for Baasha. Not only would God wipe out him and his house, but dogs and birds would eat them! This shows the amount of anger that God clearly felt toward Baasha’s continuing the idolatry of the kings before him.

Interestingly, it appears that he died of natural causes. 1 Kings 16:6 tells us that “Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah.”

Many Hebrew names have interesting meanings associated with them, and Baasha’s name is no exception. It could mean wicked, evil, or displeasure. Or it could mean boldness, offensive, the one who lays waste, to compress, or to cause confusion. Baasha definitely seemed to live up to the wicked and evil meanings of his name, based on the prophecy that God gave concerning him and his house!

Unfortunately, not much is known about Baasha. The two items reported about him in the Biblical text are the war with King Asa of Judah and the prophecy quoted above. The section on Baasha is summarized in 1 Kings 16:7: “Moreover, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.”

What can we learn from the life of Baasha, even if we don’t know much about him? God is a God of second chances, but not necessarily infinite chances. God gave Baasha an opportunity to repent from his evil ways and to lead the nation in following God instead of pursuing idolatry. Had Baasha listened to Jehu and worked to change his ways, things would have likely turned out differently for him and his family. However, at least based on the Biblical accounts we have, Baasha only got that one prophetic warning before God decided that he and his house would be destroyed.

When God gives us a second chance in life, we need to recognize it and do everything in our power (and utilize the power of the Holy Spirit) to change our ways to be more obedient to God. He does often give us multiple chances to repent and change, but those chances will not necessarily go on forever. Take a look at your life and discern where God may be asking you to change your ways that don’t honor Him, and then ask God to help you make the necessary changes in your life.

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Sin 19: Repentance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 22, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Dealing with sin requires multiple steps, and the order is not always the same, though it all goes together holistically. Last week, I wrote about clothing and the covering of sin, but covering should only taken place when repentance is clearly demonstrated or in process. This week’s post is about repentance, a word that has nearly gone taboo in modern American Christendom. If a preacher actually calls for repentance from the pulpit, one of two things are going to happen: the church will drive him out, or the church will dwindle to the few people that actually want to hear truth. It is extremely rare for a church to exceed a couple hundred people when a pastor actually teaches Biblical repentance from sin these days. We have a hard enough time getting them to teach on sin properly, let alone repentance. Today, we deal with repentance.

There is a huge debate in the church as to what repentance is. The main debate is whether repentance is a work or a fruit. I believe the answer is both. Repentance is something we have to do. It is a command we are given, and it is the primary message Jesus gave during His ministry. However, it is not a “work” in the sense that if we repent, then God will owe us salvation. It does not merit us salvation, but it is something we must do upon realizing the weight of our sin. Nineveh realized their sin had brought their doom upon them with Jonah’s preaching, and they repented. God spared them because He longs to save rather than give judgment.

Repentance is also a fruit. It comes out of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives when He transforms us from a sinful, defiant person into a righteous person through the process of sanctification. I will cover how all that works next week. When God works the process of changing our dreams, desires, interests and drives from serving self to serving God, repentance from serving self tends to fade on its own. That’s how repentance is a fruit of the work of God.

But there is a third aspect that is often missed. It is a gift, and I never noticed this until I wrote my apologetics series last year with a big emphasis on 2 Timothy 2:24-26. Repentance has to be granted. The servant of the Lord has to be kind and gentle, able to teach, and correcting every false way in gentleness and humility so that God can grant them repentance. And from there, they may know the truth, come to their senses, and be freed from the traps of the devil. Repentance has to be given by God because man in his sinful, rebellious state is never going to turn to God on his own. Remember, man will only come to the Father if the Father draws him. Man won’t do it out of our own desire because that desire is not there in the sinful person.

Repentance involves three things: change of mind, change of action, and change of will. Most people only understand it as a change of action. We were going one direction, we turn around, and we go another direction. That is the elementary level of repentance we are most familiar with. But it is much more of that. It is a change of mind on the issue; we change how we view and understand things. Instead of how the natural man understands things, we now start to see things from the spiritual side and by how God sees it. We will never be on His level, but in the level we can, we start seeing things God’s way instead of by man’s ways. And this is a big thing – the will. We intentionally choose to cease the old lifestyle and choose to go God’s ways. Again, we will not make this choice on our own but only through the drawing of the Holy Spirit.

But there are people who profess the name of Christ and have not repented. To repent means you need to abandon the old view entirely and move on to the new view. While this happens in stages and usually not instantaneously, there has to be a process that is clearly seen. But instead, people merely add Jesus to their lives as an accessory or as an add-on when they are forced to admit that God is indeed real. And the majority in Christendom does this because that is the only “gospel” they have ever heard based on “modern evangelism.” It goes like this: “Come to Jesus who can give you love, joy, peace, happiness and complete your life.” Or it goes like: “You are so special in God’s eyes. He has a wonderful plan for your life and wants to give you your dreams and desires. Give your life to Christ and He’ll give you what you have been looking for.” That’s not merely Word of Faith people; that is the EXTREME majority of church evangelism today regardless of what kind of denomination or group they are part of. If you look at most Gospel presentations today, so little time is spent on actually addressing sin. Sometimes it is mentioned, but mostly glossed over to “get to the good news.” But that’s not how good news works. You need to make sure the bad news is well understood and grips the person so that when the good news is given, you need little time and they want it. So what does this false evangelism and false repentance look like?

Hugh Ross is a “Progressive Creation” teacher who used to be an atheist, and then he realized God existed and became a “Christian.” However, in all I have heard, while he can proclaim the general Gospel message, I have yet to see or read anything coming out of his mouth that indicates genuine repentance. He never left the atheistic ideas he believed prior to becoming a Christian. He still believes in the Big Bang theory, just as he did as an atheist. He still believes the earth is millions of years old, just as he did as an atheist. He apparently rejects Darwinian Evolution of gradual changes but still embraces a doctored form of punctuated equilibrium, which is still Evolution. He teaches that God created the creatures in distinct sets, modifying and changing them with each set. That’s still Evolution. He didn’t repent; he just added “God” to his already established models. That is extremely dangerous. Then, instead of submitting to Scripture, he twists Scripture and reinterprets it to make it fit his models. That is not repentance, and it is evidence he may not actually be saved but just found religion.

Todd White is another one. He is a “pastor” and street evangelist that is extremely known for “faith healing” namely with a “leg lengthening” parlor magic trick that has been easily refuted and exposed as just being a trick. A couple years ago, he preached a very strange sermon for him in which he discovered Spurgeon and Ray Comfort and realized that for 16 years he had been preaching the Gospel wrong. Those were his words. He admitted publicly that he had been doing it wrong this whole time and that he repents of that. Keep in mind, he has said that for the whole time he has been a Christian he has never sinned and boasts how he lives with him as evidence. The next week, he doubled down on everything he had been doing and preached the most self-centered and narcissistic message I have ever heard. He never truly repented. Instead, if he has changed anything at all, he has merely added “the law” to his message and just tweaked what he did instead of actually leaving the old way behind and putting on the new way. That is not repentance.

The extreme danger of supporting an unrepentant person is showcased in the account of Absalom. David’s third son murdered his own brother as revenge for the rape of his sister. David brought him back, but Absalom never repented of his issues, and for a couple years, he plotted a coup that came within a few inches of succeeding. We have to be careful about who we let have places of influence in our lives. Some of them may be genuinely saved, and they still have the old system still dominating. That may be evidence of a novice, not someone qualified for leadership. But it also may be evidence they never got saved to begin with. One of the clearest marks of a born-again believer is a lifestyle of repentance and a push and desire to abandon and leave the old worldly, sinful lifestyles and embrace the new one with Christ. If this is not evident in a person’s life, then we have good reason to question if they were saved. It may not happen all at once, but there should be direction and that is called sanctification, which is next week’s topic.

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Nadab, King of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 18, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After looking at two kings of the southern kingdom of Judah for the last few weeks, this week we turn our attention back to the northern kingdom of Israel. While Jeroboam was king of Israel, Judah had Rehoboam, Abijah, and Asa as kings. In the second year of Asa’s reign in Judah, Jeroboam died and his son Nadab took over as king of Israel.

Nadab had a very short reign of just two years. That may seem insignificant in the history of Israel, but every king is important and contributes something to the nation as a whole, so today we’ll look at what Nadab did during his short time as king. You can read the entire account of Nadab in 1 Kings 15:25-31.

Unfortunately, we see in verse 26 that, “He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.” It is likely for this reason that Nadab’s reign was not long and did not go well for him.

In the second year of his reign, Nadab attempted to capture the Philistine city of Gibbethon. But, during that battle, Nadab was assassinated. Baasha, the son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar, had been plotting against Nadab with the motive of becoming king himself. Note that Baasha’s father Ahijah was a different person (with the same name) as the prophet who had advised Nadab’s father Jeroboam. Once Baasha killed Nadab, he seized the throne for himself (1 Kings 15:27-28).

After Baasha took over, he killed the rest of Jeroboam’s family, not leaving one person left alive. This happened to fulfill the prophecy given to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah back in 1 Kings 14:14: “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen.” The king who was spoken of in that prophecy was Baasha, who used Nadab to begin the killing spree that was foretold to Jeroboam.

We see how this all happened and why in 1 Kings 15:29-30: “As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.”

This raises the question of whether people are punished for the sins of others. Was Nadab only allowed to reign for 2 years and then killed because of the sins of his father Jeroboam? Yes and no. God did prophesy that He would cut off Jeroboam’s entire family due to Jeroboam’s sins, and Nadab was part of that family. But the Scriptures record for us that Nadab also committed evil and did not follow God, which deserves to be punished as well.

But what about the rest of Jeroboam’s family members – other children, wives, etc.? Were they sentenced to death because of Jeroboam’s sins? Again, the answer is likely yes and no. As with Nadab, they were likely committing the same sins as Jeroboam and Nadab in turning against God and worshiping idols.

Worshiping any God except the one true God is clearly a violation of God’s first commandment to the nation of Israel. Exodus 20:1-6 in the Ten Commandments says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The last part of that references punishing children for the sins of their parents. God had clearly warned Israel that one of the effects of idolatry would be the children suffering for the sins of their parents. Was this God being unjust and punishing people for sins they did not commit themselves? Not necessarily. Generally speaking, if the parents are committing idolatry, the children will follow that practice as well, thus becoming deserving of the punishment that God gives them for that sin. It can often take many generations to break that sin until something happens to break them out of it, often God intervening in some great way to change the hearts of the leader and then the people follow.

Nadab’s short reign was significant in that it fulfilled God’s prophecy to cut off the line of Jeroboam as a punishment for the many ways he continuously disobeyed God. Jeroboam was clearly not repentant of these sins, and neither was Nadab, so God followed through on that prophecy. If Jeroboam or Nadab had realized their sin and repented of it, then things likely would have turned out differently for them and for their nation. But so goes the leader, so goes the fate of the nation.

What can we learn from Nadab that will help our Christian faith today? The primary lesson is to not only follow God ourselves but to be wise in what our families and those close to us are doing. If a family member is intentionally going down a path that leads away from God, we need to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how to deal with that family member. Perhaps they need us to speak God’s truth in love to them to bring them back to the right path. Or perhaps we need to steer clear of them so we do not get drawn into their sin and suffer the consequences of it. There is no one “right answer” for every situation, as each person and situation have nuanced details to them. We need to trust that God is sovereign and to follow His leading through the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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Sin 18: Clothing

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 15, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The very first post I wrote for Worldview Warriors way back in January 2014 was titled The Doctrine of Clothing. This is a perfect time to revisit that issue. To recap where this series has been recently, first we have to have a proper understanding of what sin truly is. Sin exposes us as naked and ashamed and our response to that should be brokenness. Once we are broken before God, we recognize that we are dust and will return to dust and with that we must confess our sin as sin before God. When we confess our sin before God with a broken and contrite heart, God in His great mercy and grace will cover our sin. The very reason why mankind, and mankind alone, wears any kind of clothing is because of the issue of sin. It, by itself, is a picture of the Gospel.

Clothing is literally a covering for the most intimate parts of our bodies. When exposed, it is akin to us showing what we really are and who we really are. When we are naked, we expose our true selves, and nothing is hidden. Yet, before the omniscient and omnipresent eyes of God, we are always naked before Him. There is nothing hidden from His sight, not even our thoughts. If parents and teachers can read what kids are thinking before they do it, how much more so can God Himself?

We should be grieved even more as we examine our sin against God, knowing He is such a good and merciful God, because it’s not merely spitting in His face for being God, but spitting in the face of His gift of mercy. That is why we must be broken before God and confess our sin to Him with a broken and contrite heart, grieving over the fact that we have violated and profaned our Maker. Yet, God still loves us and still offers us hope. He covers our sin.

But not just any covering will do. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people try to cover their sin, but they make it so blatantly obvious that they did something wrong. I’m the same. It takes lots of practice with a poker face to put on a straight face when we sin. When that happens, it only shows how determined someone is to sear their own conscience and shut out the voice of the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin. Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves the moment they realized they were naked by sewing fig leaves together. They were naked the whole time, but they had no fear of God before. Now, they were ashamed of their nakedness and afraid of God. They tried to hide it. How foolish! I know it’s easy to look back and see it, but we are no different. We’d do the same thing.

The only covering that works is God’s covering. He clothed Adam and Eve with skins of an animal. This is significant because this is the first picture of the Gospel. The penalty of sin is death, and in order for any mercy to be granted, SOMEONE has to die in man’s place. And not just any person – someone who does not have the same sin debt. Adam, prior to eating of the fruit, could have (and should have) died in Eve’s place by standing before God and protecting her, saying, “Take me instead.” But he didn’t; he engaged in eating of the fruit too, and therefore he needed coverage of his own. So, God did what was in His plan all along: He provided the substitution. It was initially an innocent animal that did no wrong, however this would never be enough as an animal, not being a man, could not actually substitute in for man. Only the God man, Jesus Christ, could do that job.

So far this is just the Gospel aspect of clothing and covering. There is a practical side of it, too. As Jesus covers our sins with His blood, when in the context of other believers, we should cover each other’s sins, too. There is a way to do this and a way not to do this. There is absolutely a place for grace and not exposing one’s “dirty laundry” out in public. However, this is NOT allowance for sweeping things under the rug. The Southern Baptist Convention has been in hot water recently because it is now coming out that they were having a very similar scandal as was exposed in the Roman Catholic Church 20 years ago: a cover up of the sexual abuse by pastors and church leaders. The Boy Scouts have been implicated in a similar scandal. It is disturbing that organizations like this would repeatedly sweep things like this under the rug to avoid the shame of it happening and then use “grace” as an excuse for not dealing with it. That is NOT what covering of sin looks like.

Covering of sin will deal with sin in-house, except when there is a legal obligation to report to the government. And frankly, sexual abuse is something that has to be reported. When there is covering of sin, it is not just hiding it or putting it away. It means dealing with it without public humiliation. If a church leader is struggling with pornography or something like that, it is fine for a church to keep that private, but they also need to put that leader into church discipline protocols and deal with and confront the issue. Growing up, when I did things that were wrong and they were in-house, it was dealt with in house; but it was dealt with.

God wants to grant mercy and He offers grace, but it is never without discipline and correction. And that is the next aspect of the proper response to sin: repentance. The covering of sin should be partnered with a broken, contrite, and repentant heart. In the discipline structure Jesus gave, start one-on-one, then bring in one or two witnesses, then bring in the church before a public rebuke. In each of these cases, the ideal is to keep it as much in-house as possible with the goal of restoration, but in none of these cases is there ever to be a mere sweeping it under the rug to ignore it. To cover sin requires confronting it and dealing with it while maintaining that person’s dignity. Part of that process requires repentance.

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Asa, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 11, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

While Jeroboam was still king of Israel, the nation of Judah crowned its third king – Rehoboam, then his son Abijah, then his son Asa. The crown continued to be handed down along family lines.

Asa was king of Judah for 41 years, and he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father David had done” (1 Kings 15:11). David was actually his great-great-grandfather, but David’s Godly influence can be clearly seen in Asa’s reign. We read in 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 that “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him.”

A few years later, after God granted him a victory in a battle with the Cushites (2 Chronicles 14:12-15), he instituted a second reform, which you can read about in 2 Chronicles 15. This reform came about because of that victory and also through a prophet known as Azariah son of Oded, who we know nothing about outside of this passage. During this reform, Asa brought the people of Judah back to focusing on God. “They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul” (2 Chronicles 15:12). This happened in the 15th year of Asa’s reign.

But, as time passed, the people fell into idolatry yet again. By the 35th year of his reign (20 years later), we see that “He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated” (1 Kings 15:12-15).

The first time, Asa removed everything that had to do with idol worship, including the high places. The second time, however, Asa left the high places intact. The high places were where there were idols from the Canaanite inhabitants when Israel first entered the promised land. Israel was commanded to destroy all of them in Numbers 33:52. The one true God would not be worshiped in the same places as the Canaanite idols. After King Solomon built the temple, the nation was brought together to worship God in one place, not in the more remote high places.

The presence or lack of high places can be seen as an indicator of the spirituality of God’s people. If the people are worshiping at the high places, they are practicing idolatry and not worshiping God as He desires. If the high places are torn down, then they are focusing on God and only God. While some kings tore down the high places, often the kings that followed them would allow the high places to be rebuilt.

While Asa was king, Jeroboam died, and the northern kingdom of Israel crowned a new king – Nadab. Nadab was assassinated within 2 years, and then Baasha became king. Asa of Judah and Baasha of Israel went to war. Baasha quickly took the city of Ramah in Judah, which cut off trade routes and communications between Judah and Israel, putting Baasha in control (1 Kings 15:16-17).

So what did Asa do? Based on his previously-reported actions of getting rid of idolatry and following God, you would think he would turn to God and ask for deliverance. But instead, Asa took all of the riches that were left in God’s temple and in his own accounts and basically used them as a bribe to get the Arameans to join forces and help Judah defeat Israel. Ben-Hadad of the Arameans had a treaty with Israel, and Asa was hoping that the bribe would get him to break that treaty and instead turn against Israel and help Judah (1 Kings 15:18-19). Asa’s bribe worked, and Ben Hadad and the Arameans helped Judah, and they regained control of Ramah and the important trade routes.

This narrative is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 16:1-6, but that account goes on beyond the one in 1 Kings. The seer (basically a prophet) Hanani scolds Asa for not trusting in God for this battle but instead relying on the king of Aram. This angers Asa, and he got so mad that he threw Hanani in prison for this and also oppressed some of the people (2 Chronicles 16:7-10).

A few years later, Asa became ill with a disease in his feet. Instead of seeking healing from God, he only turned to his physicians, who failed him, and Asa died less than 2 years later (2 Chronicles 16:12-13).

Asa definitely had some ups and downs during the course of his reign, but overall, he was one of the best kings of Judah. He got rid of all idol worship, trusted God in battle, and helped the people turn to the one true God, but unfortunately, that didn’t last. Then he got rid of most idol worship and did not trust God in battle. As his reign progressed, he appears to trust God less and less.

Asa’s reign is like when a person first becomes a believer in Jesus Christ. They seem to be on fire for God at first, doing just what He calls them to do and with a passion for Him. But as time goes on, they become less on fire for their faith as they realize some of the struggles they face in life because of following Jesus. Perhaps they still keep up some of their spiritual disciplines, but they start to get lazy with them. Eventually, they lose those healthy spiritual habits and are following and trusting God less and less.

We can learn from Asa’s reign that we need to continue always trusting God fully, no matter what comes our way. When Asa began relying on human wisdom more than on God, things still went okay for him for a little while. But the more he trusted in himself rather than on God, the worse things turned out for him.

It is also important for us to learn to listen to those God sends us to help correct us when we stray. Earlier in his reign, Asa listened to Azariah and brought the people back to worshiping God. Later, rather than listening to Hanani’s rebuke, Asa got mad at him, and both he and the kingdom of Judah suffered negative consequences in his life because of that.

Trust God in all things, and listen to the people God sends to help correct you when you stray from fully trusting God. That’s easier said than done of course, but pray for the Holy Spirit to empower you with the wisdom and discernment to continue living out your faith!

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Sin 17: Confession

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 8, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Confession is a proclamation of what you believe, but it goes deeper than that. It is demonstrated by a lifestyle, and Biblically speaking, it is agreeing with and submitting to what God has said. When dealing with sin, there are two aspects to confession: 1) agreeing with God and proclaiming that sin is what God says it is, and 2) proclaiming and living in such a way that Jesus dealt with your sin on the cross. And as with everything else, for every statement God makes, Satan produces a counterfeit. As I continue my series on sin, I will examine the part of confession about how we properly deal with sin.

Over the last few weeks, I wrote about how sin will expose us as being naked before God which should make us ashamed that we have done wrong. The proper response to that shame is to be broken before God and break down in dust and ashes, knowing that we are made from the dust and to dust we shall return. Confession is all part of that.

There are two ways to approach the confession of sin; one is worldly, and the other is godly. One is simply, “I was wrong.” This is the typical type of apology we see someone make in front of a camera, be it a politician or a sports media figure or even a pastor. But this type of confession is only a confession of “I was caught, and I want to save face.” Look at King Saul when he came back with spoils from the Amalekites and was busted for not completely obliterating them. He did say he sinned, but only after he was told that his kingdom was now permanently lost. Immediately after he confessed his sin to Samuel, he pleaded with Samuel to pray with him publicly so he would not feel this shame in front of his audience. This is not the kind of confession that God accepts.

The other way to approach the confession of sin is how David confessed his sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah. He didn’t merely say, “I have sinned.” He said, “I have sinned against God.” In Psalm 51, David takes that even further to acknowledge that he sinned against God alone. Did David violate Bathsheba? Yes. Did he betray one of his closest friends, one of his mighty men? Yes. Did he murder one of his mighty men just to cover up his adultery? Yes. But why did any of that happen? Answer: because he despised the commandment of the Lord from the start. When Nathan confronted him and singled him out, David, a year after doing this dastardly deed, realized just how gross, evil, dark, and wicked he was in doing that. He was exposed in public. He broke down and bore his heart before God in great grief and weeping, knowing his greatest sin was against the One whose heart he desired the most. David committed an even greater sin than his sins against other people. He committed treason against his Master.

When we confess our sin before God, this is not merely an intellectual agreement with God on what sin is. That is absolutely necessary; however, Godly confession needs to be coupled with brokenness. David was appalled with “How could I have done this?” Yet the reality was this is what David had inside him all along. He had a moment of weakness, and his sin came out. David also realized this truth, which is why he declared he was born in iniquity. We must confess our sins before God, however there is a counterfeit gospel that has corrupted true confession.

A very popular one is “I was born that way.” Instead of being ashamed of your sin, you are proud of it. This is what the LGBTQ+ groups have done to the sins of sexual immorality. Instead of confessing their sin as being sin before God, they boast and flaunt it. But what is interesting is when I hear their testimonies, they actually say they struggled with it until they fully embraced it. They KNEW it was wrong. Then some evil false teacher, whether a counselor, a teacher, the media, a peer etc., told them that this was natural, and they should embrace it. They often say it was freeing for them. But they really didn’t get free; they just dismissed the guilt that came with it. But they can’t keep it away forever. The suicide rate of this population is exceedingly high, and it is not because Christians are calling their actions sin. It’s because they know in their hearts that this is a sinful and destructive lifestyle. They are never satisfied. Some of the stats I have heard indicate that many homosexuals will have had 1000+ partners in their life. And all those who have come out of it, having been freed by the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, know it, too. They know it does not satisfy, and some are now supporting preachers who are calling this out and pleading with people to get out of such lifestyles.

Another false version of this that I will address is the “positive confession” claims of the Word of Faith teachings. If you are sick, declare that you are healthy. Why? Because they actually believe that you can speak your dreams and desires into reality. They will tell you to not say, “I am getting sick,” but to say, “I am healthy.” This is not confession. This is insanity and denying reality. Yet MANY people have fallen for this line of thinking. And where it is most devastating is when people are told to “confess the name of Christ” and you are born again. While salvation does require such confession, that is far from all of it. That confession must be coupled with brokenness over your sin, and it must bear fruit of repentance.

The last thing I’ll address here goes back to the proper definition of sin. Earlier in this series, I described how a false understanding of sin describes it as “mistakes” or “imperfections.” This lightens the sting of sin and makes us feel better so that we can go “oh, well” and move on in life. However, there is a severe problem with this mindset. Jesus didn’t die for mistakes or imperfections. He died for sin. He died for treasonous sedition and defiance against God. If we refuse to confess sin as sin, then is Jesus going to defend us on Judgment Day? Confession means we agree with what God says about any topic. If God says something is a sin and we try to dismiss it, sugarcoat it, or lighten the sting of it, then we are not confessing sin, we are excusing sin, and that is not covered by the blood of Jesus.

But to just confess the name of Christ will not save anyone. The sons of Sceva did that in an attempt to drive out some demons, and the demon possessed man easily kicked their tails. And many who profess the name of Christ are still going to go to Hell because Jesus never knew them, never had that intimate relation in which His seed was implanted in them. Isaiah warns of seven virgins who’d take hold of one man to arrange a marriage of convenience so they could get his name but have no commitment to it. Jesus won’t be part of that kind of deal. It’s all in or all out.

James tells us that if we confess our sins to one another (this is not talking about having a “let’s celebrate our sin” party) in the intimacy of friendships or elders, there is freedom. Not everything should be aired out in public, but when we confess our sin in front of genuine brothers and sisters, we may feel the condemnation coming, but what you will receive instead is genuine grace and forgiveness and comfort. They will cover that sin and not expose it to any who need not hear it (note, I am talking about genuine believers, not those who tend to be gossipers). And that leads to the next part of the dealing with sin – the covering of sin, which we’ll look at next week.

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Abijah, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 4, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After Rehoboam died, his son Abijah became the next king of the land of Judah, which was comprised of the southern two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Abijah was only king for about 3 years, but there is still significance to his reign.

An interesting fact about Abijah is that scholars cannot agree on his name. While it is Abijah in many Hebrew manuscripts and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), it shows up at Abijam in many other Hebrew manuscripts. The name Abijah literally means the father of God, but it could also mean possessor of God or worshipper of God.

There are three items noted in 1 Kings 15:1-8 regarding the reign of Abijah: his mother Maakah, the continued lack of following God in Judah, and the war that continued between the two kingdoms of Israel and Juda.

Why is Abijah’s mother Maakah important? She was the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah and Tamar, making her the granddaughter of King David’s son Absalom. Rehoboam (Abijah’s father) had 18 wives, and Maakah was his favorite. The fact that Maakah is mentioned multiple times in Scripture shows that she had a strong influence on these kings and within her family, as women were often not given much mention.

The apple did not fall far from the tree with Abijah, and he continued in his father Rehoboam’s ways. “He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been” (1 Kings 15:3). There is hope with each generation that they will not continue the sins of the generation before, but that was not the case here. This shows the importance of leaving a good spiritual legacy for those who come after us. It is so often easier to follow the ways of those who influenced us (such as our parents) than to change our ways.

The author contrasts Abijah’s disobedient ways toward God with those of his ancestor David in verses 4-5. He focuses on how David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, except for his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. God had made a covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7:4-17 where God declared that “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (verse 16). Even in spite of Abijah’s heart not being fully devoted to God, God still preserved the throne through him. Eventually, God would raise up a king to the throne who would follow Him and His ways; but that king was not Abijah.

The next significant item in Abijah’s short reign was how the war continued between Judah and Israel (verse 6). Jeroboam was still the king of the northern tribes of Israel at that time. 2 Chronicles 13 provides more details of this war. While the account in 1 Kings 15 doesn’t say much, the account in 2 Chronicles 13 shows Abijah’s bravery in battle against great odds and Judah’s triumph over Israel as a result of that.

When Abijah and Jeroboam went to battle, Abijah had 400,000 troops compared to Jeroboam’s 800,000. Abijah began the battle with a great speech about how Judah should be the rightful nation rather than Israel. Abijah played the “God card” on Jeroboam, stating how God gave the throne to David and his descendants forever, and how the northern tribes are the ones that rebelled, not the southern ones. The northern tribes were the ones who had forsaken God, not the southern ones, according to Abijah. He clearly claims that God is with Judah and not Israel, and he urges them not to fight since Israel will lose: “People of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed” (2 Chronicles 13:12).

But while Abijah was making his great speech, he wasn’t paying attention to the actions of Jeroboam’s army. Jeroboam had them surrounded and was ready to attack from the front and the back! But, it turns out that what Abijah said was true; God did grant the victory to Judah, and Judah caused 500,000 casualties among Israel’s army (2 Chronicles 13:17). Note that Judah’s army only consisted of 400,000 men, so they killed more than were in their whole army! That truly was God’s hand at work: “The Israelites were subdued on that occasion, and the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their ancestors” (verse 18).

It is important to note that Abijah and Judah captured Bethel in the land of Israel (verse 19). Bethel is one of the sites where Jeroboam set up a golden calf for the people to worship (1 Kings 12:28-30), so Bethel was an important city for the nation. God provided victory for Judah so that He could show His power over the golden calf. God is the one true God, and any idol or statue created by human hands is not.

Abijah appears to have had a love-hate relationship with God. He trusted in God enough to deliver Judah in the battle against Jeroboam and the ten northern tribes of Israel, yet he followed his father Rehoboam’s ways of not worshiping and serving God and God alone. Yes, God granted victory to Judah in that battle, but the war between the nations was still ongoing. Was this lack of peace between Israel and Judah a direct result of Abijah (and Jeroboam) not following God and His ways? While the Scriptures do not spell that out for us, it’s very likely. When people (or nations) disobey God, it often turns out very poorly due to God’s natural law.

Where are you at in following God? Even though Abijah wasn’t fully following Him, God used Abijah to defeat Israel in battle, who was even more idolatrous. Are you allowing God to use your life? If you’re not fully following God, are you experiencing the negative consequences that come from that? Pray that God will help you trust Him more and that you will see evidence of His working in your life, which will help grow your trust in Him.

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Sin 16: Dust and Ashes

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 1, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The Jewish expression of deep remorse was to wear sackcloth and to cover their heads with dust and ashes. This was done after a defeat in battle but also as an outward expression of humility before God. When we sin and after God breaks us over it, our response should be that of humility and unworthiness to even approach God for mercy.

Job is a clear example of this. After dealing with his intense ordeal in which he lost his family and possessions and his closest companions kept berating him for a sin he did not commit, God showed up and didn’t even explain Himself to Job. Instead, God showed His sovereignty over all things; who is Job that God should have to answer to him? Job realized who he was dealing with and said, “I have spoken that which I knew not, therefore I repent in dust and ashes.” Job never sinned with his lips and blamed God for anything, but he had taken an unhealthy position of demanding that God give him an explanation.

Why dust and ashes? That goes back to creation. God made Adam from the dust of the earth, and after Adam sinned, God cursed him to return to the dust from whence he came. Adam did not come from a set of humanoids nor evolved from a common ancestor with apes. He was created from the dust of the earth as a special creation. So the Jews, treating this as a historical event, use dust and ashes as a symbol that, “I am made from dust and I am returning to dust and I am as worthy as dust.” Many ended up treating this as tradition and never really grasped the true meaning of it, but that is where it came from.

Dust, as we know, is the tiniest piece of dirt easily picked up by the wind. It is the most broken-down part of the dirt. Without gluing agents like water, it comes and goes with a mere breath. Ashes, as we know, are the remnants of anything that a fire has consumed. Like dust, ash blows away with the wind and is gone. This is also the imagery used to describe the brevity of life here on earth. Just a few decades and we are gone. When we are compared to dust, we are to realize that our lives are short, and we will come and go while the world goes on as though we were never there.

Isaiah takes a slightly different approach but uses the same idea. After pronouncing judgment upon Judah and other nations for their sins, Isaiah got a glimpse of the throne of Heaven. Just that one glimpse and Isaiah shrieked, “Woe is me! I am undone!” This could also be translated as saying, “I am disintegrated. I am dust. I am obliterated.” Isaiah realized that despite being God’s prophet, he was still in need of a Savior; if put in the presence of God, he’d be annihilated. When I’ve written about the holiness of God, I’ve made a point that God cannot let us be in His presence because He will simply destroy us merely with His presence as ice being near a fire melts immediately. We have to recognize that we truly are nothing and worth nothing when next to God. Yes, God loves us and yes, God treasures us, but we have no intrinsic value. Our value only comes from God choosing to love us.

When we sin, we, who are worthless as dust, turn against God. When we sin, we are demanding that our voice and our opinions be heard and that we get to decide what we think is right or wrong. But that is not our decision to make. That is God’s decision. That is why God has to break us, to put us back in our place and show us that we truly are just dust and ashes. Yet, despite that, God chose us. We must remember that when God breaks us, it is always for our benefit, because God had to get to the sin without destroying us. While it will leave us with scars, let us not forget that God is the master surgeon, too. He will break us and then restore us, and our restored state will be better than our first state.

However, there are people who will do anything they can to avoid brokenness before God and repenting in dust and ashes. Brokenness is painful, and we don’t want to go through it. So instead of dealing with the issue, we just mask it up. Instead of coming to the true Doctor, we just “tough it out.” If you haven’t noticed in this series, for every action that God does and calls us to do, there is always a counterfeit. Why does God have to break us? Because the sin in our lives is literally killing us, and God needs to do invasive surgery. But what does sinful man want? Sinful man is in such rebellion and enmity against God that even though we KNOW that what God says truly is best for us, we fight against it just because God said it. Ever notice how so many people have no problems with just about any idea presented in the Bible, as long as it is not the Bible saying it? So, when the Bible says that we need to be broken and mourn over our sin in dust and ashes, man will refuse to do that. But if an AA club says to do it, if a politician says to do it, or if the woke culture says to do it, it’s not a problem.

Instead of recognizing our brokenness and coming before God as though we are nothing but dust or ashes, sinful man will deal with the rock bottom shame of sin by seeking comfort, ease, and anything to dull or take the pain away. Some turn to drugs or alcohol. Some turn to sex or food. Others turn to motivational speakers or psychologists. Anything and everything except bowing the knee to Christ and confessing their sin before Him.

All of this ties into the next step in the proper response to sin: confession of sin, which we’ll look at next week.

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