John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep (guard) My commandments.
Since the Bible is so clear that “keeping” or guarding God’s commandments brings blessing and rejecting His commandments brings disaster, why is it so easy to stray from the straight and narrow way? We know by experience and by observation that it is easier to disobey God than it is to obey Him even though He says that His commands are not grievous or burdensome (1 John 5:3). What are the commands that we are to keep in the New Testament? There is one command in two parts and those parts are found in 1 John 3:23, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” We can read this basic command through the Old Testament and the New. “Love God, and love one another” is a concise summary of these two commands. Our problem is that we would rather believe what we “think is right” than believe what God says. Because of that we are easily convinced to believe lies by the Father of lies who is Satan himself.
Eve was given one command in the Garden of Eden. Just one. It wasn’t like she was given the IRS code or the government regulations having to do with commerce. Her command was to refrain from eating the fruit from one tree in the middle of the Garden. If she had known what we know now, do you suppose she would have been enticed to eat it? I think she still would have eaten. The idea that she could be “as gods or mighty ones” which meant that she could determine what was right and what was wrong was a great temptation. Even if she had understood the long-term consequences of her decision, the short-term satisfaction of being in charge of good and evil, would have been difficult to resist.
So why did people before the flood so quickly turn away from God and become wicked? As they turned away from God, they didn’t become more intelligent or sophisticated or loving. No, as they turned away from God, there was violence in the earth. The imagination of man’s heart was evil and God wished that he had never made man. His beautiful creation had corrupted itself. People had become violent and wicked and this was not what God had intended so there was a flood and a new beginning.
It didn’t take long before people born to Noah began developing their own way of approaching their own concept of god. God had to restrain them by confusing their language at the tower of Babel. Even Israel, God’s redeemed people, found it easy to turn to idlols though they knew it was wrong. At the end of the period of the judges, every man in Israel was doing what was right in his own eyes. Why do people constantly turn away from the real God to serve fake gods which really meant they were worshiping Satan himself?
Reasons for Turning Aside
I believe that short-term pleasure was one of the main reasons for worshiping the gods of nature associated with Baal. Most of this worship was centered around the stars, the sun, the moon, the earth, the seasons and fertility. People who worshiped this way had fun and were often not restrained even though Baal sometimes needed to be appeased through cruel sacrifices and rituals.
Adults have trouble with peer pressure just like children do and I believe in some cases they wanted to worship Baal so that they could fit in with their neighbors. In some cases, they wanted to intermarry with the people who worshiped Baal and so they worshiped the gods of the people whose daughters they found attractive.
Many people simply rebel at being accountable to the creator God of heaven and will not willingly worship Him. Worshiping Jehovah and the Lord Jesus requires discipline and dying to self. Most of us are self-centered. You can’t be self-centered if you are going to love God and love your neighbor.
Do we Worship Baal Today?
The answer is that we haven’t gone so far in most evangelical churches to actually worship idols (although some orthodox Christian churches do). However, in trying to make Christianity relevant, we have watered down the Gospel. Most are simply told to say a prayer or make a decision to be saved and they never get their eye off of themselves. Of course, everyone must decide that they want to be saved before they are saved, but they still must be awakened to their sin. They must look to the Lord and to the Lord alone for salvation. They must actually repent and believe (trust). Then after we are saved we need to get baptized, read the Bible and pray. We need conversations with God. We should associate with those who are not trying to be all things to everyone but with those who are being faithful to the Lord even when that is costly and not popular. It really is pretty easy to disobey even for a true Christian. I suppose the reason for that is that we still "want to be as gods."
Meditation for the week of February 19, 2017