I read today about King Hezekiah. For years God’s people had done evil in His eyes. They had served other gods and been led astray. When Hezekiah becomes king he determines to do something about this. He begins by bringing in the Levites and the priest. The Bible says that they consecrated themselves to God. Which means they set themselves apart and dealt with any and all sin in their lives. For sixteen days they worked to purify the temple and to remove all the things within that were not supposed to be there. They restored it in accordance to the way it was to be. Hezekiah knew offerings had to be made, blood sprinkled and sins atoned for. So he brought 7 bulls, 7 rams, 7 male lambs and 7 male goats and offered them as sin offerings unto the Lord. While the offerings were being made, the people sang praises to God and worshipped. King Hezekiah then called all to come and offer sacrifices and thanksgiving offerings unto the Lord. At the end of this time, the Bible says the Israelites went throughout all of Judah and cut down Asherah poles, smashed and removed sacred stones and destroyed the high places and alters built to other gods. These people were serious about following after the Lord. (2 Chronicles 29-31).
Fast forward to the present time and though we may not have high places, Asherah poles or sacred stones throughout our homes, churches or lands. I do believe we all have idols in our lives and gods we bow down to. These could be anything from a long for control, to food, t.v. music, sports, drugs,or alcohol. For an idol is simply anything we put before God.
As I read this today, I sensed the Lord asking me, “What things are you willing to destroy, cut down and remove in your life so that you may draw close to Me?” As followers of Christ, we may not have addictions or struggle with blatant sins. But, what about the issues of the heart. Selfishness, pride, greed, lust, anger and worry? My guess is we that struggle with one or more of these.
I was recently reading a book by Nancy Leigh Demoss called Holiness. In this book she describes the fact that as Christians we are called to be holy, set apart unto the Lord. This holiness comes through our acceptance and relationship with Christ. For it is He who justifies us and makes us holy through His blood. However, the Scripture teaches repeatedly that we are to put off certain things and put on others to grow in our walks with Christ.In our pursuit of holiness we must deal and deal severely with sin. Nancy says in Latin that the word put off means to mutilate or to destroy completely. Anyone who has ever gardened knows that when pulling weeds it is not enough to pull it up unless you get the root. For without the root, it will continue to grow and destroy.
This is the picture seen in the story of Hezekiah. Sin was not just dealt with on the surface, it was cut down, removed and destroyed. In the Sermon on the Mt. Jesus gives us a vivid description of dealing with sin. He says, “that if your arm causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eyes causes you to sin, pluck it out (Mathew 5).” He was and is serious about sin. Jesus was seeking to make a strong point that we are to destroy, cut out and remove anything in our lives that leads us to sin. In the book Holiness, Nancy writes that if watching t.v., listening to certain music, hanging out with ungodly influences, playing certain games or reading fictional reading leads you to sin, to rid yourself of these things.
I have thought much about this, this week. See it is easy to point our fingers and blame others for the problems in the church, problems in the school and problems in the government, but this will not change anything. The real issue begins with me and with you. Are we willing to be Holy, set apart from the world? Do we long to pursue Christ and grow in our walks with Him? If the answer is yes and I hope it is, then we must be ready to cut down, remove and destroy things in our lives that lead us to sin and draw us away from Christ.
As our walks with Christ grow and as we deal severely with sin. Others will take notice and I am convinced God will use this to spark change and repentance in others lives. As this happens within our churches, lives will be changed and repentance of sin will be evident. So that once again our churches will be lights in this dark world.
Yet, it begins with us. So I will ask you what things in your life lead you to sin? Take time to really think about this. Pray about it and ask the Lord to show you all areas where purification needs to be made. As He reveals these things to you, be willing to cut down, remove and destroy these things. For as you do, your intimacy for Christ will grow, His holiness will be evident and lives will be changed.