“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase… And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid… And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Leviticus 26:3-13).
God’s chosen people were given this simple arrangement to follow. Obey the statutes and commandments I have given you, and I will take care of everything else. What a tremendous promise, if only they could have kept up their end of the bargain. Throughout the reign of the kings of Israel and Judah, only a few seemed to be able to walk the line. In fact, it appears that the greatest downfall of the kingdom, over time, was idol worship: the breaking of God’s first commandment.
King after king is said to have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord, with only a handful actually following the will of God. Yet, even those who did what was right in the sight of the Lord seemed to stop short of complete obedience to God. Time after time the high places (groves and altars for idol worship) are allowed to remain, and the strength of the nation is restricted. The root of this problem can be seen in 2 Chronicles 15, when the Spirit of God comes upon the prophet Azariah to meet with Asa, king of Judah.
In verse 3, Azariah says to King Asa, “Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.” Up until this time, Asa had done all he knew to obey God. The priesthood existed in the land of Judah, but it had become stale, concerned only with ritual. Not until a teaching priesthood existed, one that could instruct the people in the ways of the Lord, did they fully understand what it meant to obey God. It wasn’t until after Asa heard the words of the prophet that he “took courage” and completed the task.
Asa then renewed the altar of the Lord, gathered the people in Jerusalem, and offered great sacrifices to God. The land of Judah “entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul” (2 Chron. 15:12). Asa became a king who “took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves;” even going as far as removing his own mother from being queen because she “made an idol in a grove” (verse 16). Asa did not stop short with removing the altars, or even with cutting down the groves, but completed the task of cleansing the entire kingdom of wickedness. Once the king began walking in obedience to God, and the nation of Judah with him, their land was blessed with “no more war” (verse 19) for the next 20 years of Asa’s reign.
By honoring God and taking steps to sanctify our lives, our faith increases. We have all heard “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Studying the word of God, and learning more of His will for our lives, increases our faith in Him. God honors our efforts, and will draw nearer to those who draw near to Him. What if, however, the picture of God we are given has been distorted? What about those who are being misguided by the very people they trust to be their teaching priesthood?
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). He goes onto say that they have been deceived, not by another gospel entirely, but by a perversion of the gospel of Christ. The Galatians had allowed the pure doctrine that had been given to them by Paul to be distorted by those who either seek their own gratification or are themselves misguided. Paul chastised the Galatians for allowing the gospel to be compromised: for losing track of their roots.
He tells them “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). He went on to tell them in verses 11-12, “…the gospel which was preached of me is not after man” but was received “by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We are commanded, as Paul says here, to follow Christ’s gospel exactly. The pure doctrine of Christ is a powerful thing, and any man that taints or distorts it seals his own fate.
John describes those who compromise the gospel of Christ as “many antichrists” (1 John 2:18). Saying that these men “went out from us, but they were not of us” (verse 19). Those that twist the doctrine and gospel of Christ appear to be men of God, but are merely seducers of men, and antichrists “made manifest.” All too often, the very people we trust to guide us to Christ are the ones leading us astray. So how do we know when we are being led to righteousness and when we are being led to wickedness?
John goes on to tell us “…ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know ALL things” (1 John 2:20). Christ Himself said in Matt. 24:24, “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” We are told that Satan will try to pervert Christ’s gospel, and deceive God’s very own chosen people. John does not tell us that we might have an idea of some of what we need. He tells us that, as long as we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow it to guide our thoughts, that we will KNOW ALL THINGS.
It is only by listening to the Spirit that we can know absolute truth; only through absolute truth can we know God’s will; and only by knowing God’s will can we truly obey Him and be found holy and acceptable in His sight. We can never be afraid to take a step in faith, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and our actions. It is only through the Spirit that we receive affirmation of God’s will, and we cannot be afraid to boldly act on its guidance. As we strive to sanctify ourselves for our Heavenly Father, we must trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that “…we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1Jn. 1:28).