The Israelite exodus from Egypt was a historical, monumental act by God to redeem the people whom He would set apart for His own ultimate purpose, the establishment of a lineage for the Messiah. The promise for this began in Genesis 3:15, but continued with the covenant to Abraham, then his son Isaac and eventually his son Jacob (see Romans 9:6-13 for additional context). Beginning in Genesis 46, the family of Jacob relocated to Egypt to survive the widespread famine that had stricken the region. While there, the people begin to enlarge so much that the Egyptians began to worry about their numbers, resulting in enslavement of the people as a form of control (Exodus 1:10).
Throughout the Old Testament God was constantly reminding His people of His gracious redemption from their bondage to Egypt. This occurred not only during their 40+ year exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, but was used as a reminder by the prophets of God’s care and mercy towards His people. They were to look upon this merciful act with eyes of worship, recognizing that Yahweh had condescended Himself to redeem for Himself a people. This great act was not to be forgotten in a generation but passed along to future generations.
Conversely, the people were constantly remembering Egypt, but not for the right reason. Their hearts were set on the idolatry and delight in the pleasures of the flesh that they enjoyed while in their captivity. Observe Numbers 11:4-6 “4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
We can see in this example during the Wilderness Years that not only were the Israelites grumbling about the provision of manna from the hand of God, but they were longing for the pleasures of Egypt even if it meant their re-enslavement.
Think about this.
They failed to remember their slavery, forced to work for little to nothing, forced to make bricks without straw, forced to labor for an idolatrous leader for idolatrous purposes; all forgotten as their focused turned to what they enjoyed during that time. What God had provided them was unsatisfying because they failed to appreciate their redemption and worship God for providing their daily bread. Instead their insatiable appetite lusted for the pleasures of Egypt.
How true is that for us today as believers?
Though we have been redeemed by Yahweh from the enslavement and bondage to sin, we often find ourselves complaining about the provisions of God and longing for the days when our fleshly desires were fulfilled. All too familiar is this idea conveyed through the Israelites of our own bondage and slavery. We forget all about the lack of reverence toward God, our failure to delight fully in Him and love Him with all our hearts, mind, soul, and strength. We forget about the guilt and shame that our sin brought on us or the pain that we caused others because of our enslavement to sin. Worst of all, we forget that our sin was an affront to the holiness of God, demanded the justice of God, satisfied through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Instead, we remember the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. The momentary satisfaction that sin brought us.
Ezekiel 23 provides a helpful comparison and contrast of remembering Egypt for the wrong reasons and includes the account of how God feels about this. Please take time to read it in it’s context, as it is quite provocative. While the force of God’s disdain towards those who would remember the lusts of Egypt cannot be fully expressed apart from the entire chapter in context, we can get a sense of it in verse 27 “Thus I will put an end to your lewdness and your whoring begun in the land of Egypt, so that you shall not lift up your eyes to them or remember Egypt anymore.”
God’s desire for the Israelites was for them to remember His gracious goodness in their redemption and His providential care towards them throughout their Exodus. However, as they looked in their rearview mirror at Egypt, they overlooked this and failed to give God the worship due His name. In actuality, they perverted the goodness of God by embracing the lusts of their flesh experienced during their time in Egypt.
Too often, we look back on sin, our own personal Egypt, with delight in our eyes. Perhaps it is a memory that we allow to linger or a thought that we fail to take captive, but sin has a surprising way of appearing crystal clear in our rear-view mirror. Would that our hearts would be moved to focus more on the gospel of Jesus Christ; that our memories would be set upon the redemption that is only found in Him; that the cross would be vivid in our rearview and the glories of heaven a desire for our destination. Set your minds on things above and not on things below. Remember your redemption from Egypt and give no thought to her pleasures. Her allurements are unsatisfying and she wishes nothing more for you than re-enslavement. But you, believer, have been bought with a price; ransomed from Egypt by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Originally published February 17, 2010. This version has some minor formatting and content edits.
Last week we looked at the importance of declaring war against our own sinful flesh and we uncovered and examined some truths about the nature of this war. In brief summary, we outlined 3 key strategies in declaring this war:
Don’t conform to the world (Rom. 12:1)
Renew your Mind (Rom. 12:1)
Put on Christ and realize your identity in Him (Rom. 13:14)
If you remember, this third strategy is where our true power lies, by realizing that this fight of the flesh in our battle toward holiness cannot come from any internal power of our own, but instead from the power of Christ living in us. It’s on this point that we must advance and avoid the wartime ambush.
Picture it like this, you’ve declared war against sin, against your own sinful nature, against your fleshly desires of anger, greed, lust, fear, anxiety, money, power, selfishness, racism, hatred, every ungodly impulse that runs through your body and you’ve developed your battle plan, a list of do’s and don’ts that are sure to make you victorious. Just like the troops ready to storm the beaches at Normandy, you too are ready to begin your war.
There’s only one problem, that list of do’s and don’ts, the warfare strategy that you thought would be so helpful, has actually disarmed you and is sending you into battle with no weapon in hand. This is quite the precarious situation, because surely you cannot do battle without a plan, yet to proceed into war without a weapon would be spiritual suicide. This is why the third strategy from above is so critical; your warfare strategy must come from a total reliance on Christ. It is He that arms you with His Spirit.
Let me attempt to put this in terms we can relate to. Suppose in your declaration of war, you resolve that you will not lose your temper toward your children, spouse, co-worker, friend, etc. for 6 months. That’s a goal you’ve created in order to wage your war. What happens when you lose your temper and get angry after the first week? Have you already lost the battle? Will you start the 6-month period again? What would be the point in that?
A second scenario might be that you’ve decided to avoid all lusts of the flesh and after a few months have passed you are able to look back and say, “I haven’t committed a lustful sin in 7 months 4 days and 3 hours.” This is equivalent to building the Titanic and declaring that God Himself cannot sink it. That “sinless” streak will end nearly as soon as your Pharisaic declaration has been made. How then did our “list” strategy fail us? Especially when we had intentions of doing good.
These lists that we like to create are really no different than what the Apostle Paul addresses in Romans chapter 8, because just like the “Law” that he speaks of, our lists cannot sanctify us, only Jesus Christ working in us through His Spirit can bring us progressively closer to Christ-likeness.
In Romans 8:3 ESV Paul states,
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”
The law that Paul speaks of here, namely the Mosaic Law (10 Commandments), is perfectly Holy, perfectly good, but our sinful flesh is unable to uphold them, just like we are unable to keep those lists we created. If you remember, in our last post we said that legalism was “doing” works, i.e. law keeping, in attempt to gain right standing with God. Legalism (“law-keeping/list-making”) can’t improve our standing or justify us, just like it can’t move us toward holiness, or sanctification. The same principle is at work here; we must be totally dependent on Christ trusting in Him that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV
Our instruction from Jesus is to obey the law, to follow the commandments that God has outlined for us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 ESV The law however, reveals areas of personal weakness (Romans 5:20) in our hearts that needs to be changed. But the law, and to a lesser extent our list based on the law, isn’t a personal improvement plan; it’s a standard of holiness, one that without Christ at work in our lives any attempt to uphold it would be futile. How then can we move toward holiness and progress in our sanctification without checking off a list of do’s and don’ts? By loving Jesus. If you love Him, you WILL keep His commandments. It’s conditional on love, not on list keeping. Do you want to move toward victory in your war? “This land cannot be entered by moral effort or by moral attainment.” (A. Redpath). It can only be entered by the redeeming blood of the Savior Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit within us. Run to Jesus and love Him, treasure Him, obey Him, and you will have victory.
“Absolute triumph is achieved only in response to utter obedience.”
“For the greater the obedience, the greater the discipline, the greater the faith, the fuller and more complete the allegiance to our precious Lord, the more does the heart expand and receive more and more of Jesus.” A. Redpath- Victorious Christian Living
While the relevance of some of those quoted below has seemingly waned, nevertheless the danger and divisiveness of the political gospel is even more pressing and relevant today than it was 8 years ago.
Originally posted August 17, 2010
If you’ve been following along with me on this blog for any time now, you’ve likely seen some posts regarding the social gospel, a wing of the Liberal Emerging/Emergent church that promotes social well-being and improving people’s lives here on earth with a dominionistic, kingdom-now philosophy. What this [teaching] says is that we can establish Christ’s kingdom here on earth through a “missional” approach to meeting peoples felt needs. This is contrary to the Great Commission that Jesus laid forth to His disciples which is to go and make disciples of all nations and teaching them what Jesus commanded. Today however I want to introduce another “wing”/offshoot/ false gospel that has been cleverly masked as the real Gospel.
You may have read Liberty University: An unbiblical alliance with the world the post I wrote that covered Liberty University’s decision to invite political commentator and noted Mormon, Glenn Beck, to deliver their recent commencement speech. It was a post I took some heat for and one that quite frankly surprised me as God allowed several national websites to link and quote that post. In that post I stated:
“This announcement is further evidence of the ongoing ecumenical shift taking place within the Church body. Alliances such as these are not glorifying to God, in that what association has God with false religions? The tangential dangers when the evangelical community unites with the secular world for the sake of social or political agendas are numerous because it leads to a dilution of truths from the Word of God, opens the door to give credence to non-believers within evangelical circles and ultimately leads to the eternal destruction of lost people.”
This wasn’t limited to Liberty only, as I stated it’s exactly what is happening within the Church [Christendom/Evangelicalism] today among self-professing Christians. The political gospel has infiltrated and become the focus of many, many self-professing Christians and most do not even realize how harmful and dangerous it really. The political gospel plays on the emotions of concerned citizens in America but instead of simply taking a political stance, it disguises itself by using words like “God”, “faith”, even “Jesus” making it sound even more appealing to the Church. All of these are words that the undiscerning ear hears and assumes to be the truth because they “sound Christian” and because they are in fact the same words that we read in the Bible and apply in our Christian walk. However, in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 the Apostle Paul writes:
“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
Let’s stop and think for a minute about what Paul is saying here. Paul is continuing to write and preach the truth such that he undermines the false teachers invading the Church. He states that their claims of truth appear similar and that these false prophets would claim to have the same mission as genuine Bible teachers/ Gospel proclaimers. Paul then calls them out for who they really are, false, deceitful, and disguisers, which should come as no surprise since Satan himself disguises as an angel of light. Therefore, Paul continues, these servants of Satan also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. With that context of Paul’s letter, let’s now return our focus to the political gospel.
Many people follow political voices like Glenn Beck because they have a national platform which can appeal to the masses. When we look around and see the destructive path that this nation is on, these national voices grab our attention because they recognize the same things that we see. But instead of pointing us toward the One True Gospel of Jesus Christ, all of that gets lost in political, social, and cultural talk. When they mix in words such as those we mentioned earlier like “God”, “faith”, and “Jesus” it sounds like “church” words so they then garner our full attention and become a rallying voice for political change. But these words are a disguise, just like Paul mentioned in Corinthians and they lure our focus away from the One True God and away from trusting and relying on Him as a solution to the mess we’ve created.
Watch the following video clip from last week featuring Glenn Beck on Bill O’Reilly’s show and you’ll see what I mean.
In that video we’ve got a lot going on, but it gives a bit of insight into the motives taking place within the political gospel. What we immediately heard are the “culture war” topics like homosexual marriage and abortion. This is the first problem; the culture war is an illusion. We are in a sin war. The political gospel fails to recognize this “culture war” nonsense as sin. It is sin and it is offensive to THE Holy God. But it’s never called that because when you politicize these issues it makes them more palatable and debatable, versus saying they are sin, which sounds far too judgmental and harsh.
The second problem is you heard Beck use one of our buzz words from earlier, “faith”. Only listen to his context, “general faith”, returning to our “churches, synagogues, and mosques”, and then a second of our words, “getting back to ‘God’”. Christians wake up! This is universalism. This is the classic all paths lead to God language and it is anti-Biblical. Yet these are the words that are used to lure you into following this political gospel. These other religions are false. There is only One God and He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus clearly states He is “the way truth and the life and NO MAN comes unto the Father” but by Him. But the political gospel dresses up their language to make it sound churchy. You’ll even hear them talk about Jesus, sin, and His death, but in another breath they promote a different God, a different Jesus and it is a lie and truth is not in them. You cannot believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, trust Him as Lord and Savior and then talk about Christians, Jews, and Muslims all getting back to God. That is an antithetical, or opposing, statement yet it is typical bait for the political gospel peddlers.
The third point from this video is the statement Beck makes of ignoring the “decisive things” such as gay marriage, because we have “bigger fish to fry.” Sir, I must ask what is bigger: offending an infinitely Holy God by ignoring sin or solving the financial problems of an increasing godless country? The reason to return to our churches, namely those that preach only Christ and Him crucified, is to repent of the sins that we have committed and beg God for mercy, not because “the country is burning.” On a side note, listen to 1:58 in the video where Beck offers O’Reilly “a little Jesus” in a mocking way. It’s almost as if he knows using “Jesus” is a buzz word to gain a following from the Christian community, but this cavalier, mocking usage here begins to reveal the wolf hiding under the sheepskin. The fourth and final point is the quote by Thomas Jefferson, “If it neither breaks my leg or picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?” Think about what the Apostle Paul said earlier, “And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.” Paul was teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ while at the same time battling those who taught anything contrary to it. What if Paul had said like Jefferson that if it doesn’t hurt me or cost me money then I don’t care? This language takes the focus off of God and places it on self, typical of the man-centered political and social gospels. Instead Paul preached the message that Jesus taught of denying oneself, picking up your Roman torture device, i.e. cross, and following Him, a substantially different message than either Beck, O’Reilly, or Jefferson would state.
So what do we make of all this? First I would like to remind you that as Christians, this world is not our home. We are dual citizens, but our permanent home residence is with Christ and His Kingdom. As such, our focus should be on where we will spend eternity and not on a fallen, deceitful, and sinful world, whether that focus is America or not. Secondly, let’s address these common “church” words that we are hearing tossed around. In the verses that immediately precede those we read earlier we see Paul’s staunch warning, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 Paul is warning the Church about those who will come and preach another Jesus and a different gospel, note he says here “your thoughts will be lead astray.” Additionally, Paul writes a warning to the Church at Galatia, but steps up the intensity a bit, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” The Apostle states even if he or any of his fellow teachers comes to preach another gospel, even if it’s an angel from heaven then let them be accursed. This gospel and this Jesus that we are hearing in the political gospel is not the same Gospel message of the Bible and it is not the same Christ Jesus the Son of God. Thirdly, why do we associate with the people that peddle this gospel? In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 we read, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” What business have we following or aligning ourselves, politically or otherwise, with unbelievers? When you follow unbelievers you open yourself up to susceptibility of the lies they teach. Anything other than the truth leads to a path of destruction. That old saying is so true, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Paul’s warnings should stand as a sobering wake up to all of us today. What we hear on the left is the liberal/social gospel and what we hear on the right is the political gospel. Both are lies and both are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unless we return to the True Gospel, the One True Jesus Christ, and His Father, then this country will continue its moral slide and the visible Church will continue the path to apostasy. Wake up Christians! “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11
I Timothy 6:3-5 “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"