I do not understand our fascination with sin. Why are we so prone to dabble in it, excuse it, accept it or hide it? Why do we not loathe it, avoid it, fight it and expose it? Instead of quickly adopting some new “trend” of the world, why don’t we (as Christians) heed God’s instruction? “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
When God freed the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage, He promised them a land flowing with abundance. But they had to eliminate the land’s existing inhabitants. Now, this may initially sound heartless and unloving, but God knew the Canaanites’ lifestyle included worshiping idols and demons, practicing sexual promiscuity and sacrificing their children to their gods. That is why He planned to purge the land from this wickedness. He even promised to lead the Israelites in all their battles. All He asked in return was their obedience to His moral standard and their undying worship of Him as the one true God.
So they conquered the Promised Land and then divided it out by tribe according to inheritance allotment. Life was looking good, and God blessed as He promised. However, there was one small problem. They were not obediently committed to all God told them. They didn’t drive out all the wicked inhabitants. They didn’t separate themselves fully from the wicked influences God destined for destruction.
In Judges 1, we find how various Israelite tribes allowed some of the Canaanites to remain. Some they couldn’t overpower, even though God said He would help them. Some of their new neighbors probably looked harmless, so instead of eliminating them, the Israelites placed them under “tribute” as a means of servitude. Hey, we can make some money off them, so why get rid of them? Whatever the justification, Israel did not obey God, and it ended up costing them dearly.
In Judges 2:2-3, God says: “But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’” The Israelites’ unwillingness to eliminate these wicked influences left them vulnerable to their seducing persuasion.
In applying this to modern-day Christians, the world’s “style” looks fascinating and harmless. And just like that, the slow erosion of noncommittal faith costs us our witness for, protection by and power with God. While we dance on the precipice of sin, a dying world gasps for grace.
God calls us to be holy in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15) and to live as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). Jesus said we are in this world, but not of it (John 17). James added that the friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). The term “world” implies the present sinful, immoral, Godless world system. God longs for us to separate ourselves from the world’s evil influence and to live in close intimacy with Him. Like the Israelites of old, we are to remove all sinful influences. God wants to present a glorious church to Himself that is “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Yet in looking at today’s religious culture, we often find a desire to integrate instead of separate. We flirt with unbelievers though God warns of the unequal yoke. We dress provocatively though God encourages modesty. We defend as “witnessing” the tattoos and piercings on the bodies we are merely borrowing from God. We rationalize pornography even though it violates God’s intent of marital intimacy. You know the adage: If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, eats like a duck … then it must be a duck!
Like the Israelites who didn’t cleanse their Promised Land of the wicked influences, we also have the proverbial thorns in our sides. We wonder why we don’t get answers to our prayers or why God’s power isn’t more evident. The power of the Christian life is lost because when unrepentant sin remains, the Lord does not hear us (Psalm 66:18). Without Him, we have no power — no power to witness, no power to pray, no power in spiritual warfare, no power to live the victorious life He offers.
When God calls us to a pure and godly lifestyle, He expects our obedience and allegiance to Him. Not because He wants to stifle our enjoyment, but because He already knows the result of disobedience (remember the Garden of Eden?). He offers us His abundant life (John 10:10). But to live it, we must remove all hindrances and sins that so easily entangle us (Hebrews 12:1-2). We must resist conforming to the world’s trends and renew our minds by aligning our lives to God’s holy standard (Romans 12:1-2).
My fellow believer, I struggle with my own fascination. But please consider what God has revealed to me: no matter how harmless something appears, God may be calling you to a closer level of holiness.
I challenge you to fully apply God’s Word to your life. Instead of justifying the worldly trends in your life, err on the side of God. Instead of soft-selling your “pet sin,” give yourself wholeheartedly to God and readily relinquish any habit He reveals to you.
From my own experience, only when I immediately obey and closely follow Him do I enjoy deeper intimacy with Him, answers to my prayers, and His abundant life. Now that’s a much more compelling fascination!