Ahaz was the horribly wicked king of Judah, and with reckless disregard he dishonored the one, true God. Sacred artifacts were removed from Jehovah’s Temple and given to pagan lords. Ahaz substituted the great altar designed by Yahweh with one of his own liking. Numerous shrines for competing deities were established and utilized throughout the land, and the wicked king even burned one his own sons as an offering before one of his idols.
Hoshea was the wicked and incorrigible king in the northern kingdom of Israel. He received counsel from numerous prophets and seers, but he was hell-bent on disregarding the Lord and his ways. Therefore, God condemned him and his nation. Thorough destruction was on the horizon because they …
Despised his statutes and his covenant … went after false idols and became false … followed the nations … abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images … burned their sons and daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord …. (2 Kings 17:14-18)
However, in the midst of all their wicked idolatry, materialism, and hedonism, they did something ludicrous …
So the nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children — as their fathers did, so they do to this day. (2 Kings 17:41)
Did you catch this? They “feared the Lord” and also “served their carved images.” They sought to maintain contact with Yahweh as they burned their children. They imagined they could be prosperous as synchronistic worshipers. These fools sought to hold hands, at the same time, with God and the devil.
How could a group of people be so double-minded? What sort of worshipers would imagine they could revere both God and man-made things? Who in the world would leave their pagan idols at home in order to go worship the Lord at his sacred house? Had they forgotten the first and second commandments? Were they ignorant of the exclusive relationship desired by the Jealous God? What unfaithfulness! What brazenness! What stupidity! What blasphemy!
Friends, do we understand the will of our Heavenly Father? He desires, deserves, and demands single-hearted allegiance. He loves us so, and his ways are so wise, beautiful, and profitable. Fantastic is our God and his truths.
Worshiping brothers and sisters, are we not guilty? We are born double-minded and fickle worshipers. Compromise too often describes us. We are tempted like all the patriarchs of old. We are too often like all the disciples of Christ. We are prone to wander and leave the God we love. For some reason, we are like all the characters in “Lord of the Rings” who hear the wretched voice and are consistently enticed to hold on to God with one hand while grasping the ring called “precious” with the other.
Therefore, today, again, we fix our gaze upon Jesus Christ and his righteousness. The Gospel comforts us who compromise. We sing with the hymns, “Living, he loved me; dying he saved me; buried he carried my sins far away.” We muse with the prophet, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us … you will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19) Find comfort here weary worshipers. Because we are one with Jesus Christ, all our dark duplicity is covered. In our Father’s eyes, we are seen as perfectly holy and single-minded. Because the Son has performed for us, we hear not the condemnation of the law; instead we hear only the applause of the Judge. Rest in the finished work of Jesus. And rest in the ongoing work of Jesus. For he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete that which he has already begun.
And so now we repent. We find ourselves having a change of mind brought forth from the Spirit using the Word, and now we offer forth our prayers of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and meditation.
- We deeply confess that which we have desired and done which is out of accord with our Father’s good will. With as much mourning and sorrow as he works in us, we cry over our sins which have harmed us and our loved ones.
- We thank him for his mercy and grace as expressed to me in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We believe his love, atonement, and satisfaction, and find ourselves enjoying peace within as the Spirit drives home the consequences of our Savior’s work.
- We supplicate for the Spirit’s maturing power and holy fruit. Because we are more and more longing to hate sin and love righteousness with white-hot affection, we entreat him to conform us more to Christ. Because we need him to work out of us more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, we walk in the Spirit in prayer. Friends, we ought to find ourselves increasingly humbled and desperate for God’s transforming grace. Not for a moment ought we to believe we can adequately show forth Christ without divine assistance. So we draw near with confidence and ask for sanctifying grace, and this prayer is always in accordance with God’s will.
- Finally, as part of our repentance, we meditate with God regarding what life-changes he would have us make. How would he have us practice our spiritual disciplines? Where would he have us flee youthful lusts? Though we have Christian Liberty, where would he have us say “no” to unedifying rights and privileges. Are there fences that need to be established? Ought we memorize certain bible verses? Are there relationships to discourage? What accountability partnerships should we encourage — individual or small group? Where should we “pluck out eyes” or “cut off arms?” How can we make no provisions to sin and make more provision to worship well? Where can I hear preaching that encourages me to believe the love and wisdom of God?
Oh friends, it absolutely wears us out to walk without single-minded affection, and it harms us, our children, and our children’s children. Therefore, let’s repent and stop the insanity. Our Heavenly Father has so much more instore for us than such duplicitous devotion. Therefore, seeing God’s good will, our gross sin, and his gracious provision, let us go to prayer. A bruised reed he will not break. A smoldering wick he will not put out. A repenting compromiser he will not despise. He is waiting and available to have a conversation with us — his beloved sinful saints. It’s time to confess and forsake that which harms us, our children, and our grandchildren. It’s time for us to let go of the devil’s hand and toys — again — and hug our Father who never lets us go.