Until we recognize what sin is, we cannot recognize the priceless value of the treasure of salvation. (Russell Roseberry)
6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Psalm 51:6 NKJV
King Asa ruled over Judah for forty-one years, a member of the line of David in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Like all other people, he was not perfect. He could follow God closely on one occasion, and on another, act like God was not even there or at least not sufficient to help him solve the problems of the day. Does this sound familiar?
But King Asa loved the Lord. He recognized the importance of devotion to God as well as his role in leading the people of Judah back to Him.
Israel, with Judah, was a unique nation, formed by the Lord to be His special Light to the world. They were God’s testimony to His eternal love, power, and forgiveness. There was no separation of church and state in Biblical Israel – they were God’s instruments to reach out to the ends of the earth to bring the good news of a coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will one day reign with justice and mercy over all men and women who seek His salvation.
God approved of the actions of King Asa:
2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God, 3 for he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places, and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images. 4 He commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment. 5 He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him. 2 Chronicles 14:2-5 NKJV
King Asa recognized the sin of the nation. Sin is a rejection of God and His ways and a pursuit of the selfish desires of our inner heart. These desires and lusts run contrary to God’s love for each one of us, and often result in harm to others. They can also set up stumbling blocks which make it harder for others to seek the Lord.
Israel and Judah were worshipping many foreign gods that were in the land from the surrounding or preceding nations. The primary ones were Baal and Asherah – under their wooden idols and poles, these gods hid a demonic core. Their “worship” appealed to the selfish desires of the flesh. Evidence of their demonic existence still pervades and misleads the world into various forms of idol worship today. (See the previous meditation, “Chasing Idols Then and Now” for a run-down).
When King Asa recognized these spiritual cancers for what they were, he boldly acted to remove them from the land. This was not a popular action in the eyes of many men and women, but God was pleased. It also preserved the land from ultimate destruction, as God would not permit idol worship to go on in His land forever.
What about us? What do we do when we recognize that our inner desires have been leading us on a path away from God and towards the harmful idols of the world? We are often blind to the destructive nature of our actions until we begin to experience divine consequences – consequences not given for our punishment but to open our eyes to what we are doing.
King David experienced this recognition when a prophet confronted him about his sinful actions with Bathsheba, which destroyed her marriage and resulted in her husband Uriah’s death. David recorded his deeply felt prayer in Psalm 51:
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart— these, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:10,17 NKJV
When we are able to recognize our sin, we can take it to God to receive the precious gift of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. These blessings come to us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who bore the sins of all those who seek the Lord, before or since. He bore the sins of King David who came a thousand years before Him as well as the sins of you and me, those we committed yesterday, today and will likely commit tomorrow.
We will never be sinless but may God in His grace help us to “sin less”, and to boldly approach His throne, forsaking all idols and all other gods who tempt us in our lives.
Is God letting you know of an attitude or habit that is offensive to Him and He wants you to change? I often get the message loud and clear when this is the case for me.
It is not easy to turn away from the idols we love to worship. Every day can bring a new battle. But God is pleased when we win a battle – it honors Him and His place on the throne of our hearts. When we fail, He is right there to pick us up when we approach Him with a broken and contrite heart. He loves us and wants us to succeed so that we can avoid the harm and destruction that comes from so many forms of idol worship.
May the Lord bless you and confirm His great love for you today!