Because We Love Him

Psalms 16:4 ESV

“The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.”

Another god

A god is a deity, a spirit, and/or an idol. He, she, or it is someone or something that is worshipped. And worship is adoration, reverence, respect, devotion, fear, obedience, allegiance, loyalty, commitment, and faithfulness. For, when we worship someone or something, we give to that person or thing our hearts, minds, time, passion, and commitment.

Worship of God is considered our sacred or priestly service to him. In Romans 12:1 we read that we, in view of God’s mercy, are urged to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and pleasing to God, and that this is our spiritual (or reasonable, true, and proper) service of worship of God. We are to be wholly his to serve him and to do his will.

But the problem comes into play when those who say they love God, and who claim that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of their lives, run after “other gods,” instead. For, this is not to be. But yes, there are other people to whom we are to show respect, and who we must obey, and who we must serve in some capacity or another. But that is not necessarily worship.

Worship is when we give our undying loyalty and devotion to someone or to something without reservation, without question, and above God or in place of God. They or it are who or what get most of our free time, thinking, passion, loyalty, submission, and obedience. This does not necessarily include our paying jobs or the normal care of spouse, parents, or children.

When something or someone replaces God/Jesus in our hearts and minds and in our obedience and loyalty, and when we prefer this other person or this thing over and above God/Jesus, or in their/his place, and when we refuse God and his commands in favor of this other person or thing, then we are running after and we are worshiping other gods.

The “another god,” therefore, can be a career, sports, entertainment, possessions, money, prestige, government, preachers, intellect, our own bodies, or it can be a sinful addiction (practice) such as self-gratification, pornography, gossiping, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, hating, slandering, bigotry, pride, selfishness, and lusting after others, etc.

Our Practice

If we make sin and disobedience to God our practice, and idolatry is one of those sins, we must know that the Bible teaches that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6). And our practice is our habit. It is what we do routinely, our patterns of behavior, or an addiction. It is behaviors we do repetitively and unchanging.

Have you ever had a job where you had to repeat the same processes every day, week, or month, and routinely? I have. You go through a set of steps which you do over and over again. So, this becomes your practice at your job. And it is the same way with sinful practices, for it is repeating the same patterns and the same processes over and over without change.

It is true that Jesus Christ died on that cross to free us from our bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin so that sin will no longer be what we practice. It will not be our habit. We will no longer live under its control, but now we live under Holy Spirit control, and righteousness is what we practice in the power of God’s Spirit who is now living within us (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17).

This doesn’t mean we will never sin (1 Jn 2:1-2), but that sin is no longer our master and it is no longer our habit (our practice). But there are people who will try to get around this by claiming that they repent of their sin after each time that they deliberately and habitually and even premeditatedly repeat the same sinful patterns over and over again. That doesn’t fly!

If I know that something is a sin and yet I choose of my free will to keep committing that same sin over and over again, covering it up in all the same ways, lying about it, hiding the truth, making excuses for it, blaming others, and I refuse to change, for I keep plotting out and deliberately going to what I know is wrong, I can’t just confess it each time and think that’s ok.

The Scriptures are very deliberate in how they separate out what is habitual sin that is practiced over again, and which is committed with full knowledge, in God’s face, deliberately, and even planned out in advance, without change of heart, mind, attitude and behavior, as the kind of sin that will keep us from inheriting eternal life with God. There is no wiggle room here!

If sin is our practice, our Lord Jesus Christ will not claim us as his but he will deny us before the Father. When we stand before God and we say “Lord, Lord,” he is going to say to those who continued in deliberate and habitual sin that he never knew them, and that they are to depart from him. So, we need to take this seriously because our Lord means business!

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

Psalms 16:5-6 ESV

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us. And when Jesus shed his blood for us, it was to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now be God’s possession, and so we would now honor God with our lives (1 Pet 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20).

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him that he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to (save) our old lives (of living for self and in sin) that we will lose them for eternity. But he said if we lose our lives (die with him daily to sin and to self) for his sake, that we will live for eternity (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2).

Jesus didn’t die that horrible death on the cross just so we could be forgiven of our sins and have heaven as our eternal destiny. And he definitely did not die to forgive us our sins so that we can now go on living in habitual sin without conscience, without guilt, and free from the punishment of sin. In his death he put our sins to death with him so that we would be free from our slavery (practice) to sin and so we would be slaves of righteousness.

So, if Jesus is our chosen portion and cup, we have been crucified with him in death to sin and we have been raised with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Now we walk (in practice) no longer according to our flesh but now according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, in submission to Christ as Lord. Now our desire is for HIM to do his will because we love HIM.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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