Volume 1, Issue 3
“And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they have wrought, in that they have turned unto other gods.”
APOSTASY Part III “Its Progression and Warning”
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils...” 1 Timothy 4:1
Like all other historical departures from the Holy Scriptures, the apostasy we face today has not occurred overnight. Every act of departure from the Truth comes over a period of time. Whether it is a personal departure, or a corporate departure, it is established by degrees. Apostasy’s progression is gradual and systematic, and if not checked, leads to grievous and great consequence. Apostasy often creeps in unawares, takes root downward, and eventually springs forth upward, where it eventually manifests itself openly.
In the case studies of Scripture, as it deals with the nation of Israel, we find a clear and detailed pattern leading up to apostasy. In order for us to remedy our departure from God’s Word we must first see clearly how we have strayed. In Deuteronomy 31:16-20 God anticipates Israel’s apostasy from the Truth.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go [to be] among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God [is] not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.
Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and
break my Covenant.”
(Deuteronomy 31:16-20 AV)
God testifies that after the death of Moses, Israel will rise up and turn themselves unto other gods. It is important to realize that this idolatrous departure from God comes after Israel is gloriously delivered out from the bondage of Pharaoh, and after they are brought into the promised land. v20
The question raised then is “how?” How could a people be so blind as to not recognize the hand of the Lord upon them for their good? What is perhaps more astounding is that upon several occasions Israel was specifically warned against falling prey to idolatry, yet in spite of those warnings, ran headlong into all manner of terrible godlessness. God consistently warned against their rebellion as an attempt to teach them of their proneness to fall.
“But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, [and that] ye shall not prolong [your] days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
(Deuteronomy 30:17-19 AV)
A Universal Warning
Because God is the God of Truth and His realm exists both in and outside of time, His precepts are universal. In other words, the very same warning He gave to Israel, He gives to the New Testament Church. These warnings from Deuteronomy, or from any portion of Holy Scripture for that matter, are not particular to ancient Israel. In fact, Israel is a representation of the Christian Church of every age. In this way, by the use of historical types and figures, God instructs His people and solidifies His principles.
Thus, the very same proneness to idolatry and rebellion that befell Israel can and will befall us. Likewise, the very same consequences found in Deuteronomy 28, 30 and 31 will be imposed upon us if we fail to remain obedient to the Covenant and serve the living and One True God.
Not Of Works
The regeneration of the soul forever engrafts the individual into the Newness of Life which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 11:24, Romans 6:4) This calling, which is a gift of redeeming Grace, is without repentance. (Romans 11:29, Romans 11:5-6) Once the soul is redeemed and brought into the eternal Covenant, that individual is a sanctified, child of God. (Hebrews 12:23, 1 Corinthians 6:11) When God calls, He saves, and those He saves He upholds. (Hebrews 10:14,Romans 8:1-2, Romans 8:29-39) He never saves and then changes His mind. Salvation is not determined by works. (Romans 4:4, Ephesians 2:9, Titus 3:5, Galatians 3:18) Salvation is entirely of grace. It is entirely by the intervention of the Sovereign God out of electing fore-ordaining love. (Ephesians 1:3-6, Ephesians 2:2-10,Romans 9:16) Furthermore, any hope of attaining, or maintaining, the status of salvation by good works, according to the Law of God, is damnable. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 12:2) It is therefore, His work that is accounted for our righteousness, and not our own. (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
But these doctrines ought to be elementary. What is painfully confusing to many, however, is what part the true child of God plays in his obedience to the Covenant. If the saint of God is destined for heaven by the New and Living Way, which is not of any works whatsoever, how then can he be plagued with the consequences found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28,30,31? Aren’t all sins forgiven for the sake of Christ and by His Blood?
True, for the elect of God, all sins are forgiven for His namesake, and we will never be damned for any disobedience. The nature of the New Birth causes the love of Christ to constrain us, both to be good, and to do good according to the Law of God. cf Psalm 119. But we still sin and rebel. When that happens, God chastens His Holy Covenantal Children. This is an established and fundamental fact.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
(Hebrews 12:6 AV)
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, [so] the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
(Deuteronomy 8:5 AV)
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
(Proverbs 13:24 AV)
God only chastens His Children. He does not chasten the heathen unless they are destined to become His sons and daughters. Therefore, whenever God’s people fail to remain commited to both their office and their Covenant, God brings disciplinary action against them. This is not a form of damnation, but rather a form of restoration. Those who are restored by His loving chastisement are His true sons. Those who are not, were never His in the first place.
The Implications of the Covenant
What God’s people fail to realize is that there is a dual commitment associated in the Covenant relationship between God and His people. After the New Birth, the Children of God are brought into a covenant. If they do righteously they will be blessed, and if they do wickedly they will be punished. It is that simple. These are called the sanction of God. There are both positive, blessed sanctions as well as negative, cursed sanctions. Positive sanctions for obedience, and negative sanctions for rebellion. In other words, there are direct consequences to every action that the Children of God take.
For many people, these are hard sayings, and for this reason are often dismissed. Today’s modern church-goer refuses to embrace a posture of accountability before God. Somehow they believe that grace allows for any and all behavior, whether it conforms to the Holy Scriptures or not.
These principles of Covenant Responsibility are often discounted as obsolete, Old Covenant dispensations, or disavowed as works-mindedness. It is as if those church folk who are dismissing these Truths as non binding, desire God to remain benign in the affairs of men. But God is no respecter of persons. There will always be consequences to every action. Especially those actions of rebellion, and who choose to sin against Grace.
There is a definite order to the fall of any people. Gradual as it may be, it follows a distinct path of decay. The beginning of all Apostasy begins during a time of Blessing. Whenever a people are greatly blessed there is the tendency to forget God. Furthermore, those who are blessed of God are prone to elevate themselves, as if the blessing is from their own hand. Various forms of wealth, for instance, are typical examples. Those who attain certain monetary, religious, political or social gain are tempted into thinking that they have acquired these positions by virtue of who they are, what they have done, or how intelligently they have conducted their affairs. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Since God is the author of all wisdom and understanding, and because He raises up kings and political officers, and He alone gives power to make wealth, God deserves all the credit. Yet, in the heart of deceitful man, man strives for some of the glory. Great comforts produce great pride and arrogance. Whenever God blessed His people He warned them not to forget where the blessings had come from, and to what purpose the blessings were given.
Consider the Command in Exodus 8:1.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
(Exodus 8:1 AV)
Carefully note the reason why God commanded deliverance. It was that His people may serve Him. This is the fundamental reason for our redemption. Moreover, it is the fundamental reason for our existence. Therefore, it follows that whatsoever the LORD blesses His people with, it is to be used as a tool for the service of GOD. We read in Deuteronomy 8:18,
But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for [it is] he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as [it is] this day.
(Deuteronomy 8:18 AV)
Here, again, God makes it perfectly clear that it is He that gives the power to be wealthy, and that the wealth is to be expressly used to further the Kingdom, and establish His Holy Covenant. This imposes a serious stewardship issue upon those church folk who are blessed with wealth of any kind. According to the law of God, the power to gain wealth is only given so as to establish the covenant of God. cf Deut 8:18 Any use contrary to this precept is sacrilege.
The unfortunate attitude of many who have been blessed of God is Godless. The general consensus is that since they have received of God, they may use it to satisfy their lusts upon this earth. While the Church lies desolate and opportunities for the implementation of the Holy Gospel cry to be satisfied, many who are rich stand in the temple thanking God that they are not like the sinners of the world. Cf Luke 18:11
Blessedness brings forgetfulness, slothfulness and presumption. It also brings with it complacency and compromise. In these five sins lie the destruction of the church.
Once the church begins the slide into Apostasy, other abominations begin to fester and take shape. Among them are discontentment, selfishness, lack of devotion to God and His Word, a lethargic execution of religious duties and a distaste for potent preaching. Apostasy dissolves the conviction associated with the Christian’s office of Priest and King. It also seeks to undermine the commission to go into all the world as ambassadors declaring both the Blessing of Grace and the Cursing of Judgment.
In a period of Apostasy, the church simply will not be bothered with engaging the society around them because they are too busy with insignificant church programs. Choir practice and building projects have replaced Reformation Evangelism. During extreme Apostasy, the religion of Jesus Christ turns inwardly, causing the salt to loose it savor.
Another principle regarding the progression of Apostasy is that it always leads to idolatry and bondage. When the people of God become complacent and fat in their good opinions of themselves they are easily led into idolatrous temptations. By vacillating as to their Righteous Standard they quickly fall into sin.
Idolatry comes in many forms, but essentially it is the “bowing down” to anything that is not God. It is also obeying anything that is not commanded by God. When church folk esteem man’s wisdom greater or more authoritative than God’s Holy Word, by definition, this is idolatry.
Idolatry Always leads to Bondage
Idolatry always leads to bondage. Oppression by the enemy is God’s way of dealing with rebellion. He brings those who transgress His Covenant into captivity to their enemies. Historically this occurs time and time again. The bondage and captivity of God’s people by the pagan’s of the world is God’s way of bringing chastisement upon the Covenantal Children.
Because we have played the harlot, we have been brought into a period of severe bondage and captivity. The church has been snared by every wind of doctrine and every godless law of man. It has been taken by the throat and made to grovel in the dust. If we are to ever regain the blessing of God, we must humbly submit to His correcting hand and seek to understand the reasons for our fall. We must cease from playing the harlot. The way back will not be easy, but the Lord will lead us.
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