Round and Round?
Are you making no progress in your Christian Life? Instead you feel that you are going
round in circles? Perhaps you find that you need to continuously confess the same sin? You
tell yourself, and God, that "this is definitely the last time." Yet, somehow
you've said this so many times you can't count the number of vows you've made. What is the
problem? Why is it that some believers seem to never go forward?
This sad condition of circular Christianity can be likened to the wanderings
in the wilderness of God's chosen people, Israel. By His grace the children of God had
been miraculously delivered out of the cruel hands of Pharaoh. They had been redeemed by
the blood of the Passover lamb and were on the way to the Promised Land of Canaan. Through
the Red Sea they went, full of praises and confidence in the power of God. And yet, they
spent the next forty years wandering in the desert, mostly going round and round. The
promised land of victory seemed continually illusive.
Some of the lessons we can learn from these wandering children of God are spelled out
for us in 1Cor 10 which says that "these things happened to them
as examples and were written down as warnings for us. (Vs 11)" Let us examine
1. IDOLATRY - This may sound too basic and crude to even mention to a born-again
Christian. However, as we study the Israelites in their idolatry we discover that this sin
is very easy to fall into. The children of God were continually tempted by this sin
because it was part of their history in Egypt. They had gotten used to the lifestyle
there, and, when the going got tough, the allure of idolatry seemed irresistible. What was
your lifestyle before you committed your life to Christ? Have you made a complete break
with types of idolatry you lived in? Notice that the Israelites "sat down to eat
and drink and got up to indulge..." (Vs 7). Pleasing themselves and satisfying
their sinful appetites became more important than God. No wonder they could not enter the
land of "milk and honey"!
2. SEXUAL IMMORALITY - Part of their fleshly indulgence was satisfying the lusts of the
flesh. We don't read that they were punished so severely whilst still in Egypt. But now
that they had been redeemed and called to a new life of separation to God the sin of
immorality provoked the Lord to anger and "in one day twenty-three thousand of
them died" (Vs 8). Child of God, have you broken with all forms of lust? Any
sexual relations, with others or yourself, outside of marriage, is bound to stop you from
spiritual progress and may even destroy you. The Lord asks you whether you "can scoop
fire into your lap without being burned?" (Prov 6:27).
3. GRUMBLING - Observe the grumbling Christian and you are sure to discover that he never
makes real progress in his own life, even though he is remarkably sharp at pointing out
the problems and sins of others. The sin of complaining is devastating to the Christian
life. See how seriously God considers this sin to be! "And do not grumble, as
some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel." The sin of
complaining is the very opposite of the the commands to "be thankful"
and is a slap in the face of God. It is saying, "God you don't know what you're doing
- you're making a mess of things." Have faith in God and stop complaining!
4. MIXING THINGS - We read in verse 21 that "you cannot drink the cup of the Lord
and the cup of demons too...". Nothing stirs up the anger of God like a
Christian who eats at the table of the Lord and that of devils, at the same time. Christ
prefers a person either hot or cold but never a lukewarm mixture of the two.
Some other reasons:
* Walking by feeling - keeps many a Christian in the wilderness and they never enjoy the
overflowing life of Canaan. They swing like a pendulum in their feelings, one moment
elated, the next down in the dumps. Worse still, they believe their feelings instead of
believing the Word of God. Because of this lack of trust in God and His Word the only
measuring rod of their spiritual state is their feelings. In fact, they have fallen into
idolatry, faith in themselves.
* Fear - holds the wilderness Christian in constant bondage. They're afraid of the present
and terrorized by even the thought of the future. Doubts and fears are always part of
going round and round.
The Christian must repent of these sins mentioned above. Then, He must obey the Word and
leave the wilderness by crossing into Canaan. In Joshua 1 we read of the tremendous
promises of victory. Christ is our Joshua and we can follow Him into the miraculous life
of victory and abundance.
"Be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you;
do not turn from it to the right or to the left,
that you may be successful wherever you go." (Vs 7)
(by Kjell Olsen)
(for further reading see John Wesley's sermon on the