“They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned their practices, and served their idols which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan…”Psalm 106: 36-39
The Lord commanded the people of Israel to destroy all the nations that resided in the promised land. He knew that not doing so would lead to their ruin; they must be ruthless with these people or they will ultimately be destroyed.
As believers we are told over and over to rid ourselves of sin; to be ruthless with evil, as the Sons of Israel were commanded to be with these pagan nations:
“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” 1 Peter 2:1
”So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” Col. 3:5-8
“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James 1:21
We are given these commands for our good. Unlike the sons of Israel, we have the same power that rose Christ from the dead dwelling within us, the Spirit of God who gives us EVERYTHING we need for life and godliness. We also have the vision of the cross, God’s great love and judgement on display as Christ was pierced through for OUR transgressions and crushed for OUR iniquities, to motivate us. Our obedience is fueled by this grace.
Yet we are no different from the Israelites. We spurn God, engage in evil, grumble, doubt Him and offer our lives to idols. That is why repentance should color every moment of every day in the Christian life. We should be more aware of our shortcomings, and through that more aware of God’s great mercy and love towards us.
Yet, too often there are unrepented sins. What about those? Can we get away with “mingling” with evil behavior just like the sons of Israel mingled with the people in the promised land? Sin does not exist in a vacuum; you cannot live in unrepented sin without experiencing the consequences. Pride, fear, shame, arrogance—whatever it may be that prevents us from confessing and repenting from our sin, is more destructive and deadly than we can ever imagine.
We may be horrified at the extent of the Israelites rebellion, going so far that they were willing to sacrifice their own children on altars to the idols of the peoples they did not destroy. Yet have we ever considered this may be what we do when we live in a pattern of unrepented, secret sin?
When we press “repeat” on entertaining evil desires that lead us to engage in sinful activities, and then refuse to repent, we are in effect l saying: “this idol means so much to me I am willing to sacrifice anything for it.” It is as if we were placing those we love—our family, our children, our spouses, our community, our churches—on an altar to our idol. The seriousness of sin cannot be lost on us. We must repent.
These idols are greedy and will take everything we have, not for our good but for our ruin. God is jealous for our affections and our lives, not for our ruin but for our good.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” Acts 3:19