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 these warnings:
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)