So often, we as believers demonstrate the act of faith outwardly, but are really lacking in faith inwardly. We need to do more than just ritual displays of faith and actively seek God daily. He is almighty and all powerful and desires for us to believe in Him, so He can show up mightily on our behalf.
In 1 Samuel we learn of the terrible loss the Israelites experienced at the hands of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 4:2-4 (NKJV) says,
“Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field. And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”
The Israelites did not regard the Lord, but treated the Ark as a lucky charm and hoped that simply bringing it among them would save them.
Samson, in Judges 16, made a similar assumption when his hair was cut. He was living in sin with the Philistine woman, Delilah. She said to him:
“‘And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20 NKJV)
Samson’s heart was hardened by his own sin. He was no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit and, not being aware that the Lord had left him, assumed he would still have his great power and free himself.
If God left you tomorrow, would you notice? How many churches in this country would continue to sing, hold service, and worship outwardly without even noticing if God’s presence had left them?
There is an example of this kind of presumption of God’s favor in the New Testament as well. In the book of Acts, the sons of Sceva, who did not believe in Jesus, tried to call on His name to cast out demons. The demons were unaffected:
“And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (Acts 19:15-16 ESV)
All these brutal defeats happened because these people presumed that God was going to favor them even though they were not truly seeking Him. The sons of Sceva knew of the past victories God had done for others and Samson took for granted all of the great things he had previously done. Their pride and self-entitlment led to their defeat…such as with the Isrealites.
God had glorified Himself in the past by giving the Israelites great victory over their enemies, but not this time! Although the reputation of the God of Israel was great throughout the Middle East, God still allowed the Israelites to be defeated because they did not regard Him.
God doesn’t need us to keep His name great, He does that all on His own! When we are out of order, He will put us back in our place and defeat the enemy without us. He demonstrated this after the Philistines captured the Ark and placed it in the temple of their false god, Dagon. The morning when they woke up, the statue had been toppled over. And the following day, the statues head and hands had been removed (1 Samuel 5:3-4).
These men got in their own way and were defeated because they stopped doing the very thing that caused them to be victorious in the first place…seek and honor the Almighty God.
God is a good God and He wants to do great things through us. Yet, if all we display are ritualaistic actions instead of true inward faith, worship, and honor, He will move on without us. In this time of so little regard for God, we need to resolve within ourselves that we need Him and we cannot win in this life without Him.
Living in His Grace and Peace,
Dr. Derek Grier
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