Our spiritual lives can feel great, our church is a blessing and heaven is close by.
But then at other times, we seem to stagger around in the dark and God seems far, far away.
The smallest things trip us up and ensnare us.
Noah was a giant in the faith, a true man of God but we see in the biblical record how he slipped up…
1. Noah, man of God, consistent with God but…
You would have thought that Noah would have had no problem with being consistent with God.
But look at this!
Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.Genesis 9:21 NIV
When he drank some of it’s wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.“
After such a mighty deliverance, you would have thought it was all plain sailing from now on – excuse the pun!
A mighty victory had been won, Noah had;
- fought the battles of doubt through all the time the Ark was being built
- spent a lot of money and time on building it
- resisted all the mocking and abuse he received for building a boat on dry land
- overcame his fear while confined to the Ark
- waited patiently until the earth dried enough to release all the animals from the Ark.
‘Well,’ he must have thought, ‘that all worked out rather well. Mission accomplished! I can sit back, and take things easier now!’
But as soon as he trusted in himself he slipped up.
2. Did the early church stay consistent with God?
The apostle Paul spoke very strongly to the Galatian church, who started in faith, but then they relied upon themselves to keep God’s Laws:
You foolish Galations!Galatians 3:1-3 NIV
Who has bewitched you?
Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
I would like to learn just one thing from you:
Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law, or by believing what you heard?
Are you so foolish?
After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
There is the key: “Are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?“
The whole emphasis of salvation in Christ is that we are incapable of achieving our goal, but through Christ, God will accomplish it.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ.“2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
3. Was Hezekiah consistent with God?
Who was King Hezekiah, let’s look briefly at his life. Christianity.com gives an overview:
Righteous Hezekiah, who lived from 721-691 B.C., was the son of the ungodly king Ahaz…‘The Bible Story of Hezekiah and His Significance Today’ Christianity.com 1
Hezekiah became the king of Judah at the age of twenty-five and reigned in Jerusalem for 29 years.
A faithful worshipper of the True God, Hezekiah reopened the Temple of Solomon (2 Chronicles 20:3). At the occurrence of Passover, to which he gathered all the subjects of the kingdom of Israel, Hezekiah gave directives to eradicate the idols throughout his kingdom, warning his people of the retributions which befell their ancestors for abandoning the True God.
After this, idolatry stopped not only in the kingdom of Judah but also in many areas in the kingdom of Israel.
Therefore, God delivered him from his enemies and answered his prayers.
In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, the Assyrian king Sennacherib, son of Salmanassar, having defeated Israel, assembled his forces to make war upon Hezekiah…
As he laid the Assyrian’s letter before the Lord, he prayed a humble, powerful supplication of faith, pleading for deliverance so all the kingdoms would know that the Lord alone is God (2 Kings 19:19).
Hezekiah recognized it was not his own reputation that was at stake; it was God’s.
A second response came from Isaiah: Assyria would never enter Jerusalem. The city would be spared (2 Kings 19:32-34).”
But like any one of us, he was not consistent and he slipped up:
In those days Hezekiah became ill, and was at the point of death.2 Chronicles 32:24 NIV
He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign.
But Hezekiah’s heart was proud, and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him.”
The sign given to King Hezekiah was that the Lord moved the sun’s shadow back ten steps (2 Kings 11:20).
The Lord was angry with Hezekiah (‘wrath was on him’), but this is not anger against an enemy, it was corrective and not destructive.
So we can see the Lord’s discipline was upon him and so Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart.
The sign of the sun going back baffled people and the superpower came to King Hezekiah to ask him about the sign:
But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon, to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him, and to know everything that was in his heart.”2 Chronicles 32:31 NIV
Do you find that interesting, that God left him to test what was in his heart?
Obviously, the Lord knew exactly what was hidden in Hezekiah’s heart, but it needed to be brought out so that it could be recognised and confessed.
4. How to be consistent as a Christian
We can come through a long battle, (or a dramatic short battle), and then sit back, and start to trust in our own strength.
In our everyday life, we can sometimes become proud of our achievements and so we end up trusting in ourselves.
Or there is a subtle temptation to start relying upon our routines and practices.
When that happens it is like trying to push a car up a hill.
Everything becomes tedious and dry and God seems far away.
It is very easy to go through all the motions – attend church, prayer meetings, play Christian music, and yet the fire in our hearts has possibly died down.
We start to slip up and sin makes inroads into our lives.
Perhaps we’ve known a time like that, or maybe we’re in it now.
The Lord wants us to come to our senses, stop trusting in ourselves, and turn to Him and trust Jesus Christ.
Remember the verse:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ.”2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
The secret to being consistent with God is to realise that we are not the powerhouse to get us through, God’s Spirit and Jesus are our strength and our righteousness.
The next verse states:
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.“2 Corinthians 1:21 NIV
All the promises in the Bible are ours by trusting in Christ. Paul said:
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, to will, and to act, according to His good purpose.”Philippians 2:12 NIV
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