Breaking the Cycle
Intro: The Old Testament is filled with stories of the people of Israel. From the time God brought them out of Egypt, the people of God were seemingly caught up in a non-stop cycle. It wasn’t just one time period, or one tribe, or one generation. It was a cycle that went on for hundreds of years.
A. Defined Expectation – vs. 1-3; 5
God would clearly lay out His law, His demands, His boundaries.
B. Delightful Existence – vs. 4-8
They were alive because of God. – vs. 4
They had a testimony of a great nation. – vs. 6
They enjoyed God’s blessings, provision, victory in battle, etc.
C. Dissatisfied Experimentation – vs. 9-15
They would always start looking at the world; the pagans; the heathen; the ungodly.
They would fail to take heed to themselves. – vs. 9
They would forget what God had done. – vs. 9
They failed to teach them to their children. – vs. 9
D. Disobedient Exaltation – vs. 16-19
They would commit the sin of idolatry EVERY SINGLE TIME.
They would begin to worship the gods of the people around them.
Verse 16 – it didn’t matter what it was or who it was; they exalted anything above God.
They would worship and serve anything and anybody BUT GOD!
E. Disciplinary Experience – vs. 20-28
God would punish them; send plagues; judgment; oppression
Look at Joshua 23:12-16
F. Delivering Exhortation – vs. 29-31
God would send a prophet or a man of God to confront them to show them how to get right.
G. Diligent Examination – vs. 32-40
…if thou SEEK THE LORD…
They would acknowledge their sin; repent and get right with God.
The cycle would continue.
Today, that same cycle seems to be playing in in many Christians lives.
The cycle of hot and cold; off and on; faithful and unfaithful; believing and doubting; obedience and disobedience.
What can a Christian do today to stop the vicious cycle in their own life?
It should be our desire to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding.
Not off and on; in and out; right with God and then under the judgment of God.
How can we break that cycle of inconsistency and instability
I. An Appreciation for a Sovereign Inheritance – vs. 20
Israel was chosen by God.
He brought them out of the iron furnace, even Egypt.
Romans 9 makes it clear – God had Sovereign authority over Israel.
He had right; the power; the authority to do what He wanted to do with them.
- SEE Romans 9:20, 21
Israel was God’s inheritance. – vs. 20
God blessed Israel with an inheritance. – vs. 21
Yet they were not grateful; they were not appreciative.
In fact, the Bible says:
- Numbers 11:20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
God has chosen us in Christ as an inheritance.
Taking that for granted is the beginning of becoming backslidden.
II. An Acceptance of a Spiritual Identity – vs. 32-38
The problem with Israel was they didn’t appreciate the exclusive identity they had.
God had done things for them He had never done before or has He done since.
What was their response? They wanted to be like all the other nations.
SEE I Samuel 8:5, 19, 20
They were not grateful to be God’s chosen people.
That was a burden to them; something to be alleviated.
Likewise, the problem with Christians is a lack of appreciation for the distinct identity that God intends for His people.
- 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
2 Corinthians 6
- 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
- 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
- 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
- 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
- 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
- John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
III. An Abstaining from Sinful Indulgence – vs. 39, 40
Their path was clear – keep his statues and his commandments.
They were not content living within God’s boundaries.
That is many people’s problem today.
They allow their own lusts and desires to dicate the path they take; not God’s Word.
- 1 Peter 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Once you give in to the lusts, the appetite grows for more sin; not less.
Make no mistake. Satan will always produce an alternative to God’s will.
- Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
ILLUSTRATION: Instead of standing at the foot of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, staring at the forbidden fruit, go eat of the other 10 million fruit trees on the planet that are NOT forbidden!
Stop complaining about all the things you aren’t supposed to do.
Stop whining about the rules and restrictions.
Rejoice in all the wonderful things that God allows us to be a part of.
The list of things that a child of God can do and enjoy and participate in are far greater than the list of things that God has refused to sanction.
I Peter 1
- 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
- 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
- 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
- 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
Conclusion: Once you and I understand God’s right to us, our identity as believers and the seriousness of giving into sinful lusts, we can stop the cycle of hot and cold; off and on; faithful and unfaithful; believing and doubting; obedience and disobedience.
Break the Cycle – Part 2
Intro: This is not a message on how to experience revival in the church.
This is not a message on how the church can restore its credibility in our nation.
This is not a message on how the church can bring about national revival.
This is not a message designed to further world evangelism and reach every nation.
This message is to help you stop being the devil’s yo-yo.
This is to help stop the spiritual rollercoaster you’ve been living on for years.
By the way – if Christians could break this cycle, the church WOULD experience revival.
The church would be a force that God could use to change the nation.
We would reach the world with the Gospel.
If we could just break this cycle of carnality and spirituality.
NOTE: This cycle is not always a long process.
In fact, sometimes it goes from step 1 to step 4 in just a few days.
Example: The cycle found in Exodus 19:3-6.
- God reminded them of His Expectations – vs. 5
- God reminded them of their IDENTITY – vs. 5
- God reminded them of their INHERITANCE – vs.6
- God warned them of SINFUL INDULGENCE – vs. 10 – sanctify yourself and wash your clothes
- God warned them repeatedly – vs. 11, 12 – then again vs. 20-25
Their response – “All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.”
Went back up alone in Exodus 24:12-18 for 40 days.
Came back down in Exodus 32 to find them worshipping false gods.
The cycle continued: God’s judgment Exodus 32:27-35.
They mourned and were sorry – Exodus 33:2-6
God reminded them of his mercy and grace and longsuffering – Exodus 34
Moses prayed that they would remain His Inheritance – Exodus 34:9
God repeated His expectations – Exodus 34:10-28
IV. An Aversion to Secular Influence
The chasm between the church and the world has never been greater and deeper.
The divide is impossible to ignore.
The problem is many churches are merging the two.
ILLUSTRATION: Nehemiah was upset over the news of the gates and the walls being destroyed.
They had LOST THEIR INHERITANCE.
They had LOST THEIR IDENTITY.
They were now vulnerable to INFILTRATION.
The Old Testament comparison of this in the days of Israel was intermarrying with the heathen.
Forbidden in Joshua 23:
- 11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.
- 12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:
- 13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
Intermarrying addressed in Nehemiah 13:23-29.
Note Nehemiah’s shock and anger. See also Ezra 9:1-4
Several points of reference:
Ammon and Moab were pictures of the flesh. (See end of Genesis 19 – incestuous sons of Lot)
Ashdod was the city where the temple of Dagon was located.
The walls and the gates being destroyed were symbolic examples of the reality of the nation.
V. An Awareness of Satanic Infiltration
- 2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
- 1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
VI. An Awakening of Sorrowful Indignation
It’s time to get mad.
It’s time wake up.
It’s time to get revenge.
The devil is carpet bombing your home, and you’re buying him the bombs.
He’s lobbing grenades into your mind and you’re putting up no resistance.
He’s stealing your peace, your testimony, your marriage, your kids, and you’re still playing games.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians made them sorrowful.
But not a “fall down in the floor and feel sorry for yourself” kind of sorrow.
It stirred up their indignation at the magnitude of their weakness and vulnerabilities.
Notice what happened.
2 Corinthians 7
- 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
- 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
- 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Notice the results of Paul’s letter of rebuke:
- Godly sorrow
- Carefulness – to give all diligence, interest in one’s self most earnestly (not half-hearted)
- Clearing – verbal defense, speech in defense GREEK – apologia
- Indignation – irritation, vexation
- Fear – Greek: phobos
- Vehement desire – longing; hunger
- Zeal – excitement of mind, ardor, fervor of spirit
- Revenge – punishment; justice