SPIRITUAL DEATH AND OUTWARD RUIN
Date: August 28
Category: Follow God
"When Ephraim spoke with trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended and became guilty in Baal worship, he died [spiritually, and then outward ruin came also, sealing Israel's doom as a nation]."
What a powerful truth! If you have an ear to hear and a heart to accept, then you can learn a lot from this verse. Ephraim was one of the twelve tribes in Israel, but here it is used as a synonym for Israel. It says here, "When Ephraim spoke with trembling, he exalted himself in Israel…" So there was a time when Ephraim was strong, powerful and mighty. There was a time when Ephraim spoke and men trembled. But then something happened that changed all of that. We read in the second part of this verse, "but when he offended and became guilty in Baal worship, he died [spiritually, and then outward ruin came also, sealing Israel's doom as a nation]."
In Israel, Baal worship meant that they worshipped another god. The Baal god was a god of land cultivation. The people who worshipped Baal believed that if they participated in their religious ceremonies around the time they had to work the land, then their land would be fruitful. And that religious practice was sexual promiscuity. So they worshipped Baal by having sex with as many people as they could, thinking that those actions would cause their land to be fertile. This is what Ephraim got involved in. When they worshipped Baal, they became guilty before God. So if you and I focus on a practice of immoral sexuality, then we too will become guilty before God.
Even in our society today, there are still some religions that practice sexual immorality as worship. When I was in my early 20's, I was evangelizing in Germany at an open-air meeting. As I was doing that, I noticed a group of young people that came by. Some of them were dressed very loosely and some were even half naked. There was one particular young woman who was from a group called, "The Children of God." She came up to me and suggested that we have sex together. She said, "Let's make more children of God. We can have sex with anybody as long as we are producing more and more children." That was the screwed idea that she had even in the 20th century. So even today, there are still some religions that focus on sexuality as their form of worship. It's not Biblical in the Old Testament. It's not Biblical in the New Testament, and it isn't Biblical throughout Christian history. It's sin and it will only lead to destruction.
Sexual promiscuity often leads to divorce, sickness, poverty, and eventually death. That's exactly what happened to Ephraim. It says here, "But when he offended and became guilty in Baal worship, he died [spiritually, and then outward ruin came also, sealing Israel's doom as a nation]." So the moment they turned away from God and got involved in Baal worship, they died. It says here that they died spiritually, and then outward ruin came. So ruin doesn't come immediately. Immediately, you die spiritually. Then ruin and destruction comes with time.
When you study the history of Israel in the Old Testament, you can see that the nation often turned away from God and worshipped other gods. When they did that, they died spiritually. When they died spiritually, then destruction came to their lives. Slowly but surely their lives were destroyed because of their disobedience. You can see the same thing in our society as well. Different civilizations have been destroyed because the people disobeyed God and committed sexual immorality which broke down the nucleos of the family unit. So when you disobey God, you don't ruin your life immediately. But right away, you die spiritually. Then comes the physical ruin on your life. For example, when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he didn't die right away. But he died spiritually. Because of that, physical death entered his body as well.
Let's say, for example, you start drinking. Now we know we shouldn't drink, but let's say you disobey God and start drinking anyway. You may start with a social drink once in awhile, but eventually it will turn into more of a habitual thing. But the moment you disobey God and take that drink, your spirit dies. Ruin may not come right away. But eventually destruction will follow as well. You may become an alcoholic; you may get into a car accident; you may destroy your health. All those things eventually lead to physical death. It's the same with every sin. The moment you sin, you die spiritually first. Then the outward ruin will come. That's why sin is so dangerous. Often people don't notice that they're dying until it's too late and physical destruction has already come.
So let us be people who hate sin. Let's be people who obey and please God. I'll finish this teaching with Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." This is the prayer we should pray every day. We should always ask God to search our hearts and lead us in the way everlasting. As long as we hold on to God and please Him, then we will live eternally with Him.