Along with much that is inspiring, beautiful and hopeful, we also encounter some things in the Bible that are haunting and sobering. In Psalm 106, we come across a slice of Israel’s history that is horrid. Instead of obeying God’s command to be distinct and separate from the other nations, the people of God decided they knew better and they 35…mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs. 36 They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall. (106:35, 36 NLT) God had made it clear that they needed to stay distinct, but they were sure they could handle things. The result was that they slowly began adopting the beliefs and behaviors of the surrounding cultures. They even adopted the pagan religious practices so that 37They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. 38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder. 39 They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the LORD’s sight. (106:35-39 NLT)
By disobeying God, the people that He had called, loved and provided for became captive to deception and evil – to the point of believing that sacrificing their children to another God would bring them blessings. The warning here is clear: If God says to do something, then we should do it. If God says not to do something, then we should steer clear of it. Our capacity for rationalizing sin is limitless and our protection is to listen and follow what God says.
God has called His church to live in the world and be a light to those who don’t know God. For our light to shine bright, we need to be fully devoted to follow Him whether the culture around us does or not. Only by trusting and obeying Him will our light be bright. This way we can be positive influencers on the culture around us and fulfill Jesus’ command - …let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16 NLT)