• Hello, I am Pat Domangue, founder of On Fire Ministries.
o Welcome to our Quest For Wholeness Podcast series
o QFW blog series each week as well
The blog and podcast can both be found at our web-site, www.onfire-ministries.org
Also there you will find a podcast guide you can download and print out as a reference.
• My daughter Taylor is joining me as we are walking through this journey seeking God for wholeness. This is our 5th podcast in our series.
o We have identified wholeness as our Promised Land.
o We have identified valuable lessons from Scripture and from a professional counseling stand to help us on our journey.
• Today we are going to see some OT lessons that warn us about dangers to our quest for wholeness – hindrances to our relationship with God that may hinder us from entering the Promised land just as it did the Israelites.
• Why? God promises the Promised Land to those who obey.
• So we ultimately will be looking at the fear of the Lord.
Today’s podcast guide has a list of proverbs that speak of the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 1:7 & 29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26 & 27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 29:25
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD
Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
Prov. 14:26 – 27
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.
Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
Thesaurusm – Antonym
Prov. 29:25 – The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.
We don’t speak of the fear of the Lord much, but if the Bible identifies the fear of the Lord as much as it does, we must acknowledge there is a need for some healthy fear of the Lord in our life.
Taylor, I think we can have a healthy fear or an unhealthy fear of the Lord. How do you say we distinguish between the two and hold on to a healthy fear of the Lord?
– I definitely agree. I believe that a healthy and unhealthy fear of the Lord all has to do with how you see God. Do see him as a God that is full or wrath or justice or a God of love and mercy?
– The fact is that God is both, but God’s Word is very clear that God’s wrath is not poured out on Christ followers because Christ already took that wrath for us.
– We should have fear of the Lord, but not fear that debilitates us.
– I think this can be much easily understood when looked at from a parent-child relationship.
– Once you become a parent, fear is a very natural instinct that kicks in once (and even before) this child enters the world.
-Fear is very much needed. As a parent, it helps you make smart decisions. It makes you be picky about the type of people you allow your children around, the activities your child engages in, and etc.
– For instance, due to fear of your child being run over in the road. You will not allow them to play in the road due to a very high likelihood that they will get hit.
-Fear played an important role because it helped you make a smart decision. In the same way, we don’t engage in certain activities that we know go against God’s will due to us knowing that we will have to stand before him in judgment one day.
– On the other hand, if you have so much fear that it debilitates you it has a negative affect on your life and your child’s.
– For example, If fear keeps you from ever allowing anybody else to take care of your child, even people you trust, then it will have negative consequences. You will probably be extremely tired, and your marriage will probably suffer as well.
– Fear is a good thing that we should have when it comes to our relationship with God and how we parent our children, but when fear overtakes us and it makes us make negative decisions that is when we have a unhealthy relationship with fear.
History of Israel from Saul to Hosea
• After Israel entered their promised land, Israel had become a kingdom ruled by kings. Their first king had been Saul, then David, then David’s son, Solomon. Israel became a divided kingdom upon Solomon’s death and Solomon’s son, Rehoboam took his place.
• King Rehoboam was excessively greedy and oppressed the people of Israel with taxes. When the people complained, he rejected Solomon’s advisers to lighten the burden, but ruthlessly increased the people’s burden.
• This caused rebellion and ultimately the kingdom of Israel divided into a northern kingdom and southern kingdom.
o Jeroboam became king of the Northern kingdom of Israel.
o Rehoboam became king of the Southern Kingdom of Israel.
Why does the history of Israel matter to us in our quest for wholeness?
Because the Northern kingdom of Israel was so impacted by the evil leadership of Jeroboam that throughout their next nineteen kings – Every king from the North did evil in the sight of the Lord. Most of the time in the OT, it is recorded that these evil kings did what they did based on the fact that they were following in the ways of Jeroboam.
In our earlier podcasts we discussed how Joshua and the Israelites had to disconnect from their link to their past to move forward into their Promised Land. Once again Israel needed to disconnect from their link to the past. There was a cycle of sin in Israel linked to the past ways and leadership of a king who in every way led Israel to reject God.
We must focus on breaking cycles of sin or rejection of God’s ways in our life. Because ultimately a cycle of sin left unchecked and unrestrained in our life can do to us what it did to Israel, lead us into captivity to suffer under the rule of our enemy.
Taylor, how do you see this cycle of sin in your counseling practice? Do you see that a cycle of sin actual can lead someone to being controlled by the enemy?
-Oh definitely! I have seen many good people make decisions that they would never had made.
– I have seen Christian people justify behaviors that go in complete disobedience of God’s Word and they know it.
– Sin is a very dangerous thing, and I believe it is something that we should fear but so often we don’t
– The thing about the cycle of sin is that it is slow and it takes you down a dangerous path slowly.
-The fact is that if you don’t wake up to the path that you are on you will find yourself doing things that you never thought you were capable of and you don’t even realize that is what you are doing.
Let’s look at a specific place in Scripture, 2 Kings 17:7-14 .
For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”
(vs. 13) Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.
• We can see the nation of Israel had turned against God and his ways. But something very significant to me is in verse 13 where we see that even in the midst of their rejection and sin, God and His Word were accessible to His people. Then God sent His word by all the prophets.
• God and His word are still accessible to His people today. Really like never before. I gathered up every bible in my house to take with me to teach this very point and I filled up my largest piece of luggage in my house with Bibles. I just about have at least one Bible of every version and translation there is today. I also have the Bible on audio, my cell phone, and my computer.
• At times, I think we might be like Israel, God and His word are accessible to us like never before, yet we really don’t’ want to hear what God has to say. The problem is, that will ultimately lead us to a place we don’t want to be.
• Israel’s cycle of sin was progressive and any cycle of sin we get into will also be progressive. Why? Because sin is progressive. It grows.
• James 1:15 says, “Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. – That is progressive!
• So let’s look at the fact that the first step of Israel’s progressive cycle of sin was that they would not hear God and think about their story related to us.
What do you think Taylor?
The Progressive Cycle of Israel’s Sin & Possibly our sin as well.
1. They would not hear Him.
o Our first sin is always the second look. God’s word is clear that being tempted is not a sin; we will all be tempted at some point. It is when we are tempted and we follow the temptation that we are sinning. This is also where the process of Desensitization comes into play.
o Desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. This is a dangerous and slow process. Nobody wakes up and decides that they are going to become addicted to drugs or have an affair. It starts with small things and being willing to entertain the small sins which will not stay small for long. This in turn deafens our ears to hear from God and his spirit when we are going in a dangerous direction.
Taylor, I am just curious, how you might see this desensitization process play out in your counseling practice. What might be a real life scenario that you would have to address in your counseling practice?
-Desentization is a tricky thing, because often you don’t realize that you are being desentized.
– I have seen situations where individuals are doing something like taking drugs and making excuses for their behavior. People engaging in relationships that they shouldn’t.
– For me this process doesn’t even have to be doing something bad; it can be the unwillingness to do something good.
– Comfort zones are something that I see so many people stuck in my practice, and they don’t know how to get out.
– They have little by little been desentized to believe that comfort is better than working hard to be a happy, healthy individual, because happiness isn’t something that just happens; we have to be willing to work for it.
2 Kings 7:15-18
And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them. So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.
So the first step of Isreal’s progressive cycle of sin was that they would not hear God and the next step was that – They rejected God’s statutes and covenant.
• The next thing that we do after we have become desentized is we start making excuses and justifying the sin. We start saying things like “this isn’t hurting anybody & nobody has to find out”. This is usually right where Satan wants you. Satan works very easily and quickly in the places that we keep hidden from other people. We look at God’s Word that is very blatant about many areas but also has many gray areas. For the areas that are very blatant, we will start making excuses like this Bible is outdated and not connected to modern times. The easiest place to sin is in those gray areas because in those gray areas is where our relationship with God is necessary to help us make the right decisions for us. The thing is that in the first step we stop hearing from God, so then you are making decisions based on your flesh and what it wants which will always lead to destruction.
I think it is interesting that you said “in the first step, we stop hearing from God.” Don’t you think that the reality is, God hasn’t stopped speaking, we just chose to stop listening. I especially think that is true when I look back on my life when I was trapped in a progressive cycle of sin. Now that I am free from that, I can look back and see very clearly times when God was speaking, calling, drawing me, but I just had my hands out saying, No thank you – not interested.
I truly believe that even in some of my darkest seasons of life, God was still pursing me, but I was not willing to listen.
Definitely! God is always trying to get a hold of us; we just are often too distracted with things that we shouldn’t be to hear from him. When we say something about idols or pagan worship, I believe people often distance themselves from that notion because we aren’t bowing ourselves in front of a golden calf. The fact is though that anything that we put before God is considered an idol. So in other words when we are caught up in that sin cycle we are making idols out of whatever it is we want at that time. We are being pagan worshipers.
1. They would not hear God.
2. They rejected God and His statutes.
3. They followed idols and pagan nations.
• This step is when action comes into play. Before there might have been some flirting with the line that God has for us and we might think about it constantly, but we haven’t yet acted on what our flesh wants. Again this is still something that we are trying to keep a secret from others, because at the end of the day, you know that this isn’t the right thing to be doing.
You know Taylor, I really believe that this slow steady progressive process is a strategic way the devil works. He is okay with us taking one step at a time into sin, as long as that is the direction we are going because every step toward sin is our stepping one step further from God. So every step we take toward sin is widening the gap between us and God.
That’s why we see that Israel would not hear God, then they rejected God and His ways, then they followed after other god, and finally we see that they left all the commandments. They made, served, and worshipped other gods & practiced excessively depraved evil ways. 2 Kings 17:17 says, And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
Talk about ending up in a bad place. They were definitely desensitized! Even to the point that they did not even care how their sin was hurting their children!
• I have seen many people and heard many stories about good Christian people that have gone off the deep end. They do these things that you didn’t think that anyone would be capable of, and the fact is they never thought that they would be capable of it either. At this point though, their mind is wrapped up in the sin, and they are not able to see the destruction that not only they are doing to their own lives but to their family and friend’s lives as well.
• This was probably a very scary depiction of how sin can destroy lives, but it is true and I have seen it play out in people’s lives. The great thing is that we make the decision about the kind of person we are going to be, and we have a God that works very hard to keep His people out of this cycle. God can interject and change lives in any four areas of this cycle.
Amen! That is so true! I am so glad that God is always calling and drawing us, even when we have gotten caught in a cycle of sin. I have been set free from many cycles of sin and if He would set me free from the cycles of sin I have been a part of I know He will set anyone free from their cycles of sin too! God is good and He loves us even when we mess up and He loves us even when we mess up over and over again.
We want to encourage you to seek God for that help and if you feel like you need help in a certain area, get Christian counseling. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help to navigate through the difficult waters of seeking freedom from a cycle of sin!
If you are in our local region, I of course recommend you giving Taylor a call at the Christian Counseling Center at White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, West Monroe, LA. Let her help you as you seek to experience freedom!
Also don’t forget, we want to hear from you. How has this helped you or what do you want us to address in future podcasts? Contact me through our web-site at www.onfire-ministries.org .
Until next time, be blessed and seek God because He loves you!