Whose Mold Are You In?
While there are many differences between Israel’s spiritual experience in the Old Testament and that of the church in the New Testament, here is an important one: the church is made up of people who become believers after being part of a pagan culture. Believers in Christ come out of a pagan, non-Christian life and learn to live as Christians. On the other hand, Israel was prepared by God to move into a pagan environment as believers. They were taken out of Egypt and then instructed by God in the desert before moving in and confronting a very pagan and immoral group of tribes in the Promised Land.
The famous rendering of Romans 12:2 by the J.B. Philips New Testament— “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold”—was perfect for the Christians in Rome. They were surrounded by a pagan culture, susceptible to the pressure all around them to revert to their pre-Christian lifestyle. Israel, however, was about to move from the desert into an arena (Canaan) where they would encounter many vile practices—especially in the realm of sexual immorality and perversion. God’s basic instruction to his chosen people in Leviticus 18 was this: “When you enter Canaan, your jaws are going to drop. You’re not going to believe some of their practices. They may look enticing, but they are a death trap. If you copy the Canaanite lifestyle and get involved in their perversion, you will disintegrate as a people. Trust me on this; I am the LORD. If you keep what I am about to tell you, you will live. If you do not, you will perish.”
The key element for the Israelites was “trust.” It was not necessary for them to experience sin in order to discover that God’s words bring life. Nor is it necessary for us. If we will take God at His word—“the man who obeys [my words] will live”—then we will never experience the heartache that comes from being squeezed into the world’s mold. Unlike Israel, we are already living in the midst of the world. Obeying God’s word will keep us from dying spiritually in it.
God’s Promise to You: “Obey my words and you will be spared the world’s heartache.”
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