Ever since sin entered the world, God’s people have struggled to understand how to interact with those who do not walk in the light. The sons of God intermarried with the daughters of men, and God sent the flood. While Israel was in the wilderness, the men took a liking to the Moabite girls, and when they were invited over for dinner and a sacrifice, idolatry ensued. And God struck down twenty-four thousand in a plague which did not end until Phinehas took a javelin and struck down one Israel man and his new Midianite girlfriend. The sin of intermarrying continued to plague Israel down through the centuries, though God commanded Israel to break down the Canaanite altars, dash in pieces their pillars, and chop down their images and burn them with fire.
Gideon was one exception, a man filled with the Spirit, though it made a bunch of people mad when he and his buddies took down one of Baal’s shrines one night. But Paul’s exhortation was the point then as much as it is today, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Or James who condemns his audience, calling them “adulterers and adultressess” – “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God?” James says that the Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously.
The Spirit is God’s love for us, but like fools, we treat the Spirit cheaply. Rather than cultivating a fierce loyalty and love for God and His people, many Christian young people just try to see how close they can get to Moab before they get struck with a plague. It’s not pornography; it’s art. Sure, the lyrics are pretty scary, but she really is a great musician. It’s not the story I’m into so much as the acting. I’m sure there was at least one Israelite teenager pleading with his dad: It’s not the Moabites I’m into, it’s just the music that’s pretty sweet.
But the Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously. And when we ask the questions: who is your God, who are your people? Many other questions clear up pretty quickly. And this isn’t an argument for monasticism, swearing off everything that the world does or produces. The point is loyalty to the God who saved you, loyalty to His Spirit, and this loyalty drives us to conquest. Which shrine of Baal are you and your friends planning to take down next?