Jim over at DoneWithReligion.com posted about New Year’s resolutions and how as believers, we are already a new creation, so, what’s to resolve? His post was all the convincing I needed to abandon my resolution to exercise and lose weight in 2016! So thanks, Jim! 😉
Seriously, I had been thinking about a resolution for the new year; specifically, to focus more on Jesus and less on the religious system I left behind. In what I’m sure is the Lord’s leading, I’ve been considering Lot’s wife, who couldn’t keep her eyes on where she was going, but instead looked back and paid for it with her life. While there is no mention in scripture of why Lot’s wife looked back, the Hebrew word for “looked” (H5027*) means to “regard with pleasure, favor or care.” The simplest explanation is she not only disobeyed God’s command “do not look back”, she looked favorably upon that which God considered grievously sinful (Genesis 18:20), thereby putting her in opposition to God. For that, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
There is no particular pleasure for me in “looking back” at the religious system I left behind. Sometimes it has been the wounds of the past that sparked my writing as I sought to heal them; others it is the loneliness of this walk when my thoughts turn to those I left behind and who remain in religious bondage. Would that I could convince them to come out into liberty in Christ, but that has always been up to the Lord (Revelation 18:4). Certainly the practices and teachings common to man’s traditional church provide an abundance of blog-fodder, but is it necessary or even productive to expose and correct their every error?
Christ is NOT found in correcting bad doctrine. Nor is He found in looking back.
So why write about it at all? Or about man’s traditional church? What value is there in that? Pondering these questions, I had the most sobering thought. What if Lot had started a blog and called it “Escape from Sodom”? Imagine the things Lot could have written about; the innumerable ways in which Sodom fell short of the Glory of God. Readers captivated by Lot’s first-hand accounts of the sin and wickedness in Sodom, punished by fire and brimstone seemingly hurled to earth by the very hand of God. What a horrifying and captivating blog that would have been!
But would there be any life in that? Is it fruit bearing? Is there fellowship to be found in what amounts to gathering around a smoldering ruins; whether it be Sodom or religious Babylon whose fate is like that of Sodom (Revelation 18). There is neither light nor life in looking back. It is written:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
These are worthy of our focus, for they are reflections of the pure light that is Christ. Strangely, a smoldering ruin gives off light and perhaps that is the fascination; but it is not the light of holiness, it is the light given off by God’s consuming fire provoked unto wrath by sin and wickedness (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29). The light of Christ is pure and lovely; the other is darkened by billows of smoke and the acrid smell of sulfur. The one illuminates the way forward into everlasting life; the other marks the penalty for wickedness when the grace of God has been exhausted. The one is beautiful to behold; the other an abomination from which God turns away.
If there is any value in writing about the things that lay behind me, it is for encouraging those whom the Spirit of God is liberating from bondage, for surely, those first few steps out of religious Babylon are fraught with heartache and uncertainty. There is comfort and reassurance in the testimony of those who have made their escape before and who have left their mark along the way. But I can’t say I’ve found healing in writing about my wounds or those who inflicted them. Nor is there any reward in such writing, other than to “get it off my chest”.
Some are able to cast off their bonds, drop them in place without a second thought and walk on. Others must examine that which held them captive and stomp them into the ground. That would be me and frankly, I’m tired of stomping.
In this new year, I need a new vision. My eyes, my mind and thoughts must be retrained to focus on what lies ahead.
… let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end… (Hebrews 12:1-2 GNB)
As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32 ISV)
It is Jesus I want to focus on and Jesus who must be lifted up in this world. I want to walk in the light with Jesus and know blessed COMMUNION with Him and the brethren.
If we say that we have fellowship (G2842*) with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light (G5457*), as he is in the light (G5457*), we have fellowship (G2842*) one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7 KJV+)
Dear Lord, forgive me for looking back to the darkness from which you led me. Please show me to the light and lead me by your light. Train me to focus on you, to walk in the light and remain with you. Amen.
ADDENDUM: When I wrote this a few weeks ago and scheduled it for publication, I was wearied by the number of posts I’ve written having to do with coming out of and destroying the false teachings of religious Babylon. I was, on account of pondering Lot’s wife, feeling guilty because it seems as if I’ve been focusing on the past. Just now, the Lord led me to a passage from Paul in which he writes “… we are not waging war according to the flesh … we destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ …” (2Co 10:3-6). His Spirit confirms to my spirit that this is what I have been doing. This is a time of warfare, of waking the sleeper and casting off every hindrance to ready the Lord’s bride. The day will come when we shall see Him face to face; that is the day I was longing for when I wrote this originally.
A primitive root; to scan, that is, look intently at; by implication to regard with pleasure, favor or care: – (cause to) behold, consider, look (down), regard, have respect, see.
STRONG’S: From G2844; partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: – (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship.
THAYER’S: 1) fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse, the share which one has in anything, participation, intercourse, fellowship, intimacy
STRONG’S: From an obsoleteφάω phaō (to shine or make manifest, especially by rays; compare G5316 and G5346); luminousness (in the widest application, natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative): – fire, light.
THAYER’S: Light; 1) the light emitted by a lamp; a heavenly light such as surrounds angels when they appear on earth; anything emitting light; a star, fire because it is light and sheds light, a lamp or torch; light, i.e brightness of a lamp; 2) (metaphorically) God is light because light has the extremely delicate, subtle, pure, brilliant quality of truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it; that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly reason, mind, the power of understanding especially moral and spiritual truth.