Overcoming the Temptation of Apostasy

Daily Devotion: Day 218 |By Stephen Bilson-Ogoe

‘“LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal”’ (Romans 11:3-4, NKJV).

Paul was concerned about the salvation of his fellow ethnic Israelites. A lot of people today, mostly Christians, have similar concerns. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to address this question once and for all. At the beginning of Romans chapter 11 (see also Romans 6:6-8), Paul deals with the enigma of unbelieving Israel and how God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled. One word explains everything: remnant. Among ethnic Israelites, there is a vast majority which didn’t, and still, does not believe in Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Savior. But God has reserved a remnant who will believe and be saved. Through the saving of the remnant, God would have fulfilled His promises regarding Israel. To explain this point, Paul borrowed an incident from the Old Testament, specifically, 1 Kings chapter 19.

In 1 Kings 18: 20-40, Elijah stirred the hornet’s nest by killing 450 prophets of Baal. At this time in Israel, idolatry had reached its peak. Under the ungodly leadership of Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, almost all of Israel had become apostate, worshipping Baal (pronounced like ‘BAIL;’ plural, Baalim) – a Canaanite and Phoenician god. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He warned them about these gods. But they didn’t listen. After Elijah’s actions, Jezebel vowed to end his life. From that point – fearing for his life – Elijah fled.

Eventually, Elijah became exhausted from fighting for true worship to prevail in Israel. It is at this point that he cried to God, “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But God encouraged Elijah by revealing to him that he wasn’t the only faithful person left in Israel. He said, “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Think about it. Of the hundreds of thousands of people in Israel, only seven thousand people (plus Elijah) were faithful to God and had not been corrupted with Baal worship.

As in other epochs, even today, there is a temptation among God’s people to flow with the majority without critically discerning the spirit of truth (or error). Some assume – mistakenly – that God will not allow the majority to be wrong. But as we have seen, in Elijah’s time the majority was wrong and lost. In our time, too, the purity of God’s Word is gradually being replaced with watered down and ear-tickling versions of the truth. Significant numbers of what today is called ‘church’ have become, or are becoming, apostate – meaning, falling away from the truth (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

The growing influence of the Ecumenical Movement and the push for a one world  (globalized, inter-faith) religion, is a case in point. “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’  and,  “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). And in Revelation 3:4, after describing the church in Sardis as a “dead church,” Jesus says, “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” God is faithful. Just as He preserved seven thousand people during the apostasy of Elijah’s day, so is He reserving for Himself today a remnant of faithful men and women spread around the world.

Today, let us intercede for one another that the Spirit of Truth will preserve us from the spirit of error and deception (1 John 4:4-6).

May God bless and increase you, in the Name of Jesus! Amen.

For further study: 1 Kings 19:1-18

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Stephen

Motivationa speaker and spiritual teacher.

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