Friday, 31 July 2015

Spiritual Adultery

"They whored after other gods" - Judges 2.17

The main source for this summer blog is going to be the passages I read in my daily Quiet Times as I work through the Bible. One of the blessings of reading through the whole Bible is that you don't get to cherry pick the bits you like. That is why I was brought up short by this verse from Judges. It is particularly stark in the words of the ESV translation of the Bible.

I've never actually counted, but I am pretty confident that the #1 way the Bible speaks of our sin is as adultery. And it is no common or garden adultery - it is a form of adultery that is desperate, repeated and for personal gain. It is whoredom. It is the turning away from God and instead seeking from other things what we can only truly find in him. It is taking all that he has given us, in his abounding grace, and then using those things to worship something else, or even ourselves.

In the Bible, spiritual adultery is always linked to idolatry. In the Old Testament (the part of the Bible leading up to Jesus' birth), that idolatry was obvious. People would make a statue and start to worship it and give it things. They hoped that the god, whose idol it was,would give them security, blessing, purpose. 

Even in the OT though, it was clear that idolatry went further than this and started to include making treaties with nations who did not worship the LORD, rather than trusting in him. By the New Testament (the story of Jesus and his first disciples), idolatry included money and anything else which we might live for, instead of or in addition to God.

There is loads to be said about this idea of idolatry - how it promises much but never delivers - how it enslaves. But why does God use the notion of willful adultery as a way of describing it. Why does he cast himself as a husband who has been cheated on, by his wife. One thing it emphasises is that sin is not primarily the breaking of some legal code. Instead, in the words of one preacher, sin is primarily an offence against love.

So our love for other things more than, or instead of, or alongside God, is ultimately a rejection of his love. So when I live for money, or reputation or my work, or drugs and alcohol, and that love leads me to lie, be proud, cheat or simply forget God, the problem is not that God is cross that I've broken some command, but that I have rejected the one who made and saved me.

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