If you read the history of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) in the Old Testament, keep in mind that none of the kings of Israel was considered good because they led Israel to sin against God. They had established a religion worshiping golden calves in Dan and Bethel, not the one true God. The Israelites sinned against God when they forsook Him and worshiped creatures (golden calves, Baal, etc.) like the nations around them. They also walked in the ways of the heathen (the wicked and idolatrous nations around) instead of walking in God’s Laws and statutes they had been taught. At any point in Israel’s history, the kings could have sought God (remember the prophets constantly preached for the people to seek God!). Instead, we read that they continued in the sin of Jeroboam I, who made Israel to sin. Read what is recorded in Proverbs that they should have known: “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him” (Proverbs 11:27). Because they sought mischief, they got it. (Mischief means: “bad; wicked; evil; of inferior quality.”) Remember the turning point in the nation Israel, the point from which they did not return: when they refused to hear the Word of the Lord from the prophets of God. At any point, the kings of Israel could have remembered God’s laws and commandments, kept them, and encouraged the people to keep them. They lived the way they wanted instead of the way God taught them. Because of this, they were conquered, losing their kingdom. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
Since we are to learn from history, we must notice the progression of sin in the nation Israel. One of the best examples of this progression is in Psalm 1. First, one walks with sinners, then stops and talks with them, and finally sits with them. Desiring sin and walking with sinners begins with lust. Lust means “a strong desire; a longing; to satisfy carnal appetites.” Read what James 1:14–15 says, “14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” This is a great reminder to seek the things of God, not the things of this world. When we know what is right, we should do it. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). If one is not sure, seek God. Remember Amos’ plea, “Seek the LORD, and ye shall live …” (Amos 5:6). We should never sin away our lives — as Israel did. For, “… There is a sin unto death …” (1 John 5:16).
Notice that in the New Testament, Paul preached to people in the same condition. He warned that the wrath of God would fall upon those who knew the truth, but did not live it out in their lives: “18. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 21. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:18–19, 21–25). Search your heart to see if you are guilty of knowing the way of righteousness, yet not living in the truth of it. This is an important question for each Christian to consider!
Do you live out the truth of God’s Word in your life?