Something you notice reading the OT: very rarely did Israel abandon God entirely, even when they went after idols.

What they did instead was give God lip service and minimal obedience so they could have God AND their idols while convincing themselves they hadn’t abandoned Him.

They didn’t stop making sacrifices… they’d just give God their leftovers and tell themselves it was good enough. That’s why God used the adultery metaphor—they hadn’t left the covenant relationship with God, they were just cheating on Him in the midst of it.

The worst part is, there were always priests and pseudo-prophets to be found who would tell them it was perfectly fine to do so. Some of them even joined right in on riding the fence.

“Your lamb broke his leg? Bring it in and that can be your sacrifice! What’s that? No, God won’t mind!”

“Don’t worry about it, oh king. God is perfectly fine with you and will prosper you in anything you do.”

These religious leaders were not attempting to lead people away from God entirely. Their sole purpose was to give people comfort to believe their fence riding was just fine.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We live in a similar religious climate. We are surrounded by idolatrous people and are therefore subject to a constant pull to mix our Christianity with our neighbors’ idolatry.

And, we are surrounded by the kind of churches and preaching that the Israelites had – “It’s just fine, give God your minimum. He doesn’t want to have a say over the details of your life, just ‘be a good person.’” “Itching ears” demand teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, and many teachers will happily oblige (2 Timothy 4:3). 

As with Israel, Satan doesn’t need to convert Christians to atheism. He doesn’t even need to get you to leave the church. 

He just needs to get churches to tell people that God is perfectly happy with their worldly lives so long as they keep showing up on Sunday.

Just look at the last 60 years to see what he can do to a culture when he gets churches to compromise. Just like Israel, he only needs one generation to compromise. Then the next will stroll right in to full-on atheism or paganism.

Two of the most memorable speeches of the Old Testament came from Joshua and Elijah who offered the same challenge:


Joshua told the people they’d have to choose between the Egyptian gods, the Canaanite gods, or Jehovah – but as for he and his house, they were serving Jehovah (Joshua 24:15).

Elijah asked them, how long will you limp back and forth between two opinions? If Baal is god, serve him. But if Jehovah is God, serve Him (1 Kings 18:21).

The New Testament offers this same challenge when it condemns double-minded people (James 1:8, 4:8) and when Jesus pronounced a blessing on the pure in heart (Matthew 5:8).

To be “Pure in heart” carries the idea of having unadulterated, single-minded desire. We can’t serve two masters, and we can’t be friends with both God and the world (James 4:4).

Many Christians today would say “Amen, brother” to this, yet welcome secular gods into their house every day of the week through the TV, the internet, their philosophy of life and family, their politics, and any other way the culture splits from God.

Our call must be the same as the one God’s faithful prophets have always made: PICK ONE.