Every Monday we’ll post something about maintaining your sexual integrity. Hope it helps.
Our Gods Most High
A depressing, recurring phrase shows up throughout the Old Testament books of the Kings and Chronicles: “King so-and-so ruled, and he did not tear down the high places.” The phrase “high places”, in fact, appears some 100 times in the Old Testament, and that alone makes the subject worth our attention.
Evidently the high places of ancient times were raised locations, elevated areas where stones or monuments were erected by the Canaanites to different gods, and where unbridled worship of these deities was practiced. When Israel took over the land, God had commanded them to tear down these places, (Number 33: 52, 55) a commandment often ignored by Israel’s leadership. The worship itself may account for some of their reluctance to abandon this idolatry, since reverence to the pagan gods was often shown through sexual orgies or ritualized prostitution. Also worth our notice, though, is the fact that people who knew God and in fact worshipped Him, were also capable of retaining altars to other gods. It wasn’t so much that they wanted to abandon Him; they simply wanted other hims as well.
There’s only one Him, to be sure. But in both the testimony of scripture and our own experience, we see an existence of lessor gods – beings, experiences or things with limited but very real power, worshipped by some; dangerous to all.
Some spiritual forces exist literally, independent of man. Paul referred to Satan, for example, as a god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4) Gods like that were clearly not created by us, as they exist and operate without input or strength from humans.
But there are other gods, created and empowered by men and women, who rule only because their subjects chose their rule over His: gods of lust, rebellion, money, or self. Anytime we commit ourselves to a thing, person, or experience that takes us outside God’s will, we likewise create a high place, an unholy ground at which we bow before what should be rejected rather than revered. Thus we want Him while wanting it, naming Him as Lord but keeping a private high place solidly intact.
Private lust is surely one of the commonest of these lords. Countless men naming the name of Christ bow publicly to Him, then secretly to It, calling up its image on their laptops then paying homage to it. Their personal high places have become pseudo-havens, embracing and poisoning them all at once. And while the internet is still relatively new, the way it’s abused in this fashion isn’t. Ezekiel records a time God spoke to him directly about secret ceremonies practiced by Israelites: “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us — .’” (Ezekiel 8:12)
And frankly, the prevalence of Christian men entertaining themselves in this way is as depressing as the tired phrase repeated over and over again in scripture: “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not tear down the high places.”
There’s no reason that should be said of you, or me. High places come down when they’re brought to light, when their damage is recognized, and when the pleasure they deliver can no longer match the discomfort or calamity experienced by their user. So today, when we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, let’s be sure to include any unrecognized high places in the bargain. Experience has shown that God will be only too happy to shine a light on those places, especially if and when we’re asking Him to.
He hates the secret sin, whatever it may be. But more than that, I think, He hates duplicity, hypocrisy, and double-mindedness, all of which are offenses to Him and strangleholds on us. God grant that we see them that way, and that we be given the courage to tear down any monuments to false gods we were never meant to know, much less worship.
Because our God most high draws us in love, makes bond-slaves of us, and in the process frees us beyond description. And that’s a claim no putrid idol, no matter how pleasurable, can ever make.