What if God called you or I to suffer for our faith or to live under some kind of oppression? Would we trust Him and choose to live righteously and show His love to those around us?
On the other hand, even under the best of circumstances, sinful thoughts like discontent, envy, criticism and bitterness can cause us to justify all kinds of sinful behaviors. Those sins we think we harbor in our hearts and minds can send us into a downward slide into things we never could have imagined, as we’ll see in 2 Kings 6.
2 Kings 5 & 6
Living Based on the Hope that is within Us
2 Kings 5 & 6:
Serving God in Whatever Circumstances
Chapter 5.2-3 really amazes me and has a great message for us.
“And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'”
Here’s a young girl who had been ripped away from her family and life as she knew it, forced to work as a slave, and yet, look at her heart attitude—one of loyalty and concern for the people under whose authority God had placed her.
Why would God allow that to happen to her in the first place?
For the same reason He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and carried off to a foreign land—to fulfill His plans and purposes AND to bless those He uses. We need to remember that our good and His glory are always connected.
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
Because of this little servant girl, who lived her life out of “the hope that [was] in [her],” Naaman would come to know the One True God.
The Joys and Sorrows of Discipling Others
Another passage that spoke to me was 2 Kings 5.25-26. After Naaman had gone to the Prophet and been healed, he offered Elisha gifts of silver and clothing, but Elisha had refused them. After he left, Elisha’s servant Gehazi followed him, told him that the Prophet had changed his mind, and had greedily taken the gifts.
“Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?’ …”
“Did not my heart go with you …” It’s such a blessing to see those you have led to the Lord or discipled grow and walk in the truth, but painful to see them walk away from the truth.
How Elisha’s heart must have been broken to see Gehazi, who had seen so many of God’s miracles, turn his back on God for monetary gain!
How easily we can get on a downward slide into sin. We first need to realize that we can’t play around with sinful thoughts. Thoughts of discontent, envy and criticism can easily cause us to justify taking what we think we deserve or some other sinful behavior or response.
If not repented of and forsaken one sin leads to another and to another (Rom. 6.19) as we see in 2 Kings 6.
Chapter 6 recounts a very disturbing story of how the Northern Kingdom’s descent into sin and idolatry had brought them to the depths of human depravity. Samaria was under siege and food had become so scarce that the people were starving. Verses 26-29:
“Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ And he said, ‘If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?’ Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, “Give your son, that we may eat him”; but she has hidden her son.'”
Can you imagine this, even under starvation conditions? The first thing that struck me was the woman’s lack of shame! She didn’t mind telling the king what they had done!
But as I thought about this passage and how shocking it is, is it that different from women today who allow their boyfriends to abuse or even kill their babies or children. And others who do so themselves.
Neither should we lose sight of the fact that there is a message in this for us, too. It’s so tempting to get self-righteous and think:
“I’m so glad I’m not like this person or that one.”
“I’m not like Bathsheba. She should have stood up to David. She had to know it wasn’t right!”
“I’m so glad I’m not like that woman who was taken in adultery, or Nabal the fool, or like Rebekah plotting to deceive her husband, or like the Pharisees plotting Jesus’ death.”
“Or like these women who would eat their own children!”
But these women are a picture of our own hearts and a warning about where the downward spiral of sin can lead. If we harden our hearts in the little things, it’s only a matter of time before we sin in bigger and bigger ways. As I shared a few days ago, if we habitually reject God or willfully disobey we can slide down to the point where God removes His restraining grace and then we are capable of sinning in unimaginable ways! (Rom. 1.18-32).
Thank God for His grace! It is His grace that saves us and keeps us. Our responsibility is to walk in obedience, not in our own strength, but powered by His grace as we humbly rely on Him.
Today’s Other Readings:
Solomon’s Reign—a Glimpse of the Millennial Kingdom
This psalm talks about the reign of Solomon when people from far and wide came to see and hear his wisdom, to bring gifts and show him honor. But it also looks forward to the millennial reign of our future King, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes to set up His kingdom on earth.
Our Strong Tower
Verse 10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
The name of the Lord represents His character, who He is. He is our loving heavenly Father, our Deliverer, the One we can run to in any kind of trouble!
True Believers & Eternal Security
The time had come for Jesus to be arrested, but every detail of God’s plan was to be fulfilled. Verses 7-9:
“Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way, that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.'”
John 10.10 says:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
Just as none of the disciples was to be arrested along with Jesus, neither will any of His other sheep be lost. What a great promise of eternal security!
There will be apostasy, a falling away, of those who appear to be believers, but John said in his epistle
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 Jn. 2.19).
True believers may fall into sin, sometimes for an extended period of time, but true believers will repent of their sin and come back. If someone completely walks away from God, he or she was not a true believer.
Take some time today to thank Him for His grace and mercy in your own life. If you’re not sure that you’re a true believer, ask God to show you. Read the book of John prayerfully and thoughtfully. Leave me a message in the comments section. I will gladly email you if you don’t want your comment published.
Don’t let pride keep you from being sure!
All believers have wrestled with this question at some point in their spiritual walks. So what answers does God provide to challenging questions like: Am I really saved? Am I going to heaven? How can I know for sure?
Renowned pastor and author John MacArthur believes every Christian should enjoy the reality and security of being saved without a doubt. Drawing from a background rich in Bible study and teaching, John examines key scriptures, tackles tough questions, and sheds light on the true nature of salvation. Throughout, you’ll be encouraged to embrace the perfect grace found in Jesus Christ.
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