– Charles Stanley
One Foot in the World
It’s never a good idea to have one foot in one place with one foot elsewhere. It’s only asking for trouble and especially for the Christian who has one foot in the kingdom but one foot in the world. The Apostle John warns us to “not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1st John 2:15) and James would ask us “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Jesus knew we couldn’t be cut off from the world so He prayed “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one”’ (John 17:15) because “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). We can be in the world but not of the world, but if do go back into the world, God desires we repent and turn again to Him.
Yearning for Egypt
When Israel was freed from their severe bondage of slavery, it didn’t take them long to yearn to return. How easy is it for us to be just like “the whole congregation of the people of Israel [who] grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Ex 16:2-3). At even a hint of trouble, the Israelites would talk about going back to Egypt just like we desire to go back to sin when it begins to get difficult. It’s in our nature (Rom 7).
Pulls of the Flesh
When Lot decided to take the best land after Abraham’s generous offer, “Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other” (Gen 13:11) but “Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom” (Gen 13:12). Why did Lot pitch his tent toward or near Sodom? Lot and his family must have desired what Sodom had to offer and Lot ended up sitting in the gates of Sodom, and in the language of that day, it meant he became part of the establishment (Gen 19:1). Now, he was not only doing business with the evil residents of Sodom, he had apparently become one of Sodom’s leaders. Instead of living in a tent, he lived in a house and likely a very nice one. Job was so pulled by the flesh that he seemed unfazed when he and his family were taken captive by an alliance of kings (Gen 14:1-16) and it was only due to Abraham rescuing Lot that he and his entire family didn’t end up as slaves. He should have gotten a clue and fled Sodom then but many of us have the same pulls of the flesh and we pitch our tent nearer and nearer until we get burned, even when there’s warning signs. God wants us to turn and return; to Him.
I really like Charles Stanley. He is a rock-solid pastor, teacher, and author and what he said about the times that we stray from His presence that God wants us to come back to Him is true. To turn means to repent. We might give up on God but I don’t believe God ever gives up on us. He wants all of us and not just part of us, He wants us to cease from yearning for the past life of sin, and He wants us to resist the pulls of the flesh.