(Meditating on Psalm 74)
O God, why have You cast us off forever?
Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? (Psalm 74:1)
I read Psalm 74 and I compare the life of the Israelites estranged from the Lord God because of their sins with the life of a backsliding Christian without the Holy Spirit. God punished Israel because of her multitude of sins, in particular, her idolatry. She had embraced and defiled herself with foreign gods and gone awhoring with them, and forsook the living God, her redeemer.
Sadly, this tragic story of the Israelites is replayed in the lives of many Christians in these modern times. After receiving the Holy Spirit and have tasted of its fruits, many have been lured again by the pleasures of this world and forsook the one who redeemed them. The scary thing about apostasy is that, oftentimes it happens gradually, without one even realizing it. That is, until it’s too late.
I’ve heard testimonies in Church of brothers and sisters who, at one time or another, had backslid and forsook their faith. Some of these stories tell that the process starts when one becomes so engrossed with one’s work or business that one gradually stops to attend worship services. Communing with God through private praise and worship and prayers (with regular fasting) is also forsaken. What would be the end of this utter negligence and complacency but that the Holy Spirit will grieve, and hence, leave?
Without the Spirit of God who dwells in one’s heart, one is once again powerless against sin, and this time, it is worse than before one received the Gospel of salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ has warned us of this.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Mat. 12:43-45, emphasis added)
It is hard to imagine life without the Holy Spirit. It’s too scary to even contemplate about it. Without Christ, without hope, without eternal life? There aren’t enough words to describe this wretched state! These stories that were written about God’s people who had lived before us serve as our reminders to remain faithful to God and serve Him only. Also, the testimonies of brothers and sisters who had experienced the horrors of a life without the presence of God will serve as dire warnings to us to hold on to our salvation and work it out with “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
I marvel greatly at the enduring mercies of God and His faithfulness as I listen to brothers and sisters who once turned their backs to the Lord Jesus Christ and the faith but were drawn again by Him and returned them to the fold. But there were others who were not as fortunate but died without the Lord. How tragic that could be!
For God is my King from of old,
Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by Your strength;
You broke the heads of the sea serpents in the waters.
14 You broke the heads of Leviathan in pieces,
And gave him as food to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
15 You broke open the fountain and the flood;
You dried up mighty rivers.
16 The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
17 You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter. (vv. 12-17)