As I was growing up in Kentucky, when I left the house to go out with the guys, or to go out on a date, my parents often said, "Remember who you are." As trials and temptations face us, it is important that we remember who WE are and the lives we are attempting to live. No one is immune to temptation. Sin is universal (Romans 3:23). It is among the great and the small, and of course that means that temptation abounds everywhere. As David lamented over the deaths of King Saul and his son, Jonathan, he said, "Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places! How are the mighty fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:19) All of us must remember who we are.
In Deuteronomy 14:1-2, Moses reminded the people of Israel who they were and how God had designated them as a peculiar people who had three distinguishing privileges.
They were to distinguish themselves by a sober singularity and separation from all nations about them; but this they did not do. After settling into the land of Canaan, Israel became rich and well-fed and "waxed fat;" and then "he forsook God who made him ..." (Deuteronomy 32:15). The nation of Israel had forgotten who she was. Why?
They lost their desire to please God and cultivated a desire to be like the nations around them. For this reason, they asked Samuel for a king that he might "judge us and go out before us and fight our battles" (2 Samuel 8:19-20). Among God's people today, many are compromising with the world around us, forgetting that we too must remember who we are and the kind of lives we are trying to live. This will cause us to become a peculiar people. "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ ... But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for (God's) own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:5-9) Indeed, we live in this world, but we must be constant in our efforts to avoid becoming like it (Romans 12:1-2). There are those in the body of Christ who, like ancient Israel, are not satisfied to follow God's will. They desire to be like others around us. Consequently, various innovations, missionary societies, benevolent societies, recreational endeavors, and other evidences of the social gospel have been attached to the church. Thus, the sad story of division began and continues to be written. Why? We have forgotten who we are; and we want to be like the nations about us.
Israel lacked knowledge. Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6) Israelís lack of knowledge about God's word was so great during the reign of Josiah that there was a time when the "book of the law" was lost in the house of the Lord (2 Kings. 22:8, 13).
What a terrible thing for God's word to be lost for so long that the hearts of the people no longer remembered its message. During this time, sin became so rampant that their rebellion and idolatry brought them into exile. What a pity. There is a great lack of knowledge among God's people today. The evidence is abounding, with strange views being advanced on issues that were clearly understood a generation ago. Why such lack of knowledge? Someone answers, "We do not study as we should" (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15). Certainly, this is true, but perhaps we are not teaching as we should (cf. Deuteronomy 6:6ff). Parents, Bible class teachers, preachers, elders, and all of us must realize our teaching time is precious, and the consequences of our failure are tragic. It is hard to remember who you are and the life you are trying to live without proper and thorough teaching.
Israel forgot who they were because of indifference. Jeremiah stated, "Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently." (Jeremiah 48:10) The church in many places today stands in great danger of losing her peculiarity because of a tendency toward indifference. What could be more dangerous than an I-don't-care attitude, and what could be more nauseating to the Lord (Revelation 3:15-16)? Many are caught up in things which, in themselves, are not wrong but things which, none the less, hinder their service to God. Such things as buying oxen or a piece of land or marrying a wife (cf. Luke 14:15ff), may not be specifically wrong, but if our priorities are not right, these simple things can cause us to forget who we are. When we become too busy, even with honorable things, to serve God, we are too busy! Perhaps this indifference is most obvious in our attitude toward the lost. The wisdom writer said, "He that is wise winneth souls." (Proverbs 11:30) Such indifference will cause our ultimate destruction.
May the Lord help us not to lose our peculiarity as Israel did. There is no middle ground; we are with the Lord, or we are against Him (Matthew 12:30). We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). "Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) May we never forget who we are, for we are the children of God!
Brother Galloway has done an excellent job of reminding us, as Godís people, of the importance of not forgetting that first and foremost, we are CHRISTIANS. The world is constantly undergoing some kind of identity crisis. Styles change; attitudes change; morals change; what is acceptable and unacceptable changes like the wind. Godís children are constantly bombarded by those who seek to change our belief system--faith in God and in His word. We must remember that we wear His name and we belong to Him!
Christians need to remember that the fads and thinking of the day do not determine what we believe or where we stand on a given issue. Although the world is always changing what it believes about certain issues of the day, Godís people must remain strong and convicted on the positions taken by God in His word.
Consider two examples--homosexuality and marriage. Godís word could not be plainer. Homosexuality is a sin that will bring eternal damnation (Romans 1:24-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). Marriage is between a man and a womenónot a man and a man or a woman and a woman (Genesis 2:24, Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:6-9). This is Godís truth, and this is where His people must stand. We cannot allow the worldís fickleness to cause us to forget that we are Christians! (KMG)