16 September 2011

Lessons from Ahab

 1 Kings 21:25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

If you’ve ever heard anyone say that Ahab is the most wicked king that Israel ever had, that statement is based on this passage (and 1 Kings 16:25, 30).  Had a couple interesting thoughts as I came across it this last time in my Bible reading.

1.  Ahab sold himself to work wickedness.

Romans 12:1-2 is about as critical a passage as any other when it comes to the Christian life.  You’ll never become what God can make you and accomplish what God can do through you until you learn to lay your body on the altar of surrender and submit your will to God’s (see Christ’s example, Luke 22:42).  Especially in youth ministry, this is often referred to as “selling out” to God.  It involves sacrifice.  It involves giving up some things.  Things like worldliness (Romans 12:2).  Things like the lusts of the flesh (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Things like personal desires and ambitions.  Things like ungodly friends and companions (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  So we’re challenged to count the cost and to transform our thinking so that we can view it as reasonable service (Romans 12:2).

What I thought was interesting about 1 Kings 21:25 is that doing wrong involves just as much surrender as doing right.  If you want to live for the Lord, you’ll have to be a living sacrifice.  But if you end up working wickedness instead, it just means that you’ve sold yourself to that. 

Here’s the point.  Those who refuse to surrender to the will of God and opt rather to follow the lusts of the flesh often do so under the delusion of “freedom” or “liberty” or “choice.” 

But if you believe the Bible, Romans 6 makes it very clear that you do have a “choice,” but that choice is whether you yield to God or yield to the flesh.  Romans 6 makes it clear that you’re “free” to choose whether you want to be the servant or God or the servant of sin. 

Here’s the difference.  Those who live after the flesh think they’re free, but they’re really in bondage (2 Peter 2:19; John 8:34).  And the people who live for the Lord consider themselves servants, but enjoy a glorious freedom (Romans 6:16-23; Galatians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 3:17).

2.  Jezebel his wife stirred him up.

Here’s just another example of why the company you keep is so important. Chances are Ahab wouldn’t have topped the “most wicked kings of Israel” list had it not been for the influence of his heathen wife. 

Proverbs 13:20 says that a companion of fools shall be destroyed, and you had better believe it.  1 Corinthians 15:33 says that evil communications corrupt good manners.  If you don’t believe it’s true, that just proves you are deceived.  In Galatians 3:1 Paul asked the foolish Galatians WHO had bewitched them that they should not obey the truth.  Again in Galatians 5:7, WHO did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

So here’s the question.  Are your friends the servants of righteousness or the servants of sin (there are no other options)?  If the latter, then it’s time to get yourself a new set of friends.  Because the people around you are going to influence you, and you need someone to influence you toward the freedom of serving God.

Another question.  That guy you’re interesting in…  That girl you think is cute…  That person you’re “going out” with or that person you’re thinking about marrying…  What does he serve?  Who does she serve?  You had better make sure you both have the same master!  Because if you’re serving one and she’s serving the other, chances are she’ll win you and not vice versa.  If you’re submitted to the will of God and he’s selling himself to do wickedness, then just the fact that you’d yoke yourself with that type of person shows that they’re dragging you down and not the other way around. 

So even the worst of us can serve as a bad example.  And that’s just the case with Ahab.  Hope we can learn from his mistakes and avoid making them ourselves.