BELIEFS THAT ARE KILLING US: I CAN HAVE WHATEVER I WANT

INTRODUCTION

We all know that attitudes lead to actions. Mindsets shape manners. Convictions give rise to corresponding conduct. And beliefs determine behavior. Our life is a reflection of the thoughts and philosophies that we live by.

Some of the things we believe and live by are genuinely good and true. Others we only think are genuinely good and true, but really are not. Our own human experiences remind us in sometimes painful and humbling ways that we’re not always right. We’re capable of being wrong. We’ve been wrong about some of the things we’ve believed and thought. It’s a hard and humbling pill to swallow and some people refuse to swallow it. They will always be right even though we know they’re wrong as wrong can be.

Just because we believe what we believe doesn’t make us right. This is another hard pill for some of us to swallow. But it’s nevertheless true. Our beliefs don’t make us right and they don’t mean we’re right. Our beliefs are right only when they line up with God’s Word. His truth is the plumb line that determines what beliefs are right and what beliefs are wrong. As the prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 8:20, To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. When our beliefs contradict God’s Word we’re certain to be wrong whether we admit it or not.

Some of the beliefs that we hold dear in life are not good for us. We hold them dear because they allow us to live the way we want to live without repercussion or condemnation. They allow us to live with a free conscience and allow us to continue doing the things we love to do.

But the fact of the matter is, some of the beliefs that we hold dear in life are not good for us. They’ll end up killing us. Sin kills and damns us. And the beliefs that allow us to sin with seeming impunity put us on the road that leads to hell. Let’s look at one of these beliefs.

I CAN HAVE WHATEVER I WANT

The human mind and heart are really so clever and deceitful. They are absolutely out-of-this-world geniuses when it comes to rationalizing or justifying what is, in actuality, wrong. And devilishly so. Here’s a case in point.

Ahab was a King of Israel. He lived in the Royal Palace which was at Samaria. But, like a lot of kings throughout the ages, Ahab had other palaces that were scattered throughout the kingdom. One of these palaces was in the village of Jezreel.

Now the King wanted to do some gardening. And it just so happened that there was a nice plot of land next to the palace that would be ideal for his highness’ green thumb. So the King went to his neighbor—Naboth was his name—and he made an offer on the land.

To the King’s shocked dismay, Naboth wouldn’t sell him the land! The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers, Naboth told him (1 Kings 21:3).

Now Naboth wasn’t being disrespectful or anything like that. It was just that Naboth was a man of principle. According to the law, he couldn’t sell his land to the King. You can read about the laws of the land in Leviticus 25. Anyways, as long as Naboth wasn’t destitute or in a humongous sinkhole of debt, he couldn’t sell anyone the land.

When the Israelites took possession of the land during Joshua’s time the land was carved up between the twelve tribes of Israel. By Divine Law, the tribal lands were to remain in the tribe and in each of the particular families who made up the tribe. Ahab didn’t belong to Naboth’s family and tribe. So Naboth couldn’t sell him the land. It was a matter of law and principle. And Naboth just wouldn’t budge or compromise on that.

So what did the King do? He went back to the palace and sulked. And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food, 1 Kings 21:4.

Well, the King’s wife, named Jezebel, wanted to know why Ahab was just so down. So he told her what happened. Jezebel couldn’t believe it! Imagine the nerve of that Naboth to rebuff the King! The Queen was indignant! Do you now govern Israel?, she asked (1 Kings 21:7).

At that time they had what was akin to the divine right or prerogative of kings. This divine right was the recognition that the king could have whatever he wanted. He was, after all, the king. This is what Jezebel was hinting at. Are you the King or not? If you are, then act like one! You can have whatever you want!

Of course, Israelite kings are somewhat restricted or limited by the fact that they were expected to obey God’s laws. Even the King himself was duty-bound to obey God. Naboth reminded the King of God’s law and that’s why the King sulked: he couldn’t do anything about God’s law. Naboth was in the right. The King was in no position to buy, or own, the land.

Jezebel herself, however, was not an Israelite. She was as heathen as they come and she had no compunctions about disobeying God’s laws. Her husband was the King and, by golly, the King can have whatever he wants! She’ll make sure to that! While her devious mind went to work, she cheered her husband up: Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kings 21:7).

What did she do? She wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city.  (9)  And she wrote in the letters, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people.  (10)  And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death (1 Kings 21:8-10).

Unfortunately, Jezreel’s leaders were pretty spineless. The Queen was legendary for her wickedness and wrath and the town’s elders didn’t want to mess with her. So they did as they were told and poor Naboth got himself killed.

When Jezebel got the news that Naboth was dead, she told her husband the King to arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead (1 Kings 21:15).

As you’d imagine, the downcast King, on hearing the news of his good fortune, hightailed it out of the palace in sheer jubilation and went to take possession of the coveted piece of land that was now his.

When you’ve got your entire being focused on doing something wrong you don’t take the time to think things through. You don’t think about God, morals, virtue, right or wrong. You shut God out. But I love the way God butts right back in and speaks with a voice that will not be silenced.

1 Kings 21:17-19,  Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,  (18)  “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.  (19)  And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”‘ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”‘”

Ahab was wrong and he did something wrong. Yeah, we can all say that it wasn’t his fault. It was his wife’s fault. It was her idea. But when he went to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard he was doing something he knew was wrong. In this way, he was complicit with Jezebel in the murder of a perfectly good man. 

So what’s the moral of the story? YOU CAN’T ALWAYS HAVE WHATEVER YOU WANT. It’s that plain and simple.

I think a lot of times we use our status or position in life to fool us into thinking we can have whatever we want. We may not be the King, like Ahab, but I’m the boss, I’m the pastor, I’m the man-in-charge, I’m the father, or I’m the mother, I have the final say, I’m an adult, I can think for myself, I can make my own decisions, I’m a Christian, I’m a child of God, God says I can have whatever I want (Mark 11:24), and, by golly, I can have whatever I want!

Nice try, bucko. But you’ve got it wrong! Mark 11:24 is true. But God also said you can’t have whatever’s sinful or harmful for you. Look it up for yourself in James 4:1-3. You can’t have whatever you’re lusting after—not with God’s blessings or permission. Some of the things you want aren’t good for you. You might think otherwise. But God knows better than you. He knows what’s good for you and what’s not. When something you want isn’t good for you God puts His foot down and  says, No, you’ve got it wrong. You can’t have whatever you want.

Of course, you can contravene God’s law and get whatever it is you want. But be forewarned. You will pay the consequences, like Ahab did. Yeah, he got the land that he wanted. But he paid for it with his life! Read it for yourself. In 1 Kings 21 he gets the land. And in the very next chapter, 1 Kings 22, he gets killed. What he wanted and got ended up killing him. So was it worth it?

Is it worth it to you? Are you willing to die to get whatever it is you want? If it came right down to it, are you willing to go to hell to get whatever you want?  Is it really worth that much to you?

Listen, if you can learn this one lesson now, while you’re alive and not after you’re dead, you will be so much the wiser: NOTHING AND NO ONE IS WORTH GOING TO HELL OVER. Give it up. Let it go. When it comes to what’s unlawful, illicit, or ungodly, whatever  it is you want, it’s not worth hell.

If we don’t learn from the mistakes of others we’re doomed to repeat those same mistakes. So take it from the dead if not from the Lord and His Word: you can’t always have whatever you want. And if you insist otherwise you will live to regret the day you disobeyed the Lord. You can count on it.

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