Preached by Mike Lagle
Transcribed By Charles Li
Romans 8 – 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are some things in life that ideally would remain inseparable. For example, under most circumstances, you do not want your steering wheel separated from your car. And of course, in a perfect world, you’d like to keep your head inseparable from the rest of you. Paul gives us a pretty extensive list to prove his point that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. However, there is one thing that is missing from his list: Us
The Stronghold of Egypt’s Influence
The Israelites were God’s people – they were blessed. Balak, king of Moab, was afraid of them mainly because there were so many of them and they settled in the neighboring land. He feared that they would wipe out all of the resources around him, so he hired the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. Long story short, Balaam could only do what the Lord told him to do, which was to bless the Israelites. Eventually, the Israelites were seduced by the worldly practices of the Moabites, and in doing this they brought a curse upon themselves. The Israelites separated themselves from God.
When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and their Egyptian oppressors were washed away, that should’ve been the end of Egyptian influence in their lives. However, it wasn’t long before the Israelites began to worship idols and make sacrifices to false gods. They were immersed for over 400 years in this pagan culture that ascribed a god to anything and everything that represented life or death. The Israelites would find themselves in some sort of trouble off-and-on for centuries. We get to the book of Judges and for another 400-plus years, they would fall into idolatry and pagan practices, fall into the hands of oppressors, repent, God would raise up a judge (military leader) to deliver them. Then they would fall back into idolatry and pagan practices, fall into the hands of oppressors, repent, and God would raise up a judge (military leader) to deliver them. “Rinse and repeat” another ten or eleven times over the next few centuries.
Gideon was one of those judges. He was approached by the angel of the Lord while hiding from the Midianites (the Israelite oppressors at the time) and was tasked with leading the Israelites to victory against the Midianites. He was to amass an army, and he gathered 32,000 men. Not bad, except they were outnumbered about four-to-one. God said 32,000 is too many because He didn’t want Gideon’s army taking the credit for the victory, so anyone who was afraid was to leave. 22,000 men left, leaving 10,000. God said that’s still too many. To reduce Gideon’s forces even more, God instructed Gideon to take his men to the water to drink. Whoever cupped water in their hands and drank would stay, and whoever put their face directly to the water should leave. Only 300 cupped water in their hands, and so, including Gideon, there were 301 men to take on 120,000. They went from being outnumbered 4-to-1 down to 400-to-1! By God’s instruction, Gideon and his 300 men used clay pots, torches, horns, and the element of surprise to trick the Midianite army into thinking they were surrounded by massive forces and sent them into such a panic that they started killing each other, and the rest ran away.
But focusing on the second test God put Gideon’s men through – drinking water. Doesn’t seem like a big deal. Why did it matter how someone drank water? I submit two reasons. One – it mattered strategically. If you’re drinking with your face to the water, it’s more difficult to be aware of your surroundings if you’re in the midst of battle. If you’re drinking from your hands, you can still maintain situational awareness. Two – it mattered spiritually. Putting their faces to the water is how the Egyptians worshipped the Nile River. I believe that to God, this was a sign that there were some remnants of the Egyptian culture still with those who drank with their faces to the water, whether they realized it or not.
Even though the Israelites were entirely out of Egypt, Egypt was not entirely out of them. They may have escaped physical bondage, physical slavery, but spiritually they were still bound. Their physical taskmasters had been washed away in the Red Sea, but the whip of idolatry still stung their hearts. From the golden calf at the base of Mount Sinai, to the counsel of Balaam, to Gideon’s father’s altar of Baal which was torn down by Gideon, and everything in between and everything that came after, the Israelites were not entirely free of the influence of Egypt.
But it was not Egypt in and of itself that consistently drove a wedge between God and His people. It was their choice to turn away and be separated from God to pursue the influence of Egypt despite everything God had done for them.
Revelation 22 – 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Gaslighting: A Tactic Of The Enemy
God will not force you to turn to Him, but He will be ready and waiting when you do decide to turn to Him.
The year 1938 marked the release of a play called Gas Light which was twice later adapted to film, once in 1940 and again in 1944. The movie revolves around an abusive husband who psychologically manipulates his wife into thinking she’s going insane. The title Gas Light is based on the gas lights in the house which dim whenever the husband secretly turns on the gas lights in the attic to search for hidden jewels. The wife accurately notices the dimming lights, but the husband insists she just imagined a change in the level of illumination. It is one of a series of unexplained incidents that lead the wife to suspect that she may be slowly going mad. This is the origin of the term “gaslighting” – convincing someone that something they are sure is true is really just their imagination. It is an abusive tactic that is used to manipulate someone into thinking a certain way.
The devil uses this very tactic in an attempt to get you to separate yourself from the love of God. You know that you are a child of God, but the devil will bring up stuff from your past and sell you the lie that you are defined by your past; your past sins, your past hurts, your past offenses, your past mistakes. He will try to convince you that you’re so far gone that there’s no way God would ever want you back. He will try to manipulate you out of your blessing. Out of your spiritual heritage. Out of your spiritual inheritance.
God’s Love Proven in Three Parables
When confronted by Pharisees and other religious leaders for sitting and eating with sinful people, Jesus responded with three parables: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son.
A shepherd has a flock of one hundred sheep, and one becomes lost. The shepherd will leave the ninety-nine that are safe to find the one missing sheep. When he returns with the lost sheep, he will call his friends and neighbors together to celebrate the return of the lost sheep.
A woman has a set of ten silver coins and loses one. She will light a lamp, clean up the house, and search carefully until she finds it, and when she does she will call her friends and neighbors to celebrate finding the lost coin.
A man has two sons, the younger of which wanted his inheritance before he was supposed to have it. His father obliged and the son moved far away and wasted all his money on a wild lifestyle. Then came a great famine, and this young man was now starving. He got a local farmer to hire him, and when he went to feed the pigs, was so hungry that their food looked good. He lamented that all of his father’s servants were so well taken care of, and here he was about to starve to death. He planned to go back, regretful, repentant; not as a son to a father, but as a servant looking for work. When his father saw him in the distance, he ran to him and embraced him, cleaned him up, and held a feast in his honor. The parable continues with the older brother who stayed home challenging his father on why he never threw him a feast. The father told him that he could’ve had anything he wanted, but today was a day to celebrate his brother. In Jesus’ parable, the older brother represented the Pharisees challenging him for eating with sinners. The focus was not to be on the Pharisees, but the people with whom Jesus sat.
Hope For The Lost
The devil would have you think once lost always lost. No hope. No chance for redemption. But when that lost sheep is found, Jesus said there is more joy in Heaven when one lost soul comes home than for the ninety-nine righteous who were already saved! When that lost coin is found, Jesus said there is joy in the presence of the angels when someone repents. And when a prodigal (wasteful, extravagant) son returns home, the Father comes running with arms wide open.
Only we can separate ourselves from Him. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus says that on Judgement Day, many will cry out to him, “Lord, Lord! We prophesied in your name, cast out devils in your name, and performed miracles in your name!” And He would reply, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” That is not a result of Him not loving us. The cross is proof positive that He loves us.
Paul was persuaded there was no outside force, circumstance, or influence that could separate us from the love of God. This is the same man who was once persuaded that it was acceptable to kill Christians. What a testimony of the love of God, and the rejoicing that surely took place among the angels in Heaven upon Paul’s conversion. If we can fulfill the Lord’s call in 2 Corinthians 6:17 to come out from among and be separate from the things of this world, we will find it so much easier to remain inseparable from Him.
Michael was born and raised in the church and grew up in Chicagoland, spending the majority of his life on the north side of Chicago. In March of 2014, he was set up on a blind date with a young lady named Becca, and just 11 months later they were married. Since January 2016, they have served as Youth Pastors of Generate Student Ministries at The Life Church of Glenview, Illinois.