Prostitution: to pierce life, becoming bound to action, to work a slow twisting/turning aside.
Every fibre of my flesh wanted to finish this book with Chapter 13. But with the passing of the months I realise that cannot be the case.
Throughout this book I have emphasised the importance of abiding in Christ, maintaining a living communion with Christ and being intimately related to Christ.
Also, I have attempted to draw for you a clear and Biblical picture of what the Body of Christ really is. It is Yeshua the True Vine (and Head of His Church), with the Holy Spirit flowing from the very Presence of the Father through Christ the Vine bringing the Life of Christ into the grafted in branches. The existence of the Body of Christ is centred on the Person of Yeshua the Christ. We can only be part of the Body of Christ if we have been grafted in by God the Father, who is the Sovereign Gardener, and thus have become intimately related to Christ Yeshua and through Him with the Father.
If we take this Biblical picture and set it alongside that which is called the “church” of our modern day we have a major problem.
Instead of Christ being the centre we have denominations and movements being the central focus of the church. You ask the man or woman in the street what they think the church is and they will start rattling off the names of any denominations or movements they have heard of. Or, they will give you the “one true church line” of Catholic, Baptist, Anglican etc.
Let me make this point bluntly, most people who attend church on a regular basis have an intimate relationship with a denomination or movement and they know little of what it is to be part of the Body of Christ, to be intimately related to Yeshua and to abide in Him as the True Vine. All this takes place in an environment, which is rich in knowledge about God, but with no personal experience of the Living God.
This is not a new problem. Israel had an enviable knowledge of God, in fact they had a vast history of the works of God in and through their nation. However, this knowledge did not stop them from departing from intimacy with God.
Isaiah 54:5-6 For your Maker is your husband, The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. For the LORD has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused," Says your God.
From God’s point of view Israel was His wife and He was her Husband. Yet God had to acknowledge, many times, the reality that Israel had turned its back on the intimate relationship of husband and wife which God desired to have with her.
Jeremiah 3: 20 Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel," says the LORD.
Nowhere in Scripture is this situation dealt with more clearly than in the Book of Hosea.
Hosea 5: 4 “They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD.
For me this verse sums up the reality of the deterioration in the relationship between God and Israel. It also sums up the reality of the deterioration in the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Back in Chapter 2 we looked at the significance of the word “know” in describing the level of intimacy that Jesus desires to have with each of His disciples. It is no accident that Hosea should make the statement: “And they do not know the Lord.”
This is the result of a spirit of harlotry, or to express it another way, a spirit of prostitution, coming into the midst of God’s people. Spiritual prostitution cuts us off from the presence of God; it hinders us in maintaining a common union with Christ.
What is harlotry or prostitution in the context of Scripture?
Almost without exception you will discover that when the Bible speaks about harlotry, or prostitution, it is referring to a married woman being unfaithful to her husband. It is a woman exchanging the intimacy of relationship she has with her husband for intimacy with someone who is not her husband.
This is what Israel did in a spiritual sense; they exchanged intimacy of relationship with God for intimacy of relationship with the gods of the nations around them.
One of the chief gods Israel turned to, in preference to Almighty God, was the god known as Baal.
It is this god which features strongly in the Book of Hosea and the presentation there of God’s view of Israel’s’ prostitution.
If you study the word “baal” you will discover that it means “master” or “husband”. However, in Canaanite culture the emphasis in the word Baal was on ownership rather than relationship. If you venture a little deeper into the study of this word you will discover that Baal was the sun god who was believed to have a direct influence on the success or failure of the crops year by year. Hence, one of the other meanings of the word baal is “the controller of human destiny”.
It was primarily for this pagan god that Israel turned its back on the intimacy it had with God Almighty.
What does this have to do with us?
There are two important issues that flow directly from these things we have been looking at. First, there is the matter of intimacy. Second is the matter of who is controlling our destiny?
The Apostle Paul said something, which should disturb us greatly, in reference to the issue of intimacy:
1 Corinthians 6: 15-17 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
This was the whole issue with Israel; they had become “one flesh” with the pagan god baal!
If I read a book, which contains swearing, blasphemy and immoral sexual references am I not joining my eyes to these things? So, it follows that, if I claim to be in Christ that my eyes are part of Christ. In reading that book I have attempted to join Christ to swearing, blasphemy and immoral sex! I have taken Christ and attempted to join Him to a harlot, a prostitute!
The same case exists when I watch a TV show, watch a video, listen to a radio program, or listen to music, which contains any of these things or a host of other things, that I know to be ungodly.
It also means that if I profess to be in Christ then every thought that passes through my mind is being joined to Christ, every word that passes my lips is being joined to Christ.
In each and every one of these cases it is my choice, it is your choice, as to whether we join our bodily members, and thus attempt to join Christ, to ungodly things.
I, above every other professing Christian, am guilty daily of such acts of spiritual prostitution. And it is these very acts of spiritual prostitution that hinder me from entering the fullness of what it is to abide in Christ every moment of every day. It is only as I choose not to join my members to these things and thus cease from attempting to join the Holy One of God to such things, that I will truly begin to walk in the Spirit of Christ, the very Holiness of Christ.
The Apostle Paul is making a very very strong point using the most vivid language and imagery we could envisage. His language and imagery reflect directly the language and imagery of the Book of Hosea!
No self-respecting believer would think for a moment about going out and engaging the services of a prostitute. Paul knew that. Yet he also knew that most professing Christians think nothing of other less obvious acts of spiritual prostitution.
The second issue is equally revealing of where we are at spiritually. Who is controlling my destiny?
Do you realise that when I sit down to read a book, say for an hour, that book has control of my destiny for that hour. When I flop into an armchair to watch TV or videos, as long as I choose to sit there that TV has control of my destiny.
Anything that dictates how we use our time has control of our destiny and is thus a “baal” to us. That destiny can be the next second, the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year and so we could go on.
Our jobs and family have the potential to control our destiny. But in these cases, we must carefully balance our God given responsibility in these areas, as detailed in the Scriptures, against the power of these things to become our “baal”.
The denomination or movement we align ourselves with can be the controller of our destiny. For some of us our whole week revolves around so called “church activities”. Those activities dictate how we spend our time through the week. Because it is a “church activity” no one dares to question the potential of these activities to be a “baal”. Many have turned their backs on maintaining a living communion with Christ in favour of “church activities”. Foe many of us we have ceased to think twice about the fact that we are failing to fulfil our God given responsibility to our families or to our jobs, because of the constant rounds of “church activities” that drive our lives.
If you doubt what I am saying then the next time you are sitting in a church business meeting, which is the central forum for discussing “church activities”, focus your attention on the questions: Who is in control here? Does Christ have sole control over the decisions being made or is someone or something else controlling the destiny of this church and these people?
Personally, I have never sat in a church business meeting where I could have asked these questions and come up with the answer that would satisfy the Scriptures or more importantly that would satisfy Christ as the Head of the Church, His Body.
Anything less than abiding in Christ, maintaining a living communion with Him as both our Lord and Master, will result in acts of spiritual prostitution.
There is a desperate need, both individually and corporately, for us to confess our numerous acts of spiritual prostitution.
Hosea 6:1-3 Come and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
We must repent of seeking to know God in an intellectual way and we must seek to know Him by abiding in Christ and maintaining a living common union with His Son and our Saviour.
Our repentance must follow the pattern outlined by Peter in Acts 3:17-21 as rendered in Weusts’ translation of the NT:
And now brothers, I know positively that in ignorance you did it, even as also your chief men. But the things, which God announced fully beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets that His Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Therefore, repent at once, instantly changing your attitude, and perform a right-about-face in order that your sins may be obliterated, in order that there may come epoch-making periods of spiritual revival and refreshment from the presence of the Lord,
We must change our attitude towards books, TV, videos, radio, music and everything else that seeks an intimate relationship with us and which seeks to control our destiny and thus undermine our maintenance of a living common union with Christ as our Life. We must perform a right-about-face regarding these things and having turned our backs on these things then we should heed the Apostle Paul’s’ advice to Timothy RUN!!
Not until this happens, individually and corporately, in respect to every act of spiritual prostitution will we know the obliteration of the sin of spiritual prostitution from our lives and the coming of periods of genuine spiritual revival and refreshment from the very presence of the Lord.
Unless we are in Christ, having repented in this way for our acts of spiritual prostitution, we will not be found in the presence of the Lord and we will not be able to experience revival and refreshing.
Everyone in Christendom seems to be crying out for revival, but Christendom is more than reticent to address the need for repentance from our acts of spiritual prostitution and to make the whole issue of abiding in Christ the central focus of the life and witness of every believer to the point where every denomination, every man inspired doctrine, emphasis or church activity fades into oblivion.
Philippians 3: 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.