When Elijah the prophet called for Ahab to gather all Israel to Mount Carmel, he started his address with the following words: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him. But if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).
In other words, Elijah was asking people to make up their minds and stop trying to serve both God and Baal.
This same statement needs to be said today. Many “Christians” are just those to whom Elijah was speaking. They want to think of themselves as Christians, they want others to think of them as Christians, but they also want to be like the world. While they may not be serving “Baal” as such, they are serving a god of their choosing and are trying to keep a foot on either side of the fence.
This is not possible if a person truly wants to be a Christian. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
The world is a place Christians must live in, but we must not be like the world (Galatians 5:19-25). Paul tells us that the liberty that we have in Christ is to be used to serve others and not to sin. Walking in the Spirit, — following the word of God — we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
This is why we must make a decision as to who we are going to follow, like Israel of old. Trying to “ride the fence” is hypocrisy and deception. This deception is dangerous because it will cause us to “harden” our hearts to the truth of God’s word.
Paul wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Some worship the “god” of riches. This god will enslave and capture the heart of any who will fall down before it. “For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
While money is needed to have a home, food, clothing and the like, the desire for it must be watched carefully. Some begin to let their wants get the best of them and miss opportunities to worship God or study his word. Before long, the feeling of remorse that such an opportunity has been missed is no longer there, and it becomes easier to miss services even more.
Jesus warned us against covetousness. “And he said unto them, ‘Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth’” (Luke 12:15). Sadly, some “Christians” are found in this condition, and Elijah’s question must be asked.
Others worship the “god” of self. Instead of putting God first, they elevate themselves to that position — their wants, their desires, their ways always. Matthew recorded such a person who was selfish. “And, behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?...’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22). He was so caught up in his wants and desires that he could not put them aside to follow the Lord.