Some preachers are foolish enough to proclaim that those who disobey matters of separation, as discussed in this book, cannot be blessed or used of God. That shows a careless study of the Word of God. You need look no farther than Samson to find one who was blessed of God and yet he lived in constant disobedience to God's Word. Jacob is another who was blessed of God during, and in spite of, a life of trickery and family idolatry. Ahab, the most wicked king Israel had, was used of God to defeat the Syrians (I Kings 20). Balaam was used of God to deliver God's message in spite of his "perverse" way (Numbers 22:32).
Someone might ask then, "What difference does it make whether you obey God or not?" Whereas it is true that God did bless and use some who were not right in their actions, he did not bless them as much, nor use them as much as they could have been used had they been right with God in obedience to His Word. Plus, in each case, the disobedience of one had a devastating effect on others.
Let's consider the example of Jehoshaphat. I chose Jehoshaphat because there is no doubt about his love for God and his dedicated life for God. And yet there was an area of disobedience in his life that clearly demonstrates the consequences of disobedience. II Chronicles 17 through 21 gives us his story. In 17:3,4,6, and 12 we read of his dedication to God. "And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim: (3) "But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel. (4) "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and groves out of Judah. (6) "And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and the cities of store." (12)
It is obvious that Jehoshaphat was dedicated to the work of God. Clearly, God blessed him with great riches and power because of his obedience. I Chronicles 18:1 states:
"Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab."
With God's blessings upon him, Jehoshaphat made a serious error. He made a deal with Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. Near the end of the chapter the two kings are defeated in battle, resulting in the death of Ahab. Chapter 19, verses 1-3 state:
"And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.
"And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.
"Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God."
Jehoshaphat's disobedience brought personal and national defeat. God did not allow this to be a complete defeat because of his heart attitude. His disobedience also brought a rebuke from God. His disobedience also caused the death of some in his army. How Christians need to understand that disobedience always hurts others. We never just sin to ourselves. Keep in mind, Jehoshaphat was not a wicked king. He was good. He loved God. He went on to restore the order of worship in the rest of chapter 19. In chapter 20, in answer to Jehoshaphat's prayer, God gave a miraculous victory over his enemies. But notice verses 35-37:
"And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:
"And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber.
"Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish."
Again Jehoshaphat is found making an alliance with a wicked king in Israel. Evidently, in spite of a precious rebuke from God, Jehoshaphat was "not convicted about it yet" that such an alliance was wrong. But whether he was convicted about it or not, it was wrong. God broke his ships.
Jehoshaphat was a good king. He had been blessed of God. But we see him defeated in battle, and defeated in business because of his disobedience in one area of his life. Had he been obedient he would have been blessed more and used more.
We should also be reminded of those who suffered because of his disobedience. The men who died in the battle he never should have had a part in suffered, as well as their families. The men who perished with his ships suffered, as well as their families. A Christian never sins without hurting others. Sometimes their sin keeps a lost person from coming to Christ. Sometimes their sin hurts a young Christian. But the worst result of all has not even been discussed yet — the effect on one's children.
The results discussed thus far of Jehoshaphat's sin are bad enough in themselves, but the effect in his home was devastating. We read in chapter 21, verses 1-4:
"Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. (1)
"And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. (2)
"And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn. (3)
"Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel." (4)
Someone might concede that Jehoram was wicked, but ask, "what does that have to do with Jehoshaphat's sin?" The answer is found in verse 6:
"And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord."
Where did Jehoram learn to walk in the ways of the kings of Israel? Could it have been when he went with his father to Ahab's palace, and then Ahaziah's palace? Shouldn't Jehoram have known better than to marry the ungodly daughter of Ahab and Jezebel? Although Jehoshaphat loved God, his friendship with the wicked cost him his family. Christians cannot be friends with the world, whether it be the world's fashions, the world's amusements, or the world's lifestyles, and keep their children.
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." (James 4:4)
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." (I John 2:15-17)
All of Jehoshaphat's good works did not stop the harvest of his sin. The law of sowing and reaping is still in effect, even for the most sincere Christians. Good service in one area does not excuse disobedience in another. As King Saul learned many years ago, "To obey is better than sacrifice."
Jehoshaphat is not an isolated case Many are the examples in the Scriptures of good men who disobeyed in seemingly small areas, and all their good works did not stop the reaping day. Usually the most devastating result was in their families.
Sure, you can disobey portions of God's Word and still be blessed. But remember, you will not be blessed nor used as much as you could have been, and your disobedience will hurt others. Are you willing to risk the possibility of the result being in your family.