2 Chronicles 12:1-14 (Part 1) – Behavior Modification vs. Soul Transformation

Posted: August 17, 2020 in 14-2 Chronicles

2 Chronicles 12:1-14 (Part 1 of 2)

Egypt Invades Judah

Opening Illustration/Comments

Have you ever noticed that when things are going bad, people will promise God that they will follow His instructions for life, and that they will go to church regularly, and a whole laundry list of obediences to the Lord that they will undertake. It will last a while and then they begin to fall back into old habits. It becomes evident that there has been no life change, just temporary behavior modification.

We’ve all been there. Promises made to do better. Promises will be kept for a while and then we fall away and return to our old lifestyle. There’s always some event that triggers it. Personal issues with someone you love because of something you did. A bad hangover. A near death experience because of stupid decisions. A traffic accident survived. A bad breakup of a romantic relationship. Among many others. Any bad event or just a stretch of where multiple things happen and pile on top of each other to break you down to your knees in frustration, pain, anger and sorrow. These things often lead us back to church and a brief period of living what we perceive to be the Christian life. Then, the fun, as you perceive it, of your old life keeps calling and pulling at you to return to your old lifestyle. A dabble her and a dabble there. And then you are full-fledged back to your old behaviors. We all seen it in others and we have been this person.

In this passage, Rehoboam was close to the Lord in his early years. Then as success came he drifted away from the Lord. Then a crisis to the kingdom came and then he all of sudden starts begging the Lord to bail Him out of the jam Judah was in. After the crisis was over, he went back to his old ways. It is stories like these in the Old Testament is the reason I love the Old Testament. It is us. We are so them. All the characters in the Old Testament are so completely flawed, it helps me to see that I am not the only one who has had a rocky relationship with the Lord. They are us and we are them. The Old Testament is a mirror to ourselves.

I think this passage really brings up the question of the sincerity of a person’s salvation. There is a difference between reformation and transformation. There is a difference between a “spiritual warm-fuzzy” and true salvation. You often see this in our lives. We may have it as children when there is a mass of kids that come forward to accept Christ as their Savior and you wonder if it is just peer pressure and not wanting to be different that causes many to come forward. You see it among teenagers when they go away for church camp. You see it in revivals in a similar fashion among adults. Are these salvations for real or just for appearances sake? Are these true salvations or just a momentary spiritual warm-fuzzy?

It was Galatians 5:22-23 that tells us,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

We cannot judge another man’s soul. We cannot peer inside to see whether another person has true salvation or not. Those issues remain and will always be between that person and God. All that we can do in these situations is analyze the outward evidence. We can see whether life change actually occurs or not. If we are transformed. We will believe in our hearts that we lead with love instead of hate. We will foster joy rather than cause sorrow, seek peace instead of seek out or continue war, we will have forebearance instead of quick temper, we will be kind instead of haughty with others, we will seek that which is good instead of that which is bad, we will be faithful in our words, deeds, and actions rather than just what is expedient for my image or my pleasure or my gain, we will be gentle rather violent. We will have self-control instead of constantly giving in to our passions and desires. These will be the noticeable difference between a person that is truly saved vs. a person who is simply trying to impose their self-will to do better. Salvation occurs from the inside out and not the outside in.

It is that idea of the behavior modification that occurs in some of us when we are in crisis in our lives that I thought about this morning when reading this passage, 2 Chronicles 12:1-`4. Let’s read through it this morning, together, with that idea in mind:

Scripture Passage

Chapter 12

1 But when Rehoboam was firmly established and strong, he abandoned the Law of the Lord, and all Israel followed him in this sin. 2 Because they were unfaithful to the Lord, King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem in the fifth year of King Rehoboam’s reign. 3 He came with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horses,[a] and a countless army of foot soldiers, including Libyans, Sukkites, and Ethiopians.[b] 4 Shishak conquered Judah’s fortified towns and then advanced to attack Jerusalem.

5 The prophet Shemaiah then met with Rehoboam and Judah’s leaders, who had all fled to Jerusalem because of Shishak. Shemaiah told them, “This is what the Lord says: You have abandoned me, so I am abandoning you to Shishak.”

6 Then the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The Lord is right in doing this to us!”

7 When the Lord saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem. 8 But they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”

9 So King Shishak of Egypt came up and attacked Jerusalem. He ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace; he stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. 10 King Rehoboam later replaced them with bronze shields as substitutes, and he entrusted them to the care of the commanders of the guard who protected the entrance to the royal palace. 11 Whenever the king went to the Temple of the Lord, the guards would also take the shields and then return them to the guardroom. 12 Because Rehoboam humbled himself, the Lord’s anger was turned away, and he did not destroy him completely. There were still some good things in the land of Judah.

Summary of Rehoboam’s Reign

13 King Rehoboam firmly established himself in Jerusalem and continued to rule. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the Lord had chosen from among all the tribes of Israel as the place to honor his name. Rehoboam’s mother was Naamah, a woman from Ammon. 14 But he was an evil king, for he did not seek the Lord with all his heart.

Passage Analysis

In this passage, we see that during his first three years on the throne, Rehoboam made the efforts to obey God. As a result, Judah prospered. Then, at the peak of his popularity and power, he abandoned his obedience to God. The result was destruction because God allowed Judah to be conquered by Egypt. How could this have happened? Often, we find that it is more difficult to be an obedient child of God in the good times of life than it is in the bad. Tough times tend to push us toward God, but easy times can make us feel self-sufficient and self-important. When everything is going good for us, that is the time that we must guard our faith the most.

Life Application

I think the thing that we need to takeaway this morning is that if our salvation is true, even if it occurs in the midst of a crisis, the change in us will be fundamental. When we have a crisis and have a spiritual warm-fuzzy moment, we will be trying to change ourselves through our own power. We try to be good. However, it proves to be too big of a burden to modify our behavior and we return to our old ways. When we go through a crisis and it profoundly makes us realize that we are unable to handle our lives and that we have made a mess of it and we cry out to Jesus, the salvation is true. When we get to those moments in our lives when we realize that we have really messed up our lives, and we fall on our knees in true humility with no more pretenses of bargaining with God and we ask Him into our lives and beg Him like a beggar to change us from the inside out, the salvation is true.

You will know it when the Holy Spirit enters your soul at that moment. You begin to look at life in a whole new way and its not about do’s and don’t’s to you anymore. It’s about loving God. It’s about thanksgiving to God for turning your life around. It’s about live a life of joy through that thanksgiving to the Lord. It’s about being so in love with what God has done in you that you don’t see obeying His commands as drudgery anymore. You see it as God protecting you from things that will harm you. You feel it that life is different. The sins that you used to enjoy are now becoming revolting to you as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you. You earnestly seek the Holy Spirit to change you and move you away from your own selfishness toward a more Christ-like life. You no longer see the Bible as some gobblygook but rather Words of Life. You begin to understand more and more by reading and studying God’s Word.

Others may not be able to judge or discern what’s going on in your soul but they can notice the complete change in you through the evidence of life change in you. People can see the fruit of the Spirit dwelling in you. When we to try to fake salvation, it is all about behavior reformation. When salvation is real, it is all about soul transformation. Behavior follows the nature of our souls. Only through the true, humble acceptance of Christ as our Savior can, then, the Holy Spirit come to dwell in us and change us from the inside out. Then our souls are transformed to be more and more like Christ each day. Transformation instead of temporary modification.

Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s