1 Kings 18:38-40
“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.”
The confrontation on Mt Carmel is almost finished; there is one final act of judgment that must be accomplished. All of the prophets of Baal were to be killed.
This might seem overly severe, but it was necessary. The prophets of Baal had infested the land with pagan idolatry and had led the Israelites into false worship that included sexual rituals and the horror of child sacrifice. The prophets of Baal had also (under orders from Jezebel) hunted down and killed the prophets of the Lord.
While the people of Israel suffered terribly because of the three year drought, the prophets of Baal lived in the luxury of the king’s house in Samaria.The depth of the corruption that the prophets of Baal brought to Israel warranted the judgment of death.
Most importantly, Elijah knew what the Law of Moses said regarding false prophets: “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” (Deuteronomy 13.5)
There is a deeper teaching point here. Just as Elijah put to death the false prophets of Baal, so the New Testament tells us to put to death idolatry in our life. We are to put to death anything in our life that resists or rebels against God’s standards.
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3.5-8)
The book of Romans communicates the same message: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8.13).
Paul’s point is this:
Put to death the sin in your life, or it will damage you and eventually destroy you.
How do you “put to death” sin in your life? The answer is to stop feeding it. Starve it to death. Suffocate it. Remove what feeds it. Sinful attitudes and actions have a source that must be cut off.
What does it mean to do this “by the Spirit?” The answer is several things:
- Set your mind on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8.5-8). This means reading scripture, meditating on scripture, listening and absorbing sound teaching.
- Pray continuously. Remember the ACTS framework for prayer? Adoration (praise and worship God), Confession (acknowledge your sin to Him), Thanksgiving (express gratitude to the Lord), Supplication (ask and make your requests to God). This is how you pray in the Spirit.
- Fellowship with other believers who are committed to the lordship of Christ. Talk about what you are learning and doing. Share your challenges and opportunities. Have real conversations. Pray together.
Again, just as Elijah had no mercy on the prophets of Baal, we must have no mercy on anything in our life that is “earthly” or idolatrous or corrupt. Put to death anything that resists or rebels against God’s standards or that distorts or damages your relationship with the Lord. Have no mercy. Put to death the sin in your life, or it will damage you and eventually destroy you.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4.8)