A Little Bit of Sin is Never In
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A Little Bit of Sin is Never In

Having problems knowing what to keep and what to get rid of when practicing any mind-body exercise? If you are in martial arts or yoga, check this out. I have copied this over from my Wordpress blog site for easy access.

By Sensei Charlaine Engelhardt 1998
Faith Fighters for Christ
*Special notes for Yoga practitioners appear in italics at the end. ~Charlaine Martin

                                                         2 Chronicles 18; 1 Kings 22

As Christians in a sport and art from Asia, we grapple with concerns over Eastern religious practices that come to us intertwined with our art/sport. Inquiring of God and obeying is the only way to deal with this, as we will see in these parallel passages.
For the purpose of this study, we will focus on Jehosaphat, King of Judah who ruled around 800BC for 25 years. He was 35 years old when he took to the throne (Israel split into two different kingdoms in 931BC, Israel and Judah). He was old enough to have learned a bit about the kingship from his father. He also saw the consequences of disobeying God by watching the results of his father's disobedience and Israel's idolatrous practices. He cleaned up Judah by ridding Israel of the Asherah poles with it’s pagan shrines. He taught the people of Judah God's law, but they still continued some of the idol worship from earlier. What really hurt Jehosaphat was when he and Ahab, King of Israel, made an alliance sealing it with the marriage of their children. In 2 Chronicles 21:6, Jehosaphat's son Jehoram who becomes wicked like Ahab is married to Ahab's daughter,a Baal worshipper.

Ahab invited Jehosaphat to join with him to defeat the Arameans who practically surrounded Israel on the northeast side and ran down to the Jabbok River, not far from Judah. That possibility intrigued Jehosaphat, not to mention Ahab buttered him up with a wonderful feast at the time of the proposal of this joint venture. So, Jehosaphat said yes, but added that they should ask God about it. Ahab, who wasn’t stupid, brought out his "Yes Men" prophets who told him to go ahead, God would be with them. One of the 400 prophets even accentuated the “Go Ahead” illustrating that with the iron horns he fashioned they would gore the Arameans.

Jehosaphat asked for a prophet of God instead so he could hear what God had to say about this. He was concerned he hadn't heard from God, but he didn't want to insult his ally. After all, alliances between countries in the Old Testament were binding and Judah really benefited from having Israel on it's side. At this request, Ahab grumbled that this one never says anything good about him, but brought out the only prophet of God anyway.

The prophet Micaiah who was told to go along with the king sarcastically said to go and God would be with them. But Ahab knew he was lying and told the prophet to tell him the truth. We find out why Ahab didn't have him come out because Micaiah told Ahab that he would die in this battle. He also told them that a lying spirit was sent by God to speak through the prophets to have him killed by one of his fiercest enemies. Micaiah's reward for his truthfulness was a trip to prison and a slap in the face by the prophet who had the iron horns. The assumption is made that Micaiah never came out of the prison.

It seems that the fear of reprisal by saying, “No,” to his ally was more important to Jehosaphat than obedience to God. They both went into battle together. Ahab, disguised as a soldier, died of an arrow wound, just as God said. Jehosaphat was protected by God because he cried out to Him when his life was in danger. Jehosaphat had been set up to be killed, by Ahab, being the only one dressed in royal robes. Jehosaphat didn't seem to realize this or thought he was protecting Ahab from the prophecy. It didn't matter because God used the stray arrow of an enemy to fulfill His prophecy.

Did Jehosaphat learn anything from this? Yes, he did, actually. He went back home and told his prophets to be careful about pronouncing judgement and to please God, not men. He also set up his priests and Levites as judges and told them to fear God and rule justly according to God's Law. God blessed him by winning battles against neighboring enemy countries.

Did Jehosaphat ever goof up again? Yes, he did. He didn't get rid of his idolatrous daughter-in-law who brought her pagan religion with her. He also made the mistake of joining in a business trade venture with Ahab's son and lost his ships and their crews, never obtaining the gold he hoped to acquire. His people were never fully committed to God and were easily pulled back into their previous idolatrous practices.

Application

We can certainly learn a lesson from Jehosaphat's life as Christian martial artists. First, we must take all of the aspects of our art/sport before God and ask Him about it. We do that through prayer, heavy Bible study, and asking Godly men and women for their wise counsel. By scrutinizing every aspect of martial arts under God's "light", we can see the idols and idolatrous practices tossing them out. Second, we need to make sure that what we keep and potentially pass on to our students totally glorifies God. If we bring even a little bit in, we risk steering our students off track with the Lord and we will definitely pay consequences ourselves because of it. Third, if we do bring bits of the Eastern religions and practices in, we need to learn from the consequences of that sin and clean house again.

Steps to Removing Idolatry in our Art/Sport

  1. Martial arts in the secular world usually have Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, and nature worship intertwined with the protocol, symbolism, and physical moves. Identifying these is important to knowing what belongs and what doesn't in our Christian practices. Even if there seems to something "harmless" or have a similar moral base, the foundations are very different between Christianity and the Eastern religions. Pray up before you study these and keep up your own Bible study, or you may be led astray.
  2. Then use a good topical index and concordance along with your Bible (translation or multiple translations, but not a paraphrase!) to look up these terms and issues. A Bible dictionary or lexicon to look up meanings of difficult Bible words could be helpful, too. Remember that things like the words meditation and prayer are common between Christianity and Hinduism and Buddhism, but are vastly different.
  3. They can have both negative and positive views about Christians in martial arts. Those against you should note why they object to it. Those who do not object, you should note why they feel compatibility exists and their concerns about the Eastern religious influence. Find a WWII veteran who served in the Pacific or a Korean War vet who knows the Lord and ask his opinions. We learned the meaning of Bushido from a WWII vet brother in Christ causing us to removed this term from our classes. Look for books and websites like this and those from general Christian writers.
  4. Write the impressions that God has led you to see. Thank God for His wise insight.
  5. Be careful that if you are going to minister through tournaments and seminars with non-Christians that you find alternatives which do not seriously violate protocols in the functions, but are acceptable to you and God. If you are too radical either you will greatly offend the non-Christians and lose a witness opportunity or you will gain a curiosity. Either way, if you feel led to be radically different, be ready to share why and accept the responses (remember Micaiah?).
  6. It is easy to accumulate little idols along the way. If you do, ask God's forgiveness and get rid of it.
  7. If your association, Grandmaster, or Sensei are not Christians, they may put pressure on you to "make allowances" for their sake. Many Christians have totally severed ties with their instructors and others in authority over their systems, risking being shunned or lose ranking status. The pressure to give in to Eastern practices is often great. Don't compromise that which God has entrusted to you for anyone.
 
copyrighted 1998 Charlaine Engelhardt, 2014-2015 Charlaine Martin. All rights reserved.

*If you are involved in Yoga, this also is very important for you to consider. Yoga originally came to the U.S. as a religious practice. Even though it is taught as a mind-body exercise in gyms, fitness centers, studios, schools and churches, a tremendous amount of Hindu-Buddhist (aka Zen) influence. The exercises are beneficial. I feel that the symbolism and term “Yoga” should be changed to something that honors God. For more info on this, go to www.PraiseMoves.com.
 
 
 
 

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