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WILL YOU FORGET YOUR GOD?

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, August 4, 2019

“Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).


The Hebrew word translated “forget” is “shakach.” It can also be translated “to cease to care, to stop caring.” That’s what the people of Israel did. They remembered some facts about God. They remembered some of their history. But they stopped caring about God. Most of them turned to other gods. Almost all of them lived as though the real God wasn’t important. They forgot their God.

There are different kinds of forgetting. There is the normal, everyday forgetting. We forget things all the time. Have you tried to remember – but it wasn’t there in your mind? It just slipped away. It may be a name, or a number, or where you put something. Maybe you learned it a long time ago, or a few minutes ago – but suddenly it’s not there. It can be frustrating. It happens to me. It happens to you.

Our text isn’t talking about the forgetting that everyone has. It’s not the absent-mindedness that comes when you get old. This is a deeper forgetting. You can remember a few facts, a few things that happened. The people of Israel did. But those things are in the back of your mind, not the front. You can remember, but in a deeper way you forget! This kind of forgetting is a letting go. You stop thinking about something very much. It’s not deep in your mind. You still remember it as a fact, but you let it go. You “cease to care.” You stop caring about it. Let me tell you what I mean.

I went to high school almost fifty years ago. For four years, Monday to Friday, every week, I was in the same school and the same classes with the same people. I knew a lot about them. We all knew about each other. When graduation came, our high school days were over. We wouldn’t see each other much. Some people cried. They wrote notes to each other, “Love always,” or “Friends forever.” But only a few of them stayed close.

I put myself on an electronic list of my high school class. About twice a year someone looks at my name. That’s not much. But there are a few people who act like they were still there! They send messages. They tell what happened to them. They want to get together. They plan meetings and invite everyone. High school is still in the front of their mind. They didn’t forget.

Yes, I remember my high school time. I remember some of the names and some of the things that happened. But I don’t think about it much. It doesn’t affect my life now. It’s in the back of my mind, but it doesn’t matter now. I remember some of it, but like the people of Israel, I “forgot” it. Tonight I want to give you two points about that kind of forgetting.

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I. First, the people of Israel forgot their God.

After Moses died, the people went into the Promised Land. But later they forgot the God who brought them in. Soon they turned to other gods. The Bible says,

“The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and [forgot] the Lord their God, and served Baalim” (Judges 3:7).

It wasn’t normal forgetting. They still remembered some facts about God. But they stopped worshipping Him. They “ceased to care.” They stopped caring. That’s why they worshipped the false god Baal. It wasn’t something they did once and never again. They did this for many years. It wasn’t simple forgetting. It was deep in their hearts.

How did this happen? Our text says,

“Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

That’s exactly what they did! They got set up in the Promised Land with their houses and their flocks and their silver and gold. They were happy in themselves. Their hearts were lifted up. They didn’t need God. They let Him go. They stopped caring.

Yes, they remembered in their minds that God had brought them out of Egypt. They heard that over and over at Passover. They knew something about the real God. After all, the Tabernacle was there. And there were still some people in Israel who worshipped the real God. So the people knew something about Him. What they did wasn’t normal forgetting. It was much deeper. They dropped God out of their thinking. They dropped Him out of their lives. They stopped caring about Him. They “forgot” their God.

II. Second, will you forget your God?

Why am I talking about this? You say, “I haven’t forgotten God.” But I must warn you. You may very well forget Him. “Forgetting” is a major problem in our church. It doesn’t just apply to God Himself. It applies to your life and your culture. Last Sunday night I preached a sermon, “How to Be a Successful Christian.” I asked you to read the Bible and meditate on it every day. I asked you to pray every day. I asked you to read the sermon manuscripts every week. I kept saying “every,” because “every” is what makes a strong Christian. A weird and emotional person can do something once. I’m talking about the habits of your life. I’m talking about the culture of the church. Anyone can hear something and walk away. But will you do it – and keep on doing it? The Bible says,

“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:22-24).

If you hear something and walk away without doing it, you are a forgetter. You have forgotten what you heard. The Bible says you are like a man who looks at himself in a mirror and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. Then the Bible says,

“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed” (James 1:25).

If you do what the Bible says, you won’t be a forgetter.

What do I mean, don’t forget? I mean the real, deep kind of forgetting. I mean, don’t forget about something when the preacher isn’t talking about it that day, or that week! Don’t stop caring, don’t “cease to care” just because it isn’t right in front of you that day.

What am I talking about? Let’s start with the simple things of the Christian life. Keep reading your Bible every day. Keep meditating on the Bible every day. Keep praying every day. Keep coming to the meetings on time. Keep reading the sermon manuscripts each week. If you miss once, don’t give up. Get up and do it right the next time.

Sooner or later the sermons won’t preach about those things. We will preach about something else. Will you remember them and do them anyway, even though we haven’t preached about them for months, or will you stop caring? Will you “cease to care”? Will you forget?

Will you forget about supporting your church? You have heard that the Christians were in “one accord” on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). You know the Bible says, “That ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10). You know the Bible says, “Mark then which cause divisions...and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

Yes, you know these things. But will you remember them, or will you forget them? Chan the Apostate and his followers heard these things. They still remember them in their minds. But they “forgot” them when their time came. They ceased to care. They stopped caring. They forgot what the Bible says. They forgot God. What about you?

You say, “I won’t forget.” But will you forget years from now when we aren’t preaching about church splits and church loyalty? We won’t preach about that forever. We will preach on salvation. We will preach on evangelism. We will preach on prophecy. We will preach on the great truths of the Bible. What will you do when you are tested? Will you remember, or will you forget?

Why is this so important? Because it’s the difference between a good Christian and a weird, emotional person. You can hear everything and applaud everything, but if you forget it later – even if you can still say the Bible verse – it will do you no good. It’s the difference between a good culture and a bad one. It’s the difference between a good church and an inner-city mess. If you forget everything, you’ll never be a strong Christian. We’ll never have a good culture. We’ll never have a strong church. May God give us a good church!

Why is remembering and forgetting so important? Because it will cost you your soul! Some of you here are still lost. You have not trusted Jesus. You have heard that you’re a sinner. You’ve heard that you can’t save yourself. You know that Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sin. You know that He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. You know you need to trust Jesus. You have heard these things many times. You remember them in your mind. You can repeat them with your mouth.

But you haven’t trusted Jesus! Why not? Because you have forgotten the truth! You forget it as soon as you walk out of a meeting. You’re like the man in the Bible who looks at himself in a mirror and walks away, forgetting what he looks like. You remember the words in your head, but you have forgotten what they mean. You forget the God who spoke them, and you forget the Christ who died for you. Why is that? Because you don’t really care. You forget in the same way the Israelites did. You cease to care. You stop caring. You aren’t converted because you don’t really care about it. You don’t really want to be saved. Yes, you know you aren’t saved. You would “like” to get it over with and go on with your life. But you don’t really care about your soul. If you remembered your sin in a real way, you’d be saved soon enough. If you remembered Christ in a real way, you’d be converted soon enough. The problem is that you forget. You cease to care. You don’t really want to remember, because it isn’t important to you.

I hope that it will be important to some of you. I hope you will care for your soul. Jesus cares for your soul. That’s why He died for you. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come and stand at the front of the room now. Amen.


THE OUTLINE OF

WILL YOU FORGET YOUR GOD?

by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).

I.    First, the people of Israel forgot their God, Judges 3:7.

II.   Second, will you forget your God? James 1:22, 24, 25;
Acts 2:1; I Corinthians 1:10; Romans 16:17.