One problem that God’s people have faced from the beginning is syncretism. That may be a word you are not familiar with. Most of us know what it means to synchronize our watches. You make it the same time as another watch. That is the idea of syncretism. You make your values, practices, and world view match that around you so you can fit in. This was a challenge for God’s people from day one.
In ancient times, one of the indications of which deity a family honors can be found in the names of the children. For example. Yesha-yahu (Isaiah in English) means something like Yahweh is deliverer. Hizqi-yahu (Hezekiah) means Strength of Yahweh. Eli-yahu (Elijah) means My God is Yahweh.
What is interesting is what some folks in the Bible named their children. For instance:
“... Saul became the father of Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab and Eshbaal (1 Chr 8:33).” Notice the last son in this list. It means “Man of Baal.” The text continues, “The son of Jonathan was Merib-baal, ... (1 Chr 8:34).” It seems that Jonathan followed suit. His son was Merib-baal, which means “Baal is advocate.”
A hoard of recently published documents from 4th century Palestine shows that it continued to be a problem. For instance, there is a mention of Qosyatib which means Qos (an Edomite deity) will restore/answer. The name of this man's father was Hananyah (In English it would be Hananiah), which means grace of Yahweh. Do you see the problem of syncretism here?
When we come to the New Testament, the problem still existed for the Church. 1 Cor 8-10 discuss the problem among other things of eating in a banquet in honor of a pagan deity. Paul makes very clear that he does not want these Christians to be sharers at the altar with demons (1 Cor 10:20). He returns to this theme again in another letter to Corinth:
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers ... what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 6:14 - 7:1).”
The implications are enormous and the instruction is clear. We are a holy people. We are not of this world. We are out of step with the world by design. What does that mean when the rubber meets the road? It means things such as this: Don’t even think of dating one outside of Christ. Choose a career that will not interfere with godliness. Choose a college that will honor God. Make a conscious decisions to choose your friends wisely. When you became a Christian, you were given a new name. You are a child of God. You belong to him.