As followers of Jesus Christ, we read the Bible, not just for intellectual enlightenment, and not just as a history book or as a book of poetry, or as part of an English Literature Class. We read the Bible (Genesis to Revelation) because we believe it to be the Word of God. Therefore, we read it so we can learn about God, so we can learn to know God, and so we can learn, too, how to walk with God and to live for him; for Jesus Christ, our Lord.
So, we go into the Word of God expecting to hear from God as to how we should live our lives to be pleasing to him. But, if we are reading in the Old Testament, that could present some difficulties for us who are followers of Jesus Christ, who are under the New Covenant Relationship God has with his church. For, much of the Old Testament’s instructions to the people of God of that time were under the Old Covenant, and a large portion of those instructions do not apply specifically to us who believe in Jesus Christ.
So, what do we do with those passages of scripture which are under the Old Covenant, i.e. which are for those of that time period who were under the law and not under grace? We first of all learn the truth of this NT scripture:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NIV).
Even if it was not written specifically to us, and even if some of those instructions and most of those laws, back then, do not directly apply to us today, we can still learn about God, get to know God, and learn how to live to please God. So, as we look into Deuteronomy, chapter 13, I pray that we will seek God’s face as to what we can learn from this passage which we can apply to our lives, and which is consistent with New Covenant teachings.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 NASB
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
For brevity’s sake, I am not quoting the entire chapter, so I will let you know here that this is not directed solely to those or about those who call themselves “prophets” or “teachers” or “preachers” of the Word. The passage goes on to include family members and neighbors and friends and even strangers (people we don’t know), there called “worthless men.”
If anyone, in other words, no matter who they are or what title they have or what they may call themselves, tries to entice us, who believe in Jesus, to follow after other gods or another Jesus, or another gospel other than the one taught by Jesus and his NT apostles, we should not listen to them. We should not even consider in our minds and hearts anything opposed to what Jesus taught us, and we should not yield to them and begin to follow them.
So we should test what we hear against the teachings of the New Testament (in context) to see if what we are being persuaded to believe actually aligns with what Jesus and his NT apostles taught. And, “context” is most critical, for many false teachings are based off of a handful of scriptures taken out of context and made to say whatever the enticer wants us to believe.
So, just because they use scripture doesn’t mean they are telling you the truth. Read the scriptures in the context in which they are written and then compare scripture with scripture and you will then see the “whole counsel” of God, and not half-truth gospels disguised as the whole truth. For, there are many liars and deceivers among us who would try to persuade us that we don’t have to repent of our sins, and we don’t have to obey God, and that we can live in sin and still have the hope of heaven when we die.
But, we should know that our God is absolutely sovereign over all that he has made and that he is allowing this in our lives to test us, to see if we truly love HIM with all our hearts and with all our souls.
Deuteronomy 13:4-5 NASB
“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.”
So, what is the test? I mean what is the measure that shows if we truly love God as we say we do? It is that we must obey God’s commands, the ones he gave us under the New Covenant, which are summarized in two, which has to do with loving God and loving our fellow humans.
And, this part is all over the New Testament, which says that to love God is to obey him, and to love him is to love others. For, if we don’t walk in obedience to his commands and his ways, and we hate others instead of loving them, we don’t love God and we don’t really know God and we don’t have a relationship with him or the promise of eternal life with Him.
The NT also says we must walk in the fear of the Lord, which is to honor God as the holy God that he is, to walk in his ways and in his truth, to obey him, to revere and respect him, and to worship him in spirit and in truth.
The NT, as well, teaches that we must listen to his voice, serve him, and cling to him. Jesus said that his sheep (his followers) listen to his voice and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands, not those who merely make a profession of faith in Christ but who are still walking after the flesh and not according to the Spirit.
For, Jesus redeemed us (bought us back for God) from that empty way of life in which we once walked when we were still dead in our sins. He delivered us from our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we might live for him and to his righteousness – all in his power at work within our lives.
So, believing in Jesus means we die with him to sin and we live with him to righteousness in godliness and holiness, for the praise and glory of God, and not for ourselves.
So, if anyone tries to seduce us to believe that we don’t have to leave our lives of sin behind us, and that we can still walk according to our flesh, and live to please our sinful cravings, and that heaven is still guaranteed us, don’t listen. Don’t be deceived, but reject that evil so that you are not led astray from your pure devotion to Jesus Christ in order to go after the gods of this world and of your own flesh.
Deuteronomy 13:17-18 NASB
“Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.”
What is “under the ban”? Anything which God calls sin, which does harm to others, such as lies, stealing, adultery, false accusations, gossip, slander, murder, abuse, and taking advantage of others for our own advantage. These things should be far from us. Impurity, sexual immorality, lies, deception, trickery, adultery, etc. should have no part in our lives, either through active participation in such things or by being entertained by them via other people’s lives or via make-believe (novels, movies and plays).
God’s grace to us is not just that he took our punishment for sin for us on a cross so we could escape punishment (eternal damnation) and go to heaven when we leave this earth. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return.
So, if we want to be forgiven our sins, bound for heaven, and be recipients of God’s grace, mercy and compassion, then we must die with Christ to sin (daily) and live (daily) with him to righteousness, not in trying to earn our salvation, but as part of our saving faith. We have to listen to him, and do what he says, and do what is right in his sight. We don’t have to be perfect people, but we do have to listen and follow and obey as a matter of course, as a matter of our lifestyle, if we want to be guaranteed heaven.
[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14; Jn. 10:27-30.]
An Original Work / October 5, 2018
Based in part off Proverbs 27
Better is Love’s chastisement
From a friend,
Than to have your sins coddled
To no end.
Wisdom is seeing danger –
Flees from sin,
Trusting in your Redeemer,
Jesus is your salvation –
Freed from sin –
Giving you life eternal,
Trusting in His provisions,
Simply by giving your life
All to Him.
Living your life for Jesus
Tell of His mighty power,
Lives to save.
Listening to Him speaking
To your heart,
Tell of His grace which gave you
A new start.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018 – Jesus, I can never give you enough thanks for saving my soul, not just from hell, but from the destruction of my own life which came about via yielding to sin’s sway, while I still live on this earth. Thank you for rescuing me from that pit, and for giving me hope and healing. Amen!