Today I am reading in Deuteronomy 13, which is in the Old Testament of the Bible, and which is a teaching under the Old Covenant Relationship God had with his people at that time. So, not all of this is going to apply to us, the church, today. Yet, some of this is repeated in the New Testament, under the New Covenant Relationship God now has with his people, his church.
And, even though not all of this applies to us specifically, the Bible teaches us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV).
So, what this is saying is that there is something we can learn from this passage of scripture which can be applied to our lives. But, we must interpret it in light of the New Covenant Relationship God has with those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And, we must look to see if what is being taught, too, is repeated under New Covenant teaching.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 ESV
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which 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 know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Is this teaching or something similar to it repeated in the New Testament under the New Covenant? Yes! All throughout the New Testament we are warned against false prophets and teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing who would try to lead us astray from our pure devotion to our Lord to follow after a gospel of men. And, we are told not to listen to them, too, and to not be fooled or deceived by them, but to remain true to the Word of God.
We are warned in the New Testament against those who are trying to put yokes of slavery on us that are not from God. These are those who are adding fleshly works and religious rituals on to the gospel of grace, but they are also those who are diluting the gospel of our salvation to appeal to the flesh of humans. Either way, it is still a gospel of men, and not of God.
So, if we tell people that they have to dress a certain way, according to our standards, not God’s, or that they have to abstain from certain foods, or that they have to go to a specific place on a specific day of the week in order to worship God, etc., then we are following and we are teaching a gospel of men, not of God.
And, if we tell them that faith in Jesus Christ means merely that they are forgiven their sins and they now have heaven secured, and if we tell them or if we lead them to believe that they can be saved from their sins and still make sin their practice, and that God does not require repentance or obedience under the New Covenant, then we are also following and we are teaching a gospel of men, not of God.
So, we are not to listen to and we are not to follow after those who are teaching true legalism (adherence to externals for our salvation) or those who are teaching liberalism (liberty to continue in sinful practices) under God’s grace. For, both of these are fleshly and not of God.
Yet, the Lord does allow us to be exposed to these false teachings, not that he permits us to sit under such teaching, but he makes us aware of them. And, sometimes he will allow people in our lives who will try to persuade us one way or the other, or who will come against us to try to trip us up, and this is in order to test us in our faith.
It is to test us to see whether we love the Lord our God will all our heart and soul, and to see if we will back down or if we will remain steadfast in our faith despite opposition and despite the temptation to abandon the true gospel of grace to follow after a gospel of men. So, when we are opposed, or when we are being tempted to abandon the truth in order to follow after a lie, it will be a test that will reveal our faith to be genuine or false.
Deuteronomy 13:4 ESV
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”
Is this teaching repeated in the New Testament, under the New Covenant? Absolutely! This message is interwoven all throughout New Testament scriptures. We are told continually that we must walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh if we want to have eternal life with God.
We are instructed to walk in the fear of the Lord and not to live to please ourselves. We are commanded that we must keep (obey) our Lord’s commandments, which he summarized into two – to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And, we are commanded to walk in obedience to our Lord, too, for if we don’t, then we don’t love him, and we are not in him, nor him in us.
This is not saying that we must live in sinless perfection or that we will never sin. It is saying, though, that sin is no longer in control of our lives. Sin is no longer our master. Jesus is now our Lord. And, we are now under Holy Spirit control. We don’t walk (in lifestyle) in sin, but we walk in obedience to our Lord in practice, not in perfection.
And, we will understand this truth when we have a true biblical understanding both of God’s grace to us and of his salvation from sin he provided for us through his death on a cross.
For, when Jesus died, he died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. He died that we might now be God’s possession and that we might now honor God with our lives; that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but him who gave his life up for us. But, this is not optional. It is not just a recommendation.
Coming to faith in Jesus Christ means putting our sin to death with Jesus on that cross. And, it means we turn, and we go the opposite direction, and we now follow Jesus and his will and his ways. But, if we don’t, and we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self, then Jesus said we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God.
Yet, this is not about absolute sinless perfection or that we are absolutely still walking in darkness. It has to do with our understanding that our salvation from sin is a lifestyle, that it is daily lived out in our lives, that it is continuous, and that it won’t be complete until Jesus returns for us, his bride, and our marriage relationship with him is consummated.
So, we walk by the Spirit and we don’t make sin our practice. For, if we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. For, we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But, if we sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life.
[See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14; Gal. 5:19-24; Gal. 6:7-8; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21.]
So, don’t be led astray by those who would try to lead you astray. Walk after the Lord, and fear him, and keep his commandments. Serve him, hold fast to him, turn away from your sins, and follow Jesus with your lives.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Hymn lyrics and music by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
*copyright status is public domain