Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 17 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 13:1-4 — “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder… and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’… you shall not listen…. 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. 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.”
Today, more than any other time in history, people are being bombarded with “evidence” to counter the word of God, all false evidence, but enough to lead many astray. Are you firm in your faith?
Deuteronomy 13:4, 5 — “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…. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Obedience to God means removing those things in your life that dishonor Him. Does your entertainment honor God? Does what you read, watch, and listen to strengthen your purity or hinder it? Are your best friends Christ followers working with you to glorify God? “Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be built up, if you remove injustice far from your tents, if you lay gold in the dust, and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed, then the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and lift up your face to God. You will make your prayer to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. For when they are humbled you say, ‘It is because of pride’; but he saves the lowly. He delivers even the one who is not innocent, who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.” Make God your absolute treasure; purge the evil from your life; and live as a powerful Christian. (Job 22:21-30)
Deuteronomy 13:11 – “And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.”
Punishment is not just for the person being punished but also for others in order that they may learn and not do the same thing the one who was punished did. Part of wisdom is understanding what you haven’t experienced – learning from observing consequences (good and bad) in the lives of others. The accounts in the Bible were provided that we might gain wisdom – “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) But note, that ultimately, the Bible is not just pointing us to instructions for better living but to the One “on whom” all outcomes rest, “on whom” we have faith and hope. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4) The whole Bible points to Jesus.
Galatians 3:24-26 — “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
The law is the word of God, the manifestation of His character and His will. It is not outside of His will. Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law but rather to fulfill it. The law serves as a curb (to keep you on the right track), a mirror (to reveal your sin to you), and a guide (to show you where to go). The law sets boundaries for those who need boundaries. However, the law in itself cannot change a person’s heart. Only Jesus can change a person’s heart. When a person has a heart for Jesus, they no longer need the boundaries of the law because they no longer have a heart for sin. Many obey the law because they are scared not to obey. Many obey the law because they take pride in their self-made righteousness. Many obey the law out of a sense of duty. However, God wants us to love Jesus with all of our hearts so that there is no longer a concern about obeying the law — obedience is the natural product of love. Jesus said that if you obey the Greatest Commandment of Love, the rest of the law will be covered. Likewise, if you disobey the details of the law, you have already disobeyed the law of love. The law cannot save you or change your heart, but if you are disobeying the law you are revealing a problem with your heart that has yet to yield to sanctification. The law does not save, but it still serves as a curb, mirror, and guide where we are not yet perfected in love.
Galatians 3:24 — “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.”
The Law reveals your sinfulness and disobedience which should lead you to repentance and to Jesus. The Law does not save you, but the Law is used by the Holy Spirit to convict you in the process of sanctification, growing closer to God in pursuit of oneness.
Galatians 3:25 — “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
Once again, when you are motivated by genuine love for Jesus, you no longer need the law to control you because love will compel you to obey from a genuine desire. Love is always more powerful than duty or fear of punishment. Many themes are repeated on purpose.
Galatians 3:25, 26 — “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
A person can never achieve righteousness through their own obedience, nor can the law create unconditional love for God in someone’s heart. All require mercy, grace, and salvation through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:27 — “…for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Covered in Christ, you are clothed in His righteousness giving you freedom from condemnation and special access to the Father. You are now free and uniquely empowered to follow God in obedience without fear of rejection from Him or separation from His love.
Galatians 3:28 — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Christians, Ambassadors for Christ, have no business discussing the politics of race, ethnicity, nationality, or any other man-made social stratification which commonly divides society and distracts people from the only topic that truly matters, Jesus. The physical, geographic boundaries that divided population groups and produced different races and cultures and that promoted distrust have no impact on the spiritual world. Today, people seek to find their identity and seek to identify others by their outward attributes — much ungodly pride is involved here. Race, ethnicity, nationality, and gender are not virtues; do not take pride in any of them or show favoritism because of any of them. Man-made stratifications of people do not factor into God’s economy and are almost always used by people for political purposes. There are two classifications of people in the world, followers of Christ and the unsaved. Your mission is to make disciples of all nations and to seek reconciliation between those who are divided from Jesus and each other.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 June 22: Today, consider why you obey God’s commands. Are you obeying out of fear of the consequences of not obeying? Are you obeying out of pride for your own righteousness? Are you obeying to work your way into Heaven? Are you obeying out of a sense of guilt, hoping to make up for past sins? Are you obeying out of a sense of duty, because you know you should? Or, are you obeying out of love, because you have a heart, a passion to please God. When you obey for any reason other than love, you are not really obeying, because the First Commandment and the Greatest Commandment is to have no other God but God and to love Him unconditionally. Pray that God will continue to create in you a pure heart, that you would be wholehearted before Him and obey out of love. None of us love perfectly, but we should strive for ever-increasing Christ-like love, which grows as we grow closer to Him, the Source of Love.