God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today’s reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity and where the downward spiral of sin can lead.
Memorials and the Ten Commandments
Chapter 27.2-3, “… you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you.”
Some people think it’s foolish to make such a big deal about things like having the “Ten Commandments” posted in the schools and other public places. But, apparently, God thinks it’s a pretty good idea to have reminders of the truth! We see God telling His people to set up memorials and reminders over and over in the Scriptures.
The Scriptures themselves are reminders, too, and we should be faithful to read and meditate on them so we can remember His love, remember His promises, and remember His faithfulness.
The downward spiral of sin
Chapter 28—it’s hard to read some of this, “…your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you … You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters … he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat …The tender and delicate woman … will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta … she will eat them secretly …”
This talks about the utter depravity of man when given over to his own devices. Just as light does not cause darkness, God does not cause depravity. Darkness is the absence of light and depravity is the absence of God’s restraining grace.
God gave them up … God gave them up … God gave them over!
When people, whether nations or individuals, repeatedly reject God, reject His rule in their lives, harden their hearts, and lose all fear of God, God steps back and gives us over to do whatever we desire and whatever seems right to us. It leads into a downward spiral of sin (). Continued rejection of God leads to His continued removal of grace.
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Romans 1.24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (emphasis added)
Passages like this should scare the daylights out of us! God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. We are deceived if we think we can manage sin or if we think we can reject God and His Son and turn to Him when we are good and ready. As the book of Hebrews says repeatedly:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (vv. 3.7, 15, 4.7).
Remember, this is a picture of the depravity and character of man apart from God, not of the character of God.
Calling on God’s mercy
The psalmist understood that He had no right to be in the presence of God on his own merit, but he cried out for the mercy of God. He was much like the tax collector in Luke 18.9-14:
9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We are all legalists at heart and when we believe we are somehow “keeping the law,” at least better than others, that religious legalism allows us to trust in our own self-righteousness. Unfortunately, self-righteousness doesn’t exist anywhere but in our own deceived hearts.
Our giving and God’s return
Verse 7, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.”
This brings to mind a verse in our New Testament reading:
Luke 6.38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
When we are generous with our time and our resources, God gives back in abundance and in blessings that cannot be measured or even totally understood in this life.
The “golden rule”
Verse 31, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”
Growing up, most of us heard this taught as the “golden rule.” But we need to remember that the “golden rule” gets the “golden result”—that is we will generally get back what we give, not necessarily from the same person or in the same situation, but God will see to it that we are blessed when we do what is right from a pure heart.
What do you think?
Have a blessed day in the Lord,
This week’s featured book:
Have Christians become so preoccupied with “major” sins that we have lost sight of our need to deal with more subtle sins? Navigator author Jerry Bridges addresses the “acceptable” sins that we tend to tolerate in ourselves, including pride and anger. He goes to the heart of the matter, exploring our feelings of shame and grief and opening a new door to God’s forgiveness and grace.
Romans 1-7 For You
Join Dr Timothy Keller as he opens up the first half of the book of Romans, helping you to get to grips with its meaning and showing how it transforms our hearts and lives today.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.