Sunday, March 16, 2008

Severing the ties: Dt 12:2-4

"You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 12:2-4)
We are not to make peace with the enemies of our souls. There can be no detente with sin, sin must be defeated, and sin must be eradicated from our lives. We must never be casual towards the ungodly and sinful ways that still remain in our lives. We must be radical, we must be severe, and we must be determined to purify our lives by the grace of God. Here are some practical examples from the scriptures of how we can apply this passage to our lives today.
"Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver." (Acts 19:18-19)
Make a break with your past. This could include previous habits, patterns, relationships, or beliefs. It is clear that we cannot live in the Kingdom of God according to the ways which we learned while living in the world. Sometimes our past can limit our future. We must be willing to make a clean break with our past and to fully embrace the new life we have in Christ.
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell." (Matthew 18:8-9)
Remove the stumbling stones. Each of us have areas of weakness, areas where we susceptible to stumbling. The key to avoiding sin is to identify those areas and to take action to remove the stones over which we too often stumble. For example, if you struggle with lust, then you may want to cancel your subscription to the swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated. If you struggle with drinking, then you may have to stop partying and hanging around with your old drinking buddies. If you and your girlfriend continually fall into "sin" then you may have to break off your relationship with her. The truth is, it is better to deprive ourselves of certain "pleasures" or "activities" than to continue to live a life of sin.
"for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:13)
It is not enough to be saved, but Jesus has saved us for sanctification. As we grow in Christ, we should grow to become more like Christ and less like our old selfs. We are saved "just as I am" but we are not to remain "just as I am". God wants us to grow in righteousness and godliness, and this means putting to death our old ways; being willing to look at our lives and change our behaviors, to set aside old ways and to adopt new ways, godly ways.

When we were saved, we were born again, literally, we had a new beginning, a new genesis. This new life requires new ways of living. If we are to be fruitful in our new lives then we must be willing to lay aside and put to death our old life. We must be radical in our commitment to change, sanctification, and growing in Christlikeness, for it is for this that we were called.

David Robison

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