Saturday, February 24, 2007

Righteousness is right: Dt 4:1

“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1)

At their first attempt at crossing the Jordan, ten of the spies sent out to spy out the land returned this report to Moses and the nation of Israel. “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.” (Numbers 13:32) When I first read this passage of scripture I was indignant that the ten spies could characterize the “good land” of the Lord as one that “devours its inhabitants”, but the more I considered this the more I realized that the ten spies were right. The Promised Land of God is both a good land and a land that devours its inhabitants; it devours them when they refuse to live by its rules and laws.

The Kingdom of God is designed to operate under certain laws and principals by which, if we choose to live by them, then we will be blessed and live a long and prosperous life in His kingdom. If, however, we choose a life of sin and rebellion against God’s laws, we will be consumed by the very same Kingdom we are tying to live within. This principal is repeated over and over in the Book of Deuteronomy.

“When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord your God so as to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:25-26, 40)

God has called us to righteousness, not because He doesn’t want us to have “fun”, but because righteousness is right. Righteousness is how we were created to live, it is the laws and principals of His Kingdom, and when we live righteously we are blessed. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” (Romans 6:16, 19, 21) When we try to live in God’s kingdom by our own way, living according to the flesh, it is like trying to drive a nail with a glass vase. A nail is meant to be driven by a hammer, using anything else is a recipe for disaster. If we try to use a glass vase the vase will be broken and our efforts for not. The same is true if we try to live in the Kingdom of God according to our own way and not according to righteousness, our lives will be ruined and our efforts wasted. “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 2:7-10)

We cannot escape this one irrefutable fact: if we want to live in the Kingdom of God then we must live according to the Kingdom of God. We cannot live in the Kingdom of God according to our own ways or as we would chose, we must live the life that we have been called to by God. We must remember the words of Paul as he exhorted the church at Ephesus, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesus 4:1-3)

David Robison

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