Deuteronomy 12:29–14:29; 2 Corinthians 4:1–6; Psalm 36
Watching television last night, I remarked on the slippery slope of depicted immorality. Years ago, the ethics of TV kept bad language off shows and out of commercials. No more. Years ago, nudity and “adult themes” were relegated to the hours after children were put to bed. No more. Some themes were not allowed at all. No more. Now, just about anything goes.
This made me think of how easily my life can slide away from whole-heartedly following Christ to doing my own thing (which may not seem evil at first), then to being tempted to slide further into questionable stuff . . . and then down the slope. This is why God tells me to quickly deal with sin, just as He told the Israelites to be ruthless against the enemies they encountered in their Promised Land.
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:29–32)
The rest of the reading warns against being sucked into idolatry by signs and wonders. They would be tested so God would “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.”
But woe to anyone who leads them astray. Sin is serious stuff and God will deal with anyone and anything that lured them and lures me from Him. I am to “purge the evil from (my) midst.” (Deuteronomy 13:1–5)
This principle not only applies to individuals, but entire communities. If “worthless fellows” drew the inhabitants of a city to serve other gods, they were to die — as was the entire city. (Deuteronomy 13:12–16) In those OT days, God dealt with sin in judgment. He would do the same today if it were not for mercy and grace shown in the sacrifice of Jesus for sin. How do I know that? One way is that God is not striking with lightning (or asking His people to do it) those people who devise television programming that slides into smut. He has not slain those who air it when children are apt to be watching, at least not yet.
Instead, God offers grace and forgiveness through faith in His Son, and gives His people the mission or ministry of telling others about Jesus. “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:1–6)
While we do have a responsibility to speak against evil, the true battle is a spiritual one. We need to speak out, but also pray for those involved in sin-making and greasing the slope into hell. They may be blinded by the god of this world, but the psalmist also says this about them . . .
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil. (Psalm 36:1–4)
I cannot point my fingers. I know how easy it is to sin. For my own stability, I must ask God: “Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.” (Psalm 36:10–11)