Monday, August 29, 2016

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Choosing the Lord is Choosing His Life and Law

KEY TEXT: Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." 

KEY THOT: To choose the Lord is to choose life: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life.” But choosing the Lord has to be more than just "accepting" Him. It implies a commitment to love, obey, hold fast to him. To have God's life means possessing His moral character ("good”), receiving his spiritual/material benefits (“blessing”) and being sustained by his eternal life (“lengths of day”). However, we cannot choose life and ignore his law. To choose life implies “walking in his ways” as described by “his commandments and his statutes and his rules” (v.16). In other words, to choose life, we have to first choose the Lord. But to choose the Lord implies that we choose to walk according to His law. Only then will we receive the promise of character transformation (goodness), divine favour (blessing) and a long life (length of days). 

Moses laid before Israel the two choices they have to make under the old covenant. Paul laid before the Church similar choices under the new covenant: if we want life, we must choose the Lord Jesus Christ and His Law as embedded in the Holy Spirit. What is the law of God but an outward expression of his inward moral character? We cannot reject the Law without also rejecting the Lord who is the embodiment of the holy attributes expressed in the Law. The only difference for NT believers is that the Law is no longer some external rules and regulations, but the Spirit of God indwelling every believer: "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules" (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

So Paul does not disagree with Moses: there is a choice to make even as NT believers. If they want life, they must reject the sinful desires of the flesh because the flesh does not submit to God’s law: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8). For NT believers, the choice is now between walking by the sinful desires of the flesh or walking by holy desires of God’s Spirit: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). The choice is no longer about about outward rules and regulations but about inward desires of the flesh and the Spirit. 

So, we have two choices everyday: to choose life or death. To choose life means we walk by the Spirit, aligning our desires with the Spirit's desires. The Spirit's desires are consistent with God’s law, for God cannot contradict himself. If we reject the Spirit (and so the law of God), we are rejecting the Lord and therefore have chosen death, not life. With death comes moral corruption, curse and sicknesses. For when we choose to obey the flesh, we are no longer operating by God's grace and have reverted back to works of the flesh.

Even though we have the Spirit of God within us as believers, we still have a choice to make everyday--whether to work with God or work against God. So God's salvation given to us needs to be worked out daily, so that we can enjoy its full benefits in this life—righteousness, blessing and long life. 

Father God, thank You that You have given us the Spirit when we chose Christ. Help us choose life daily by walking by Your Spirit so that we may submit ourselves to the law of God. Amen.

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