Deut 30:11 to 20
Deut 30:17 But if your heart turns away and you will not hear but are drawn away to worship other gods and to serve them.
18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.
In Deut 30, the Jews were at last entering the promised land after 40 years in the desert because they had been very naughty to worship pagan gods in the midst of the camp and God had to do the cleansing of the previous generation whom within 40 years had died.
Moses was very worried that the Jews would choose death by worshiping the pagan gods in Canaan, hence his final sermon to them emphasised for them to stay holy and committed to the God of Israel. It was not a story about general sin, injustice or equality or loving the Cannanites when they reached the land. It was keep yourself clean and look straight and not left nor right to worship and serve the God of Israel.
The trigger for the Ten Commandments wasn’t because the Jews failed to love. It was because they loved and served the wrong god, Satan himself in the form of idol worship of demonic deities.
The problem with fundamentalist Christians is that they over focused on the fear of the judgement of God whereas the liberals have reconstructed Christianity with no judgement and had redefined sin and even scrubed away all the demonic deities. The message of Deut is not to theologize away the issue of sin in worshiping Satan and judgement of the law for this abomination but to understand the depths of God’s grace, love and mercy in Jesus Christ. As Moses called the Jews to sanitize themselves, know that as Christians we are made clean and forgiven in the sacrifice and the blood of the lamb.
It is right believing in the eternal Rock that never changes that leads to right living and not necessarily having a mindset which is open to changes to indulge oneself in unbelieve against the saving grace of Jesus Christ or having a learning spirit to believe in heretic falsehoods which are not new but ancient abominations. For just as the corona viruses will exist despite our denial, so does the demonic principalities that Moses warned the Jews against. The Christian Right has forgotten that it was a personal call to keep holy and righteous before God and not to scapegoat gays as the greatest sinners because we dare not go against the straight idol worshipers.
The context of choosing life is to obey God’s commandments in particular not to worship other gods/spiritual principalities as the Jews entered Canaan, the promised land. They were under law not grace. Many quote the greatest commandments but not the result of failure which is eternal death. Without Jesus, without grace, we are under the judgement of death like the Jews
How do we choose life, and blessings? The choice for the Jews was clear, stay away from other Gods because under the Mosaic Covenant judgement of death will surely come for they were no longer under the Abrahamic covenant. The law applies to everyone. If today, one worships other gods and not Jesus Christ, then eternal judgement and death will follow into eternity. The fire of judgement never ends. The call that God is love would not be heard because God’s love, mercy and grace was already given in Jesus Christ, the incarnate, whom many have rejected as the way, the truth and the life to God, even mainline Christians. Those who reject Christ as the Messiah are no less crucifying Him.
Moses was not talking about a mindset but their heart. The world that they were entering into was not the sanitised spiritual environment in the desert where they had the presence of God and the covering of the cloud day and night.
If their heart was loving God, they would have the mindset to choose right, to choose life and blessings, in choosing to worship and serve the God of Israel rather than to worship Satan.
Sin is belittled by many as that which separate us from God. It is much more for it comes against the holiness and perfect righteousness of God. For the Bible says all have fallen short of the glory of God in the context of a world which worship the various demonic gods and served their purpose and will. There is a high standard of God’s holiness as opposed to the abomination and darkness of the demonic realm which many mainline Christians even deny their existence in order to redefine sin and salvation.
History and the rest of the Bible tells us that they failed as they quickly worshiped the pagan idols. What happened? It is not about perspective per say, because it was tough to enter into the presence of God. Only the High priest enters. Few like King David saw the love and the heart of God as he meditates on the Scripture and worshipped God day and night. But even he failed once he became king and not a shepherd boy.
The law did not help them even the daily reading and proclamation of loving God and others. When Jesus came, He was looking at the heart of those who sought Him. Therefore when the religious pharisees came, He actually quoted them back the law not that Jesus was promoting it but because they did not see their own sins. If they had realised that God was standing in front of them, they had failed the first and greatest commandment.
Liberals often quote about love but fails the first test of loving the God of Israel by adultery with other gods. So is the religious right who are so busy to condemn gays for sin lest God’s judgement fall upon the land yet conveniently forgotten 10,000 unborn babies are killed every year in abortion in Singapore or the many High places of straight pagan worship. Would using gays as sacrificial scapegoats be pleasing to God?
Unless one is in Christ, the law hasn’t passed away. There is no choosing life or death if we are not in Christ. We are already under eternal judgement. We may have life and blessings on earth, but this is only a very short period in eternity. Without Christ, there is no grace to forgive us of judgement by the law.
Israel ended up in the diaspora to Babylon and later dispersed to the Roman empire not because of small gods! (eg bad habits etc) but physical idols and statues because it was a betrayal, a spiritual demonic deity behind the spirit they were worshipping and serving. A spiritual adultery against God who bought them out of Egypt and not just anything that separates us from God which we may indulge in.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Unlike Paul, the Jews entering Canaan had a distinct disadvantage in that God was with them through the temple sacrifices but not in them, in their hearts and abode. They knew God from a distant whereas in Christ, God is in us through the Holy Spirit of God.
Our mindset cannot change without sacrificing ourselves ie humbling ourselves to enter into Christ death and resurrection. Paul’s use of the word, a living sacrifice would cause a laughter as the people of Rome do all sorts of things to sacrifice to their gods eg the temple priest being castrated to sacrifice to Cybele.
Not comforming to the world here is not about growth and a new mindset to see changing world perspectives, for by the time of Paul, the same spiritual principalities of Canaan was present in Rome. The worship of Baal/Ashteroth was transformed into the worship Cybele and when Paul talks about the world, it was in the spiritual demonic principalities framework. Do we change out mindsets to serve the new God in the block? Surely not. The real motive behind the assertion of being open to new perspectives is often being driven to a far left theology as the only path. Inclusivity is really only a facade in Mainline churches.
We can only be transformed in our minds when we first offer our lives to Jesus Christ as a holy sacrifice of our will and purpose. When the Jews entered Canaan, they did so based on the law, ie if they failed, they would be judged by the law. But in the NT, when we sacrificed ourselves by believing that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour ie we cannot save ourselves, then Jesus’ sacrifice and death for us results in resurrection life.
As Paul was walking through Rome, it was so steeped with pagan worship. It was not death and life as faced by Jews as they enter Cannan, because in Rome they had already conformed to the powers of the world and so to receive the blessings, one need to comform. Choosing life on earth may have meant choosing a pagan god. But Paul exalt the new gentile Christians that they are Christians now, and they are the living sacrifice, and we need not follow the rest of the community to worship the pagan gods. We look to eternity not only life and death on earth.
Paul was asking us not to look for the blessings of the world, but the blessings of eternity and eternal life with Jesus. The world worship the deities to receive blessings from the spiritual principalities of this world. But as we are transformed in our minds by the Holy Spirit for we are crucified in Christ, we see eternity and eternal blessing of life. That is the ultimate resurrection from death to life.
We choose life when we realised that we are already dead. Learning and having new perspective is a lie from Satan at the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve was tempted to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They didn’t gain knowledge but the inward awareness of their own darkness.
Rom 12.14 Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Rom 12:21 do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
How do we choose life and blessings instead of death and destruction?
1) Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour to come under sacrificial grace. If we are indeed truly Christians under covenant, we are already dead in Christ. We are no longer under the law, under condemnation.
2) Renew our minds by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and not by human learning wisdom. If not how can we bless those who persecute or set our minds on lowly things and be associated with the humble.
The greatest problem in the world today is not inequality, injustice, or lack of wisdom to understand different perspectives, but lack of a sacrificial heart. We love ourselves too much. We are self centered and not grace centered and are wise in our own opinion. Many have conformed to the powers and principalities of the world because there is darkness in their hearts. The resultant hate, darkness, injustice and inequality in this world because we had bowed down to the Prince of darkness, his powers and serving him through the systems of the world. We love only ourselves and our family but not the other.
Both the Christian Right and left greatly fears the demonic principalities and the judgement of God. They just don’t say it aloud. The SG gatekeepers used gays as the scapegoat and the left totally deny Satan. They have constructed another kind of pseudo Christianity.
As Christians we are called to be salt and light and not be part of the demonic oppressive system but to reflect the light of Christ and the grace of God. It is not knowledge or learning we need but a good heart that loves Jesus Christ above our own. For we are a living sacrifice, dead to ourselves. Only then can we love others and move by the Holy Spirit to reflect God’s love, mercy, grace and power.