Deuteronomy 30:15-18. 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.
Deuteronomy is Moses’ sermon to the Israelites as they wait to enter the Promised Land. Because of their lack of faith, entering the land has been put on hold for 40 long years. As the next generation prepares to enter, God reminds them that they have a choice. I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.
On the surface God’s words to Israel here can sound empowering and encouraging. Make good choices. You can do it. Use your free will to control your own destiny. But the truth is that Adam and Eve’s sinful choice in the Garden of Eden has led us here. They chose knowing good and evil over the freely given life of God. They chose works over faith. Earning over receiving. Doing over done.
But because of that catastrophic choice, God must now relate to his people through the LAW. Through an If-Then paradigm. If you obey, then you will be blessed. If you disobey, then you will be cursed.
If-Then looks so appealing. It offers satisfaction when we get it right, and motivation to not get it wrong. If-Then gives us control over our own destiny: Need God’s blessing? Then just obey more. Want to avoid God’s cursing? Then stop disobeying. If-Then makes sense. It’s a simple system. It’s fair. It’s perfect.
And it’s impossible.
But this is where our desire to control our own lives has brought us. God is giving us exactly what we said we wanted. Being “like God” but without grace. This is far from empowering and encouraging. It’s terrifying!
Which of us has fully kept the commands of God? Which of us has always loved him with our whole hearts? Which of us has walked in his ways without tripping up? Which of us has never turned our heart away from God? Which of us has never worshiped an idol? Which of us would not surely perish if judged by If-Then?
Jesus Christ came to replace the deadly If-Then system of law with the life giving Because-Therefore system of our union with Christ.
Because Jesus loved God with his whole heart, therefore Christ in me can love God with my whole heart.
Because Jesus obeyed every commandment of God, therefore Christ in me can pursue obedience to God’s commandments without fear of failure.
Because Jesus is blessed, therefore in Christ I am fully blessed.
Because Jesus chose goodness and life, therefore Christ in me can choose goodness and life.
Because Jesus’ heart never turned away from God, therefore, in Christ, my heart will stay faithful to God.
Because Jesus is alive, therefore, in Christ, I will not perish but have everlasting life.
“To live is Christ” has given us a whole new operating system. The If-Then that would have crushed us is now made obsolete by the Because-Therefore of our union with Christ. Because Jesus took our death and evil into himself therefore we can receive his life and goodness into ourselves. That’s good news!
In what ways have you been living by the If-Then rule of law?
You in Christ
How does knowing that every requirement of the law has been met in us free you to simply love and worship God today?
Christ in you
Deuteronomy 30 doesn’t have to be terrifying anymore because Christ has already done it. Go back and read Deuteronomy 30:15-18 and let them bring you life instead of death.