Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In Christ

You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; 
and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, 
serve Him, and cling to Him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

I love a good "In Christ" series, but this is not going to be the typical one.  The typical one looks at who we are in Christ - adopted, beloved, justified, redeemed, enlightened, saved, righteous, holy, chosen, etc.  Instead of looking at what Jesus has done for us in changing our identity, I want to study what is on our side of the table - what is our responsibility.  Now before any of you cry, "Heresy!", I want to assure you that our ability to be in Christ is solely through His actions, however we do have a response to His gift of salvation.  His redemptive work gives us the ability to respond and transform, but we don't simply wake up one morning, look in the mirror and realize we have become perfect.  Nope, we have some work to do and technically, perfection isn't a "this life" reality anyways...

So, what has been your experience? I know many who have been drawn to the church, moved by the worship and teaching, came forward with a prayer of decision and possibly even a baptism, and then went home and said, "Now what?" It's that question that I want to address. Now that I am in Christ, what do I do?

I have been studying the book of Exodus for our women's group this fall and that study has taken me into the Law.  Oh. My. Goodness!  The Law is WONDERFUL!  Yes, I said wonderful.  As I have studied the Law, I have seen the heart of God for broken man more clearly than ever before.  He understands how sin has infected the mind of man, which has diminished his ability to reason and live sensibly and lovingly, so God has patiently laid out instructions that not only bring Him glory, but also provide stability and justice for His people.  

By the time you get to Deuteronomy 13, God is addressing false prophets, who were alive and well 4,000 years ago, just as they still are today.  These people did not just promote chasing after false gods, but their messages were backed up with signs and wonders.  Now, if a miracle accompanies a message, it has to be from God, right?  But what if that message contradicts the Law?  Then the message must be rejected and the prophet must be put to death!  

It is interesting.  Not just the prophet is to be killed, but even the person who chases after his false god and wants others to do so, as well.  Listen to what the Lord says in verses 6-9:

If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you or your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.  BUT YOU SHALL SURELY KILL HIM; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death and afterwards the hand of all the people." (emphasis mine)

Now, don't start planning the murder of the people in your life who worship false gods because we don't have a government that will allow that, but can you see the heart of God in this?  False prophets and even people interested in worshipping false gods are a threat to the purity of God's people.  God knows how easily our hearts are drawn away from Him and He wanted Israel on the alert, to keep their hearts completely set on Him and Him alone.  

It is in the midst of these verses that we get the answer to our question, "Now what?"  God clearly lays out our instructions for life, not just for Israel, but for believers who are IN CHRIST.  He says:

You shall FOLLOW the Lord your God and FEAR Him;  and you shall KEEP His commandments, LISTEN to His voice, SERVE Him and CLING to Him.  (Debt. 13:4, emphasis mine)

The child of God has clear instructions on how he is to live his life: follow, fear, keep, listen, serve and cling.  In doing these things the transformation process will enfold. Upon salvation, we are immediately transformed from dead to alive, but the sanctification or growth process happens as we follow, fear, keep, listen, serve and cling.  In one verse, we have the answer to "Now what?"

Over the next few blogs, I want to look at each one of these actions.  My hope is that as we work our way through this one verse, we will have greater understanding of the meaning of our lives and the purpose for which we were created, and that we will be inspired to roll up our sleeves and life the God-centered life He wants us to live.

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