Guarding Purity: Deuteronomy 13, 14 (7)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 51.10-13
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Create in me a clean heart, renew me from within!
Take not Your Spirit from me because of all my sin.
Salvation’s joy restore, Lord, and keep me in Your hand;
thus shall I tell Your strong Word to sinners in the land.
Review Deuteronomy 13 and 14; meditate on Deuteronomy 14.2
1. Why did God choose Israel?
2. How did He intend for them to relate to the other peoples of the earth?
Jesus prayed that His followers might be “sanctified” by the truth of God’s Word (Jn. 17.17). Moses instructed Israel in essentially the same manner. To be sanctified means to be set apart as holy unto the Lord, to be recognizably different from all other people by virtue of the Presence of God. Israel was to be so submitted to and saturated with the Law of God and all His Word, that they would stand out in wisdom and holiness above all the surrounding nations.
Whatever threatened that sanctified condition had to be dealt with immediately and thoroughly. Whatever encouraged it must be adopted and followed assiduously.
Thus, false prophets and those who would entice Israel to follow other gods must not be tolerated in the holy nation. Even if whole cities rebelled against the Lord, the people must move to extirpate them from the nation.
On the other hand, certain dietary measures and practices of giving would conduce to making the people of Israel distinct, both by what they did not do (eat certain meats) and by what they did (care for the least among them, including foreigners). By abstaining from certain kinds of meat, the people of Israel would continuously remind themselves that they were not like the pagan nations around them. By tithing and giving offerings to the Lord, they showed their constant love for Him and their neighbors.
The purity of Israel as a holy nation unto the Lord – His special treasure – depended on such measures as these. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are also called to be holy (cf. Matt. 5.48, quoting Lev. 11.44, 19.2). The quest for holiness must be grounded in God’s Word, as Jesus taught, beginning with His holy and righteous and good Law (Matt. 5.17-19; Rom. 7.12).
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Yes. We are called to be holy. But not to be holy for Aunt Fran or Grandma Mary. Not even for Uncle Bob, or the elders of our church, or to impress the pastor, or make our neighbors ooh and aah over our holiness. No. We are called to be holy to the LORD our God! We are His chosen, special treasure, and our holiness is for Him: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Is. 43.1). “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love…” (Eph. 1.4). This holiness unto Him should be the main feature of our life, right up to the end of our life. We read that the angel said to John in Revelation 22.11, “…he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Because Jesus then says, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22.12). We are called to be holy to the LORD by keeping His Law: “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7.12). “Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward” (Ps. 19.11). To Him. For Him. Because of Him. Called to be holy.
1. How would you explain to a new believer what it means to be holy?
2. Why is the Law of God an important component for us in growing in holiness?
3. Why do you suppose holiness has fallen so low on the agenda of many Christians?
But let us ask our own hearts, Are we of the children of the Lord our God? Are we separate from the ungodly world, in being set apart to God’s glory, the purchase of Christ’s blood? Are we subjects of the work of the Holy Ghost? Matthew Henry (1622-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 14.1-21
You have called me to seek Your Kingdom and righteousness, Lord. Help me do so today as I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 51.1-9
We can’t be holy if sin lingers in our soul. Wait on the Lord in prayer to search your soul and lead you to confession and repentance as needed. Thank the Lord for His provision for our holiness in Jesus and His Word.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be gracious to me, Savior, according to Your love!
According to Your mercy, my sins, my sins remove!
O wash me, precious Savior, and cleanse me from all sin;
look on me with Your favor, and cause my grief to end.
Against You only, Savior, have I become unclean;
thus just the condemnation which You pronounce on me.
Lord, I was born to sinning, while You seek truth within;
to wisdom my heart winning, release me from my sin!
In Jesus’ blood and mercy, Lord, cleanse my evil heart!
Let me washed, cleansed, renewed be and pure in whole and part.
Bring joy again and gladness; look not upon my sin.
Deliver me from sadness; renew me yet again!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).