Hearing and Following

Hearing and Following – Deuteronomy 4:1-14

Today, people recite and vehemently defend the Scriptures, but often do not practice what they preach. Some Christians, for example, may be comfortable with telling ″white lies″ despite knowing what Scripture says about lying. This is clear disobedience, and we will suffer when we disobey God’s Word like the Israelites did in Baal Peor (Deuteronomy 4:3).

Today’s passage describes the characteristics of Christians who live by God’s Word. First, they not only ″hear″ but also ″follow″ the Word (vv. 1, 5). The Hebrew word shamar, ″to pay careful attention to″, describes this posture of the faithful ones-those who are careful to obey the Word (vv. 2, 6).

Second, Christians do not ″add to″ or ″subtract from″ the Word (v. 2). Perhaps, some of us may wonder: Didn’t God use others to complete the whole Bible, revealing His complete will after Moses’ writings? Aren’t they adding to the Word? Well, what this verse prohibits is introducing things that contradict God’s Word, such as adding ideas that legitimise bribery, or subtracting from the full gospel by rejecting difficult teachings like the uniqueness of Christ.

Third, Christians have a missionary impact. Outsiders would be in awe if they realised that our God answers prayers and remains near to us (v. 7). They would also be intrigued by our righteous lifestyle (v. 8). Many acknowledge the need for values such as honesty and justice, but admit to the difficulty of practicing them. They will take notice if they see that Christians are truly people who live uprightly.

Fourth, Christians guard their hearts seriously. The word shamar appears twice in this instruction: ″Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely″ (v. 9). It can more literally be rendered as ″be careful about being careful about your soul″. Many great Christians have stated that the biggest challenge they face in life is themselves. Their unfaithfulness was the only thing that could obstruct God’s blessings in their lives. We must therefore be careful to ″watch [our] life and doctrine closely″ (1 Timothy 4:16). Carelessness leads to big sins.

Fifth, Christians ″teach″ the Scriptures to their ″children″ and grandchildren (Deuteronomy 4:9). The home was the primary place of biblical instruction in ancient Israel. While Sunday schools are a great resource, nothing matches the influence of parents teaching their children.

Sixth, just as the Israelites were aware of the divine, supernatural origin of God’s commands (vv. 10-14)-given to the people out of the fire (vv. 11-12, 15)-Bible-believing Christians know that ″all Scripture is God-breathed″ (2 Timothy 3:16). They are not tempted to look for other touchable, visible things for security, like astrologers or shrines of other gods, when they face serious problems. They understand that though God is invisible, there is none more powerful than He. Moses said that though the people of God ″saw no form of any kind″ when He gave them the Law, He ″spoke to [them] at Horeb out of the fire″ (v. 15). Our belief in the greatness of God’s Word should also prevent us from compromising in tough situations.

Think Through:

Which of these six features of a Bible-believing Christian comes to you more naturally? Which of the six do you struggle with the most? Ask for the Lord’s grace to help you grow into the full maturity of Christ.

In what ways could Christian righteousness have an impact on our world?

Taken from Journey Througn Deuteronomy: 60 Biblical Insights by Ajith Fernando.

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