Choose This Day
In our Old Testament reading today we find Moses preparing the children of Israel to enter the promised land:
Moses said, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. (Deuteronomy 30:16-18)
Life is about choices. This was true for Israel and it is true for us today. Blessings from God have to do with our obedience to God. The psalmist wrote:
Happy are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Happy are they who observe his decrees
and seek him with all their hearts! (Psalm 119:1-2)
Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;
happy are the people whose God is the Lord. (Psalm 144:15)
There is the other side of the coin. Moses said:
If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. (Deuteronomy 30:16-18)
Obedience to God is vital. Why did you not Isreal obey God? Why do we not obey God? Adam and Eve sewed the seeds of rebellion. They believed what the enemy of God’s creation lied about – that created beings can be on the same playing field as God. Unfortunately, many people still believe that, despite the evidence to the contrary.
Our flesh, carnal nature, and prideful mind still want to test the premise that we can think like God. Within our souls, a spiritual battle is taking place. The Apostle Paul wrote:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. For I know that the good does not dwell within me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do the good lies close at hand, but not the ability. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7:14-19)
History has proven that the flesh cannot win the battle for righteous living. The law of God taught us what is sinful. Paul wrote that the direction was spiritual. It was from God, but it was powerless to free us from sin.
If we love God then we do not want to sin, but we still do despite our efforts. What is the problem? What is the solution?
Let us look at the Sermon on the Mount in today’s Gospel.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-2)
Jesus is talking about the law. He is making it clear that there is no way for us to get around the law. We cannot water it down, so to speak. We cannot so narrowly define it so that we can say that we have followed it without fail. What else is left? Maybe we can eliminate the law in some way?
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
We cannot abolish the law because Jesus did not abolish the law. It is still on the books. The penalty for not keeping the law is still the same, to this day. The Apostle Paul explains:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law. (Galatians 3:10)
Something must be done to remove the curse. Only God could do that. He did so through his Son. Jesus came, not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Paul explains:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Jesus took our punishment so we could partake of his righteousness. We do that by faith in what he has done for us. That is the beginning. Now we have a choice. Life is about choices. How do we walk? According to the flesh or according to the Spirit?
Will we wander around in the wilderness of Christendom or will we go in and possess the land that Jesus has purchased for us? Will we leave the fleshpots of Egypt behind us and trust the leadership of the Spirit? The Apostle Paul explains:
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Now is the time for us to choose whom we will serve and worship. In fact, each day we must choose. Life is about choices. Blessings and curses. Life and death. Let us choose life. Let us worship the Lord.