“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving to you today, the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following after other gods, which you have not known” —Deuteronomy 11:26-28, NIV.
I had a conversation with a friend yesterday via SKYPE. He was working on the final submission for the last course he needed to complete for his Masters degree. He had sent me a paper he had written about the course and I was to question him about his conclusions.
One the subjects that arose had to do with God’s commands. Our society today doesn’t like to be “commanded” which might explain why we so easily reduce God’s instructions to “suggestions” or “options” if we consider them at all.
The commandments of God are good things, expressions of love even though we often regard them as the opposite. Our lack of faith that God has our best interests at heart when he gives us his commands is, as my friend and I discussed yesterday, a reflection of our fallen state, our rebellion against God. The commands really are expressions of God’s overwhelming commitment to keeping us from harming ourselves. The keeping of his commands is a reflection of what has become our aim in life because of the grace he showed to us through Jesus Christ. That aim is to bring glory to God. Jesus said in John 14:21, 23: “Whoever had my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
Moses, at God’s command, put the question before Israel. Are you, or aren’t you? What grabs my attention is the promise of blessing in the Old Testament and then the key to that blessing as Jesus expresses it. He and his Father will come and dwell with us.
This expression has a sharp edge. It implies that those who don’t keep his commands don’t have God dwelling in them—whatever else they might claim. On the positive side, those who submit themselves to Christ through faith and obey him because of the love they now share with him, have God within.
Think about that. The God of the universe IN you and me. The choice between obedience or disobedience seems to me to be a “no-brainer.” He lives in me; how can I imagine that anything he requires of me could be a bad thing. Would he hurt the vessel he dwells in? That would make God a kind of masochist. The command is good because he is good. It brings life because he is life. It gifts us with all he is. To choose to obey him is as much a choice for empowerment as it is an act of submission.
And what could be bad about that.