Sunday, March 6, 2011

Losing the Promised Land. . .

I am working on a study of all the verses of the Bible where God said “mine” or “my” referring to those things that are God’s. I had to reject the following verse. The verse contains the phrase “my righteousness”, but it refers to what a man thinks of in his heart about his own righteousness, and not God’s righteousness, Here is the verse:

Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
 Deuteronomy 9:4

What a powerful verse. On first reading it is key to understanding what takes place in the Old Testament. How unfair it seems for God to drive out peoples from their lands and to give the land to the Hebrew people, but It wasn't for the goodness of the Hebrew people that God gave them the land, but for the wickedness of the people who resided there, that God took the land away from them. They practiced all sorts of sexual immorality. They sacrificed their children to their gods. They were wicked in every way. . .Their own wickedness brought on God’s desire and subsequent actions to remove them. The blame for their troubles lay not with God. . .not with the Jewish people, but arose from within their own evil actions. . .

This has been a verse that I have been aware of and thought of often through the past years. It is key to understanding what happens in the beginning of the Old Testament. However upon reflection, over the last evening it dawns on me that this verse is key also to understanding the New Testament. It is a foreshadowing of God’s giving us the promised land. . .only our promised land is not an area set aside for us here on earth, but a Heavenly land of milk and honey.

It is not for our goodness, righteousness, holiness, etc. that we attain heaven, but only through the mercy and grace and shed blood of Jesus to we have any hope of getting there, BUT. . .BUT. . .BUT!!!! Similarly to what God did to the original inhabitants of the promised land, through our acts of unrighteousness we can lose heaven. If we try to get to heaven through our good deeds, then they are counted as paying off debt:

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Romans 4:4

What possible good acts can we do, that could be payment of the bad things we have done when we were in sin? What can you do as atonement for a lie or sexual immorality? What could you do of your own, which would cancel out that debt?

For:

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Anything you might do yourself, that you might consider good, rests upon the blessings and good gifts that God has given you. Give money to the poor? God has provided an excess and has blessed you such that you have money to give to the poor. . .Help an old lady across the street? God gave you good legs, that you might be able to do so. We can do nothing of ourselves that is good, which doesn’t have as its origin God. All credit must be given to God, for all good that is done by us.

On the other hand, Jesus was equally clear:

Matthew 7:22-23
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

These were people who did works in His name, thought they knew Him, thought themselves to be saved and He denies them because they are, "ye that work iniquity."

So, in a nutshell: Our works cannot get us into heaven, but our works can very well get us sent to hell. We are not going to be perfect, but sin must become an exception rather than our nature and must be repented of and then turned away from as it arises within us.

We must always be vigilant and never take our salvation for granted. . .always be thankful. . .always repentant. . .always humble. . .

Thank you my God. . .
Thank you for paying the price. . .
    and giving me a hope. . .

I love you my God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .

Dave

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