“Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’…” Deut. 9:4a
Many of us Christians have been on the receiving end of multiple remonstrations for attributing “our successes” to the Grace Of God. The world in which we live desires that we take the glory for the achievements, but we know better.
Inherent in each of us is pride, which if unchecked threatens to overthrow the Lordship of God in our lives. In moments of victory, this pride entirely forgets God, and attributes the success and prosperity to its own power, wisdom and application!
Israel, on the brink of crossing into the Promised Land to face the occupying giants is warned by Moses not to fall to this enemy from within and that forms the basis for our study this week taken from Deut. 9.
DO NOT THINK IN YOUR HEART
Israel’s temptation to pride was not going to come from something they would actually say. Long before we say proud words we think proud thoughts in our hearts!
There is an even subtler form of pride which acknowledges the blessings of God; but instead of receiving them gratefully, as unmerited gifts of the Grace of God, sees in them nothing but proofs of its own righteousness and virtue! Moses therefore, cautioned the people of God that they should not conclude that “their righteousness” was what merited God’s blessing (Deut. 9:1-6). It was not because of their righteousness that God was giving them the Promised Land.
It is every individual’s desire to earn their own righteousness and justification before God! This is insufficient! We only need to look to and receive Jesus’ righteousness and that is adequate!
A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE RECEIVE GRACE
The idea of being “stiff necked” is best captured by an ox that stiffens its neck against a yoke put around it. The result is that it becomes difficult to make it stay the course. In the same way, “Israel stiffened its neck against the yoke God put upon it”. They refused submit to God’s direction in their lives.
Moses reminded the people of the times they had rebelled against God (Deut. 9:7-24) so that they would recognize their own weaknesses and put their trust in God. It was not that Israel’s righteousness was better than that of the Canaanites! They were not perfect and yet they became the instrument of God’s judgement (Deut.9:5)!
No reason is given for why God set His love on Israel! He just chose them. Also, because He is a Faithful God, Israel benefitted from His keeping His promises to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deut.9:5).
This is a preview of the salvation by grace through faith that we receive in Jesus Christ (2Tim. 1:9)! God did not save us because He saw something good in us [there is nothing good about any of us] (Rom. 3:10-23; Eph.2:1). God saved you and me because Jesus Christ died for us on the cross!
Salvation is a DIVINE MYSTERY! This means that the debate on the doctrinal issues of “predestination” and “election” will continue to rage due to our failure to completely God’s Grace in our salvation! What is important to remember is that if you have accepted Jesus Christ to become your Lord and Saviour, God has chosen you too (Eph. 1:4).
One author put it this way, ‘if you look at the outside of the door of salvation it says, “Whosoever will, let him come (Rev. 22:17).” When you step through the door and look back, it says “Chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4-5).” ’
The bottom line is that Jesus Christ died to save sinners from their sins, and everyone who comes to Him, will be saved by Him (John 6:37). That is the message of salvation we preach to all “as we expand the place of our tents” (Isa. 45:2)
Self-righteousness became a besetting sin of the Israelites and it does the same to us today. The only way we can avoid it is to remember our own sinfulness. God has chosen Christians, not because of our righteousness, but in spite of our sinfulness. That is the Grace Of God we have received. GOD BLESS YOU as you continue to share this GOOD NEWS to the world!