DEUTERONOMY 13:6-9: “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Has anyone ever tried to challenge your faith? Have you been tempted by others to go down a path you know is wrong? Are there people in your life that are continually negative, challenging the things you believe?
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH NEGATIVE INFLUENCES?
These verses from Deuteronomy seem extremely harsh when we read them from a New Testament perspective. Surely, we are not called to take the life of people who are negative influences in our life. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and has given us the same calling. We cannot be like James and John who suggested that Jesus call fire down from heaven to destroy those who would not receive Jesus’ teachings.
HOW DO WE RECONCILE THESE VERSES IN LIGHT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT?
The call to capital punishment for the offense of leading someone to become an apostate by following other gods was given to the nation of Israel to protect its purity and devotion to the Lord. The Old Testament saints did not have the gift of the indwelling Spirit in their lives. If left to themselves they always strayed away from the Lord and right into the path of destruction. These drastic measures were to keep them under the blessings and care of the Lord.
So is there any application for us today? Are these just relegated to instructions that are now irrelevant to those who are under the New Covenant? Or, are there some important truths that we can still glean today? Let’s look at these verses again and break them out into practical applications.
- “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him…”
The reality is that when we choose to follow Jesus there will always be those who will line up to dissuade us from this call. They will be members of our own family or even our closest friends. We may be called “holier than thou,” “Jesus freaks,” or branded as closed-minded and ignorant. Peter gives us some insight into this in his epistle.
- “In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.” I Peter 4:4 NKJV
When I committed my life to Christ I was faced with this dilemma. Suddenly, my family was questioning my newfound faith. My friends were making fun of me for being a “church boy.” They could not understand why I had changed and they continued to entice me to join them in my former lifestyle. My response was to witness to them and share Jesus with them. As I did this I was faced with a decision when most of them just laughed and rejected what I was saying.
I COULD HOLD ONTO THE FRIENDSHIPS THAT WOULD LEAD ME AWAY FROM THE LORD OR I COULD WALK AWAY FROM THEM!
I had to make a tough decision. I had to walk away from these friendships. Please understand this in the way it is intended. I had to put these old ties to death. It was not a physical death. It was a spiritual and emotional one. I was always there for them if they wanted to know about Jesus or needed help. However, I could no longer have fellowship with them in works of darkness.
Today we are bombarded with media that tries to convince us that good is evil and evil is good. They do this by pulling the heartstrings of our emotions through dramatic scenes and twisted plots. Even as believers if we buy into this we are tempted to begin to lower our guard and start to feel sorry for those who would lead us away from the Lord. The instructions from Deuteronomy speak clearly once again!
- “…nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him…”
We cannot change God’s Word to accommodate our family, neighbor, or our friend. We cannot simply pretend that they are not headed toward the cliff because we don’t want to offend them. And, we cannot deceive ourselves that we are strong enough to hang around these people and not be affected in our walk of faith.
We become who we associate with. If we walk with Jesus we become like Jesus. If we walk with people of faith our faith is strengthened and encouraged. However, if we walk with people who serve other gods (themselves, the world, money, success, sensuality, etc.), we will slowly lower our standards and become like them. Faith produces faith. Negativity produces negativity. Life produces life. And death produces death.
WE MUST BE WILLING TO WALK AWAY FROM RELATIONSHIPS THAT LEAD US AWAY FROM THE LORD!
Lord, I pray that you will give me a discerning heart to choose my friends carefully. I pray that I would be moved by love to share Jesus Christ with every person that I know and meet. However, help me choose the people that I invest my life in carefully. Give me the grace to walk always from relationships that are detrimental to my faith and lead me to those who will challenge me and help me to grow in Christ.
In Jesus Name!