Wednesday, March 26, 2008

You can't be quiet

I am working on a commentary of Deuteronomy 13 for a lectureship in the fall. Manuscripts are due next week. I could not help, however, to point out God's view of tolerating sin.

Dt. 13:6-11
“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, 7of 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, 8you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; 9but 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. 10And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.

Sin often creeps into networks of family and friends. The temptation was for one loved one to woo another into idolatry and apostasy. This is often done in secret. How often a false teacher has moved into a city, made many friends, and secretly introduces false notions among the congregation.

They were not to yield to the idolater, or listen to him. They were not to pity him in such a way as to spare his destruction or to conceal him from others. They were not to lie to themselves or tolerate this abominable evil (Dt. 12:29-31). They were to expose this loved one and stone him. The close friend or relative who accused him was to be first to stone. God did not permit any tolerance.

Since the temptation came through a loved one, the tempted person would naturally feel compassion and be inclined to cover up the sin of his loved one. To yield to the temptation would certainly be sinful, but just as sinful was to conceal the sin or ignore the sin out of compassion. The tempter put his closest relatives in an awful predicament, making the relative have to choose between allegiance God and natural love for the offender. Here God steps in and insists that the tempted not be silent about the tempter; God would not tolerate the covering up of sin.

It is easy at times to give our friends or relatives a pass on sin. When we do so, we are not doing any favors to the relative or to the Lord. A little leaven still leavens the whole lump of dough. Sin left to grow surely will infect many. You see, it is no good to take this compromise stand that we will only speak what we believe but will not speak out against what we believe is wrong. Paul rebuked Corinth for failing to discipline the sinful man in 1 Corinthians 5. The Lord Jesus rebuked Thyatira for tolerating Jezebel. On some things, there is no place for neutrality. Loyalty to God demands we speak out.

Love for God calls us to speak out.


Donnie Bates said...

Great post, Phil. I really like how Deut. 13 begins by pointing out that if a prophet or a dreamer tempts you to follow after other gods and he works a sign and the sign comes true, you still are not allowed to follow him; in other words, the sign coming true is not proof of God's blessings and approval. Too many in the church today believe that more smiling faces in an entertainment-style worship service, or greater numbers in attendance are proof of God's blessings so the change agents must be right.

Keep up the good work.

Donnie Bates

Rick said...

Your point is well taken and should be headed. I am teaching a 22 week series on Getting Acquainted with the Pentateuch. One passage that has caught my eye in light of your discussion here is Leviticus 5:1. I believe it is the key to understanding John 8 and the women caught in the very act of adultery. All the witnesses to the adultery were to be held responsible for the man that they let go and were to receive his punishment. Thus, "he who is without sin, cast the first stone."