March 3

Deuteronomy 28-29, Psalm 62

When I talk to people about reading through the Bible, many are surprised that I spend so much time, and they probably are thinking waste so much time, in the Old Testament. The fundamental flaw with this thinking is people believe that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different from the God of the New Testament. Yet we know that God is immutable or plainly said, "He doesn't change". The reality is the requirements of the law and the requirements of grace have something very much in common, personal accountability. Moses was speaking to a generation who all witnessed their parents dying: some being swallowed in the earth, some bitten by poisonous snakes, some picked off by the enemy, etc. They wandered around seemingly aimlessly and in boredom for 40 years. Their diet, clothing, and environment never changed. Yet when we get to this section on the blessings and curses, God did not say, "I understand your difficult years and therefore understand why you might not want to trust Me or disobey Me." He held them personally accountable for their decisions and commanded obedience, without any caveats or excuses. In our current society, we live at a time with no personal accountability. Whether your current circumstances are blamed on your environment such as those raised in war-torn countries or in our country in high-crime areas; whether you didn't have parents or your parents were addicted to drugs or absent; whether you were born impoverished and in unstable housing; whether you are sick with any sort of malady from cancer to anything else; God does not excuse our response to Him. Grace can only be extended by Him through repentance. Repentance can only occur if we hold ourselves personally accountable for our own sin problem. Though modern psychology would like you to blame everything and everyone but yourself, without personal accountability there can be no healing or repentance.

We read in Deuteronomy 28:1-2, "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:". We read in Deuteronomy 28:15, if they choose to disobey Him, "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:". Notice the word, "all". There are no exceptions from God. The choice was theirs: obedience or disobedience. We don't read once in Scripture where God states that He understands or overlooks sin due to personal circumstances. Everyone was personally accountable for his or her actions. Such a core part of the gospel message is personal responsibility, that this was the first thing Jesus preached when He began His earthly ministry in Matthew 4:17, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Grace is always available, but it wasn't cheap, it cost Jesus His life on the cross. Grace is always available to us but it is not imputed to us for anything except as a result of taking personal responsibility for our actions and coming to Him in repentance. Again, there can be no repentance without personal accountability.

Personal accountability can be hard and painful, it is much easier to blame everyone and everything else. In our society which preaches moral relativism, lack of accountability, and "I'm okay, you're okay", true repentance is avoided for our actions. We read in Deuteronomy 29:18-19, "...and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates of my heart'-as though the drunkard could be included with the sober." We read in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Our heart, our excuses, following the norms of society, are not a reliable guideline for life. God's Word is the only reliable guideline for living. With it, as long as it is read with an open heart and mind, comes repentance, grace, and freedom from bondage.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster