My Bible reading plan currently has me in Deuteronomy. As such, i came across the following passage a few days ago:
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’—which neither you nor your fathers have known, any of the gods of the peoples around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other— you must not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity, and do not spare ⌊him⌋ or shield him. Instead, you must kill him. Your hand is to be the first against him to put him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death for trying to turn you away from the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. All Israel will hear and be afraid, and they will no longer do anything evil like this among you.Deuteronomy 13:6-11 (HCSB)
If my friend starts to seek after a false god, i’m supposed to kill him? Surely this can’t be right!
This is where context is important. Even though the Old Testament does showcase the love of God, the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) is the Law for Israel’s theocratic government (a government ruled by God). As such, if someone rebels against God, seeking another “king,” then you do to them what you do to traitors. Execution.
But we no longer live in a theocracy. We live in societies that have laws against murder, even if a person is guilty of a crime for which the Old Testament prescribed death. For the sake of this post, and because of the context of Deuteronomy 13, let’s limit our discussion to the promoting of false gods (or false views of God).
In addition to living in a different society now, we also—and this is much greater—live in the year of our Lord. Jesus’ arrival split the calendar in half. He also seemed to cast aside the harsher aspects of the Law in favor of grace and mercy (cf. John 8:2-11).
The apostle Paul tells us how to treat those who try to persuade us to serve other gods in Titus 3:
Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.Titus 3:10-11 (HCSB)
We are called to warn our friends and family that they are standing in a precarious position. We are called to love them enough to risk our own reputations in their eyes to try to snatch them away from possible judgment if they continue down that path.
But Paul is clear. Warn them twice. After that, leave it to God. If you’ve warned them twice and they refuse to listen, continuing to speak to them about it will likely not change anything. All you can really do is pray that somehow they will come to their senses and seek God authentically.
(For more on this topic, check out this post.)
Do we love our friends and family enough to confront them when we see them departing from God?
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were to love God so much that they were willing to kill their friends and family who departed from God. We have it easy in comparison.
Our love for God is proven by our love for people (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). If we love God enough to desire that others view and love Him rightly, it will lead us to love them enough to tell them that they are on dangerous ground if they don’t turn back to Him.
The question is not: Did you pray a prayer of faith at some point in the past?
The question is: Are you this moment—today—fully trusting in Jesus Christ alone to save you from sin and reconcile you to God?
Salvation is not for fire insurance. It is to be in a restored relationship with our Creator.
We must believe in Christ anew every morning. So trust Him anew now if you’ve been lacking in your commitment to Him.
The simple fact of the matter is we all pursue other gods all the time. But we are graciously allowed to live.
On the cross, 2,000 years ago, Jesus was crushed as one who followed other gods. He was crushed so that all of us who recognize our idolatrous, faithless tendencies could be treated with the perfect faithfulness to God that Jesus displayed during His thirty-three years of life.
Trust Christ today!
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.