It’s pretty easy to develop a cavalier attitude toward sin. We’re saved by grace anyway, right? “Everybody’s got sin problems,” we say, and, “After all, nobody’s perfect.” And a few other platitudes like those make us feel better.
But they shouldn’t. We shouldn’t ever become relaxed about sin.
The Old Testament has a lot of scary passages, and we’ve got to be careful when we apply them to our time. But they’ve got something important to say to us.
Here’s one of them:
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ . . . . you shall kill him (Deuteronomy 13:6,9).
Yes, you read that right. If you lived in Moses’ day and someone you loved tried to get you to worship other gods, you would execute him. If you read the rest of the chapter, you’d discover that you would be the one who threw the first stone (at your spouse, sibling, child, or best friend).
But necessary? According to the Law, yes. It was essential to the identity of God’s covenant people that they keep themselves distinct from the nations around them.
Because the Law of Moses advocates capital punishment in this situation and many others, we tend to avoid it.
“Good thing we don’t live under that Law now,” we say with a sigh of relief. “That must’ve been terrible.” And we miss the whole point.
There’s a principle there that’s as relevant now as it’s ever been. The passage reflects the main point of being in covenant with God—serving him above all else.
I suspect some of the Israelites may have wondered if God was that serious about what he said. God’s answer was emphatic. Anyone who led people away from him—even someone you love more than anyone on earth—received no mercy.
The putting-to-death part of the commandment doesn’t apply to us, of course, but what is extremely relevant is that God says we must take sin seriously.
It has always mattered to God, and it ought to matter to us. —Chuck