Deuteronomy 13:1-16 (Part 1) – Solo Scriptura (Only Scripture) Should Be The Measuring Stick

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 13:1-16 (Part 1 of 3)

A Warning Against Idolatry

It all sounds good. Unity of religions. Not offending anyone’s belief system. All roads lead to heaven. I like to buy the world a Coke and live in perfect harmony. It’s my body and you should not tell me what I can do with it. If it works for me then it is OK for me. It might not be OK for you but as long as I do not harm you with what I believe then you should not judge me for what I believe. If we all just get along and to no harm then we are OK. If we do more good than bad then we will go to heaven. Your status in life is in direct proportion with your relationship with the Higher Power of the universe. All the wars and hatred that have been brought about because of religion. All the persecution for what you believe that is different from the mainstream of your society. No wonder that our hyper-sensitive Western culture is trending toward complete tolerance and toward all religions being melted together into one world religion. Whatever you believe it is OK.

 

As well, even within our faith of Christianity, there are those believe in the self-centered brand of faith. if you invest in God, He will bring you prosperity and wealth. If He is not bringing you prosperity, there must be some unrepented sin in your life. There are also so-called evangelists who think they must live an opulent lifestyle including private jets because they are God’s spokesperson. God wants them to have this private jet costing $50 Million so that they can spread the gospel. They need this $50 million church and prayer center/retreat for their ministry because that’s what God wants them to have so as to enhance the message of the gospel and its reach into the community and world. There are even churches out there that spread hate more than love and protest anything and everything and even threaten violence to those who don’t accept their brand of the gospel. There are false beliefs and false prophets abounding everywhere. It is hard to accept all this at times. The truth of God seems to be lost in false doctrine all around us.

 

My dad had sayings for everything and I have used them here many times. One of them that he used on my brother and me (especially me) about following the crowd was “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” He was getting across the point that sometimes our friends may be doing something that is right and just because the crowd is doing it, that does not make it right. Just because all your friends try to influence you to do the wrong thing and the pressure is immense to do so, it does not make it OK for you do that wrong thing. It is kind of the same thing today, how do we know that all of this one world religion is not the way to go. How do we know that God is not withholding prosperity from us because there is some hidden sin in our lives? How do we know that some megachurch movement is gone off the rails in showering its leader in opulent living?

 

That idea that the true gospel has gotten lost in the myriad of false voices out there is what I thought of this morning when I read Deuteronomy 13. Let us read it together this morning:

 

13 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

 

12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[b] both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, 17 and none of the condemned things[c] are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors— 18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.

 

How are we to know what to do? What is right? How do we know that the things that we are hearing are false doctrines or not? It all seems so confusing and it all sounds so good in one way or another. Why would there be these large religions with worldwide reach if there was not something good about each one of them? Why can’t Jesus and Mohammed be equal to one another? Why can’t we believe what we want to believe? It sounds like such an easy solution to an age-old problem. People have fought wars over religions and over religious misunderstandings. Why can’t we just co-exist? Similarly, why can’t I as a Christian believe that God wants to bless me with prosperity as long as I behave just right and do more good than bad. Why can’t we all just go to heaven after doing more good than bad. After all, we want a God that is totaling non-judgmental and all loving and let’s us all go to heaven in the end unless we are just completely evil. Makes it all pretty sanitary and wrapped up in nice package with a bow on top. How do we know if these are ideas are true or not?

 

Attractive doctrines from attractive leaders are not always from God. Moses warned the Israelites against false prophets who would encourage them to worship the wrong things. New ideas from inspiring people may sound good, but we must judge them and their message by whether or not it is consistent with God’s Word. When people claim to speak for God today, check them against Scripture. Are they telling you the truth compared to the message of God’s Word? Are the words you are hearing seem self-centered toward ourselves or who is spouting the new way of thinking rather than toward God. It is possible that they are twisting God’s Word to advance their own cause or to advance a movement among people. When we hear a new attractive idea (such as the one-world religion, anything you believe is OK movement), compare it to what God says in Scripture. The message of God is consistent throughout – from Genesis to Revelation. God certainly is not against new ideas and new thinking but for it to be of God, it must be consistent with the ageless, timeless, eternal principles of God as expressed in His Word.

 

That is part of the reason as leader of my life group when I was considering what for us to study this semester, the Holy Spirit led me toward what to study – a book of the Bible. A lot of times in the new wave church movement of the past two decades, we often get caught up in who the next greatest author in Christian writing is. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesomely inspired writers out there like Mark Batterson, Francis Chan, and David Platt just to name a few. These guys are awesome. They really get what the gospel is all about. But yet they cannot replace the Word of God itself. We must study Scripture itself. We must know Scripture itself. We must meditate on Scripture itself. Sure we can read the latest Chan or Platt book to help us understand and apply Scripture to our daily lives but they are not intended to replace our study of the Word itself.

 

Martin Luther when he started the revolution against the excesses of the Catholic church, his basic theme was “solo scriptura” – only Scripture. We must make Scripture the only thing that really matters. It is nice to have traditions and even books about the book but The Book is the only thing that matters in the end. It is God’s Word. It is ordained by God. It is inspired by God. What’s included in it is directed by God through the Holy Spirit. We cannot and should not add to it or take away from it. It is that by which we must measure everything.

 

Amen and Amen.

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