Deuteronomy 20:1-20 (Part 2) – You Are Who You Hang Out With!

Posted: March 6, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 20:1-20 (Part 2)

Regulations Concerning War

For the past few weeks, our senior pastor has been preaching a series of sermons entitled Relationship Goals. In previous weeks, it has been about our relationship with God, our relationship with our spouse, and this week it was about our relationship with friends. One of the key phrases was that “you cannot live a right life with the wrong friends!” Another was “show me your friends and I will show you your future!” Our pastor’s sermon was basically saying that we are so completely influenced by our friends that it can affect our walk with the Lord.

 

He was not saying that we must abandon friends who have not come to the Lord yet but we must not allow their ungodly behaviors become the norms of our own life. We must be able to tell the difference between fitting in with the crowd and doing what we know to be against God’s Word. If we hang around with guys that are staying out all night (while their wives are at home) at the bars, we are most likely going to be in situations that we lead us to getting into trouble with the law, having affairs, and so on. It’s like a person trying to recover from a drug addiction hanging out at parties where drugs are the reason for the party. We are who we hang out with. If you hang out with a guy who is having an affair, it is likely to affect how you think about your relationship with your wife. We must have discernment as Christ followers to know the difference between being in the world and not of it. We may have friends that openly participating in unrepentant sin but we must separate ourselves from participating in and even approving of their sin lifestyle. If we immerse ourselves in situations where sin is seen as OK and even revered, we must be strong enough in the Lord to know that it is wrong and not participate in it. Sometimes, the pull may be so strong that we must separate ourselves from such friends. We must draw our strength in knowing what is right and what is wrong by having Christian friends that are ahead of us in our walk (so they can teach us from their own experience how to deal with the sinful world around us), having friends that are equal with us in our walk (so we can share our mutual struggles) and people that are younger than us in our walk with Christ (so that we can pass on the things that we have learned). We cannot learn what we need to know about Jesus Christ from people who are openly shaking their fist at God. Sure, we must witness to them but we cannot violate God’s commands on our lives just to maintain our friendships with them. We are who we hang out with. And, sure, as we grow more mature in Christ, we can more easily tell the difference between witnessing and immersing ourselves in sinful lifestyles and more easily withstand the temptations to sin ourselves but we must be careful. With those that are young in Christ, it may sometimes require that we separate ourselves from our old sin habits and the friends we participated in those sins with.

 

Before I was a Christ follower, when I was working at Dunlop Slazenger Corporation (DSC) back in the day (1987-1995), I can assure you that what you immerse yourself in, you become. At DSC in those days, we were a young crowd of yuppies working at a corporate office. Practically everyone of the 100 or so people that worked there were in their 20’s or 30’s at that time, some in their 40s (senior execs), but most the rest of us were in our 20’s and 30’s. The disease of adultery invaded our office and it became the cool thing to do. Everybody was having an affair with someone at that office. I had grown up in the church as a preacher’s kid so I knew that adultery was wrong and I dare bet everyone else there did too. I could go into all the reasons that my participation in the sins of that place were justifiable (my wife at the time, my first wife, had her own affair during her drug addiction phase of life, that had been going on for years and it had destroyed our marriage). Every time, we participate in sin, we can justify somehow. I could justify it by saying that the woman I had affair with eventually became my second wife. I could justify it up one side and down the other as that I deserved the happiness. Justifying it does not make it right. I should have never participated in that which I knew was wrong. But I wanted to be cool. I was unhappy in my marriage and I wanted to be seen as enlightened like the rest of the folks there. I had my justifications for my sin, but if I had been in a work environment that had higher moral standards maybe the path of my life that my sins of 1991-1993 that led to my first divorce and the hellish thing that it was and how it affected my life negatively for more than a decade. Although my second marriage had its great moments, it was undone by that whole my kids vs. your kids thing that happens in second marriages. Godless marriages end it godless places. Neither of my first two marriages had God at the center of them. We are who we hang out with. At DSC, I knew the difference between right and wrong but I was in a place where no one was honoring their marriages and I fell into that justification game and wanted to fit in and be a part of the gang.

 

Although I can say that all that happened before I was a Christ follower, and that I now have a marriage where God is at the center of it all, I know now that I cannot immerse myself in environments that beg us to sin. We can have friends that are not saved, don’t get me wrong, but we cannot immerse ourselves in lifestyles that we know to be against God’s Word. We must flee from situations where our unsaved friends see their sin as not sin and that it is OK. It’s like seeing a fire. It is a mysterious and beautiful, fire is. And you may know not to touch it but sometimes when we get too close to the flames we will get burned. Just because we are saved does not mean that we are steeled against temptation. The key for a maturing Christian is to know that we cannot immerse ourselves in sin lifestyles and expect not to be drawn in by its temptations.

 

Why does this matter in light of our Scripture passage, Deuteronomy 20:1-20, that we have visited today and yesterday and once more tomorrow. For today, you will see it when we close this blog out for today. But for now, just think of the temptations caused by hanging out with the wrong crowd as we read through the passage:

 

20 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

 

5 The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. 7 Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her.” 8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” 9 When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.

 

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

 

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

 

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

 

In this passage, we can see ourselves in the Israelites, as I said in yesterday’s blog too. We can see ourselves in them when looking at this passage from the perspective of immersing ourselves in cultures of sin. Sometimes, lost in these passages about wiping out whole non-Israelite people groups that occupied the Promised Land. What we don’t often remember is that these occupants of the land were dreadfully sinful people. They were generation after generation of idol worshippers, participants in child sacrifices, sexually immoral and deviant people that shook their fist at the one true God. They were horridly sinful.

 

He instructed the Israelites to completely wipe them from the face of the earth to protect His people from idol worship and participating in lifestyles that were horridly sinful. The Israelites knew that such lifestyles were not honoring to God and they knew that God wanted them to wipe these people from the face of this earth. However, Israel did not believe that they could be influenced so badly by the current inhabitants of the Promised Land so they did not wipe them out. Because Israel did not completely destroy these evil people as God commanded, Israel constantly fell into the lifestyles of idolatry and immoral behaviors of these people. They were influenced heavily by these idol worshippers and sexually immoral people groups. It led Israel into wars and even greater bloodshed and destruction because they did not follow God’s plan in the first place.

 

God’s Word is His place for us today. We must obey it because it is a plan to prosper us and keep us safe from the harms of sin. We must remember that God has our best interest at heart and that He does not want us to go down roads of destruction – not because He is restricting us or making unreasonable demands on us but rather because He loves us. He knows best what is bad for us. But yet we participate in sinful lifestyles in blatant disregard for God’s Word. Often it is because of who we hang out with. Oh this sin is not really a sin. It’s OK. God’s Word is old fashioned. You are supposed to feel good in life. Cmon in. This sin is OK. The next thing you know you are immersed in and participating in it.

 

Who are your friends and what do they say about your life? Do you know when to pull yourself out of relationships that are not God-honoring? Show me your friends and I will show you your future….Just look at what happened to the ancient Israelites!

 

Amen and Amen.

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