We see in this passage as God is getting the people to go forth into the land He is giving them, He warns them that they should be different from the people that they are going to see. They must not worship the pagan idols, they must not partake in those evil things, they must not allow their children to become intertwined with the other nations.
Why is God doing this? Why can't Israel become friends with these new folks? Aren't we encouraged to be in the world, but not of the world? The reason why God says this is knows that they are prone to wander away from Him, and if they allow these idols to stay in their presence, then they too will engage in pagan worship. And if we look a couple of of books down in the Bible, we see that is what happened. The only way they could stay true is to get rid of the idols and sin in their lives.
So it is for us as well. We are as they were. We are pone to wander away from God. We give into temptation, we do things that are wrong. We commit sin each day. And because this sin destroys us, we must drive it out. We must not allow it to stand. We must allow God to search within us and drive out all sin. Because if we don't we will fall into that trap of sin again and again. The great hymn of the faith Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing puts it like this
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
New Testament Lesson
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
As a parent, there really is no greater joy than seeing your child achieve something great. I've had more joyous moments the past 2 years watching my daughter grow than I have had in all my life before. It is such a sense of joy, of pride, of all these things rolled into one.
We see Paul today say that the Thessalonian church gives him that same feeling of joy, for they have grown from what he has taught them. They have become more mature they have moved on to the deep things of Christ. We as Christians have the same ability that Paul did. We can pass on this faith to our children and grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, to our children in church.
And if we think we get a sense of pride watching our children grow, imagine the sense of pride we will feel when our children grow in Christ. And it doesn't' have to be a child, but someone new in Christ. Are we taking the time to teach and enjoy fellowship to those that need to learn of the Lord? Are we taking advantage of that gift the Lord has offered? Thing of the joy that we rob them of by not sharing Christ with them, and think of the joy that we rob ourselves of.
We see in this passage what Christian righteousness looks like. It is not just about the actions, but about the heart. It is not just enough not to murder someone, but in our hearts, we must not hate. It is not just enough to "act right." Now, we should act right. Our actions must conform to what God wants us to do, but if we act right but have hate in our hearts, we haven't accomplished anything.
God wants to transform us, but he must first start with the heart. Today, are you actions right? What about your heart? Today, do you hate someone in your heart? It is not enough to not just murder. We must not hate in our hearts. Today, how is your heart? The Word says before we bring our offering to God, we must make things right with our neighbor. Before you go to church Sunday, is there someone you need make right with? The Word says that we must.