Years ago, I was teaching a Bible study on the role of the wife in a marriage. We spent a good while discussing God’s command that a wife submit to her husband. One of the ladies teasingly asked, “Do I have to submit to him ALL the time?”
Without conscious thought, my immediate response was this…
Well, it just depends on how much blessing, or curse, you want.
I was joking back with her, but realized that that really was a good, Biblical answer. To any temptation we face in life. And came from Deuteronomy 11:26.
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
Which is the condensed version of what God told Moses to tell Israel in our reading this week in Leviticus chapter 26. God would bless them, if they obeyed His commands. But if they turned from Him, God would send punishment, or curse, upon them.
And God is very specific in His list of those blessings and curses.
What are the blessings God promises Israel?
Rain in due season
Safety from foreign invasion
Peace in the land
Freedom from fear
Safety from dangerous animals
Strength and victory against enemy armies
The close presence of God
What are the curses God will bring against their rejection of Him?
Sorrow of heart
No protection from enemies
Wild animals would kill their children and livestock
Plagues and pestilence
Famine like no other until they would see their children’s flesh as food to be eaten
All the cities and land laid waste and destroyed
But the worst was…
The worst consequence of Israel’s rebellion, I believe, is found in this statement…
and my soul shall abhor you. Leviticus 26:30
I want blessing!
As I read the list of blessings God promises Israel versus the list of curses and punishments, I thought, “There’s no contest. I want blessings! And only blessings!”
Furthermore, I cannot imagine continuing in sin so determinedly that I get to the point that my Father would “abhor,” or loathe and detest me. O Lord, may it never be. For I know…
If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31b
I want always to know that God is for me. Not against me!
What does the New Testament say?
This law of sowing and reaping, either blessing or curse, is repeated in the New Testament.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7-8
And while I know that I cannot as a child of God ever be separated from His love (Romans 8:38-39), I can reap His chastening hand upon me. For any child of God, is fully capable of falling into abominable sin that God abhors.
And must not let go unpunished.
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:32
In His love and mercy, God will seek to restore His child back to fellowship with Himself. By whatever means necessary to get our attention.
Have you ever known a professing Christian, living contrary to the Word of God, who just could not understand why their life was crumbling around them? Why God just would not answer their prayers? Why He seemed to just be so unfair to them?*
They wanted to feel that God was near to them (1 John 1:7) and was hearing their prayers (Psalms 66:18) and was providing for their needs (Philippians 4:15-19), but were not willing to meet God’s conditions of obedience to be able to reap those blessings.
And that’s sad. Because God longs to give to us. In abundance!
God’s View of Sin Shows the Magnitude of His Mercy.
If there is one thing that the Book of Leviticus makes very clear to me, it is the fact that God views sin very seriously. Our sin, our rejection of Him, God does not take lightly.
For, it cost Him dearly! His only begotten Son!
Therefore, God’s warnings against sin are not empty threats. God hates sin. (Proverbs 6:16)
Leviticus not only teaches us the severity of God’s view on sin, but also the depth and wonder of God’s willingness to extend mercy to us sinners.
God’s utter hatred for sin clearly highlights and reveals to us the exceeding magnitude of the mercy and grace He offers to us, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus!
Over and over God reminds the children of Israel in chapter 26 that they have a choice. They can turn to Him again in repentance and humility. Or…He will send more chastening, more curse.
And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. Leviticus 26:18
But they have a choice!
And we do, too. We can obey. Or, not.
We can lead a life of blessing. Or, not.
We Can Win Against Temptations!
Temptations come at us from the moment we awake in the morning until the moment we fall asleep each night. And from every possible source. If not from Satan, then our own flesh provides those temptations.
Temptations to complain, gossip, ignore the needs of others, skip our quiet time with God, skip church, etc. The list is endless.
While we live in this world, temptation will be an ongoing battle.
But praise God, through the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit within us, we can have the victory and win against temptation more often than not!
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4
We don’t have to live in defeat and ever-mounting regret.
How do I know this? Because God has given us the ability to choose. And the power of His Spirit to make the right choice…when we stop and listen to His voice within. As He reminds us of His hatred of sin, His desire to bless us, and His great love and mercy to us…
And then compels us to ask ourselves one critical question.
Do I want God’s blessing…or do I want God’s curse?
I know that God would rather have me motivated by my love for Him. But when my love for Him has waned and isn’t enough, He knows that fear is also a great motivator. Sometimes the only one that will work.
I pray that we all will choose blessing today and walk with our God who loves us so completely. And thereby, show Him the love He so absolutely deserves!
Drawing nigh to Him,
*Making right choices does not guarantee that we never face hard times. Neither do the hard times necessarily indicate that there is sin in our lives. However, if we are seeking to live for the Lord, we can rest in the blessing of knowing that those hard times are sent for God’s good purposes and not for correction.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
I mentioned those who live a life away from God, yet want His blessings. Have you ever been that way? How did God bring you to a place of understanding and blessing?
What words of wisdom and encouragement can you offer to someone who might be struggling with temptation today?