Pastor Scott - “Wholly Holy” - Deuteronomy 7
What do you think of when you hear the word “holy”? The dictionary defines holy as: Someone or something dedicated to God. Someone dedicated to service to God. Someone morally and spiritually excellent. By this definition, we can all be holy. But how? What does it mean to be holy? As we dive into Deuteronomy 7, we will see not only what it means to be holy but how God makes us holy. By yourself, you cannot be holy. But the good news, is you don’t have to do it by yourself. Only in Jesus can you be forgiven. Only with the Holy Spirit can you be redeemed, changed and made holy! So…What does it mean to be holy?
To be holy means you don’t follow other gods (vv.1-6) Being holy means you are separated from the things of the world. It means not following what the world follows. It means being dedicated to the One that really matters.
Holy people don’t follow gods. They follow the ONE TRUE GOD!
Moses clearly reminds the Israelites that when they defeat their bigger and stronger enemies, to not forget that it was God who delivered them. Then to make sure they don’t start following other gods, they are to destroy any trace of other gods in their lives. (2-5) God doesn’t want there to be anything in our lives that would compromise our faith in Him. Why were they called to be holy? They were God’s chosen people! (v.6) Well, you were chosen by God too! And you are called to be holy! And like the Israelites, we are commanded not to follow other gods. For the Israelites, failure to destroy these things would lead to compromise and destruction.
How many times have we ignored God and followed other gods? Other gods take the shape of many forms. Have you put other things before the One who should be the most important in your life? What is number one in your life? Is it God? Is it something else? We need to follow the One true God. Not fake imitations.
To be holy means you know God personally (vv.7-10) When you know God personally, it impacts who you are, how you talk, how you treat others, how you live. To be dedicated to God means you need to know who He is. The more you know Him, the more you will want to serve Him. We can know God personally! (v. 7-8)
Israel knew God personally. They saw how He delivered them from the Egyptians. He led them through the desert for 40 years. He led them to the Promised Land. He provided food and water and shelter. He gave them guidance. He gave them protection. He gave them victories and lessons in defeat. And God chose you too. v. 7 choose = distinguished, loved, pleasing, especially chosen. God chose you because He loves you. He chose you because He wants to have a relationship with you.
Know God! Know that He is God! (v.9) Know = to know intimately. To know so well you understand. You need to know God personally to be holy! To be holy means you know God personally.
To be holy means you obey God’s commands. (vv.11-16) If you obey God’s commands, it not only shows an outward obedience of an inward faith but also becomes a practice, a good habit. You get used to making good choices. Get accustomed to doing what God wants you to do. Obeying God’s Word leads to a life of holiness and shows that you are dedicated to Him.
(v.12) = listen “pay attention” = give undivided attention. To understand and obey. To give heed to! God is telling the Israelites to destroy any evidence of the people they conquer. To not leave any trace of anything that can sway their faith. If they do, a lot of good things will happen: Bless the fruit of their womb; Bless their crops and animals; Bless their families; Bless their health; Curse their enemies; But if they don’t listen to His commands, it will be like a snare. Snare = noose, hook used to catch animals suddenly. Animals would voluntarily walk into these traps and then be caught. Holiness keeps us from being snared by the devil. Living a holy life and obeying commands prevents us from disobedience and unholiness. If we ignore God’s commands, it’s like we walk into snares which will hurt us. God is warning us to not be enticed by anything that would take our eyes off of Him. What is God telling you to do?
God’s Word is filled with commands that are there to bless you! What is God’s Word telling you to do? You won’t know unless you read God’s Word. Read it, meditate on it, memorize it, study it. All that is great but it won’t mean much if you don’t do it! You need to apply it to your life! If you want to be holy, you need to obey God’s commands and listen to what He is telling you to do.
To be holy means you trust God. As you get to know God personally, follow Him alone and obey His commands, you will find it easier to trust Him. Trust is a direct result of all these things. When you trust God, you put full faith in Him, it reflects a holiness lifestyle and gives you a peace and a joy that is reflected in the way you live. (vv.17-19)
Israel is reminded that this is the same God that performed miracles to help them escape Pharaoh and leave Egypt. The same God that divided the Red Sea. The same God that protected, guided and fed them in the desert for 40 years. And that’s the same God for you and me! We don’t put our trust blindly into something we hope will help us. We have seen God at work! The same God who loved and guided the Israelites is the same God who loves you and guides you! The same God who created Adam and Eve is the same God who created every atom in our bodies. Same God who chose to leave comforts of Heaven to come to Earth to save us. Same God who hung on the cross, died and rose on the third day. The exact same God who promises us eternity in Heaven for all who believe and give their lives to Him! How many times in your own life were you faced with a tough situation only to see God show up and deliver you from doom?
For the Israelites, it should have been easy for them to trust because they saw what God had done. Well, it should be easy for us too. We have seen with our own eyes, miracles every day. Do you trust that when there is a setback there will soon be a major comeback? Do you trust that when you give up something He doesn’t want you to have, He will bring something better? Do you trust that when a door closes, He will open the right one for you? Do you trust God? Do you trust Him enough to give Him your heart? To give Him the steering wheel of your life?
My obedience to follow Him and trust Him with my life has helped me grow in my personal relationship with Jesus. It’s hard to call myself “holy” but based on the definition I shared earlier, I do strive to be someone dedicated to service to God. But this call is not just for pastors or missionaries. You all can be holy – we can be a holy church filled with dedicated followers of Jesus who strive to follow Him, know Him personally, obey His commands and trust Him no matter where He leads!
Praise Songs: Your Grace is Enough; Refiner’s Fire; Lord, I Need You; Doxology