Being a good person will not save you (Deuteronomy 34)

I sat down and pulled out a sheet of paper. I bent over my desk and carefully began to write.

It was a note of apology to my fourth-grade teacher. I was asking her forgiveness for lying.

On Treat Day, when all the other students got donuts, I told her that my vegan parents allowed me to chew gum. After all, I wanted a treat, too. It worked. I got my chewing gum.

But, as I explained in the letter, my victory was hollow. In reality, I was not allowed to chew gum any more than I was allowed to eat donuts. I hadn’t even been able to enjoy the gum because of my guilt.

With a finally clear conscience, I signed the note and slipped it under my former teacher’s door and returned to my sixth-grade class.

That’s right – I wrote the apology letter two whole years after the incident.

That guilt over the chewing gum debacle haunted me for two years all because of a simple phrase my mother had told me when I was very small:

“Be sure your sin will find you out.”

I took it seriously. Honestly, it scared me to death. I was convinced that any lie I told would one day bite me in the butt unless I made things right.

After all, I didn’t want to end up like Moses.

Moses didn’t want to end up like Moses, either. Because in Deuteronomy 34, Moses dies.

He was 120 years old. But…he was healthy. He had energy. He could have led the Israelites even further, probably all the way to the Promised Land.

You see, Moses didn’t really die of old age. He died as a punishment. In Numbers 20, when God asked Moses to speak to a rock to feed the thirsty Israelites, Moses disobeyed. He allowed arrogance and anger to drive him, and he hit the rock instead. Because of his sin, God told Moses that he would never step foot in the Promised Land.

So amidst the weeping of the people he had led mostly faithfully for years, Moses laid down and took his last breath.

He left behind his beloved family, several books of the Bible, and a great nation.

But he also left behind an important lesson.

Sin is not a joke

I lowkey hate reading this portion of the Bible because I feel so bad for Moses.

We’ve watched this man love God and love Israel.

We’ve watched him put up with Israel. We’ve watched him put his life on the line for Israel. We’ve watched him feed and clothe and take care of Israel. We’ve watched him plead with Israel to follow God.

Centuries and millennia later, we can look back and say that there has never been a prophet like Moses. There’s never been a prophet who came so close to Jesus, who served so miraculously as God’s hands and feet (verse 10-12).

And yet. And yet. Despite everything, Moses can’t even reap the reward of his labors.

It stings.

But it’s supposed to.

By causing Moses to die, God taught him a lesson. He taught the Israelites a lesson. And He taught you and me a lesson.

We can’t avoid the consequences of our sin.

It doesn’t matter how often we go to church, or how many times we’ve read through the Bible.

It doesn’t matter if we lead the youth ministry at our church.

It doesn’t matter if we post about Jesus on social media.

It doesn’t matter how good we are.

If we sin, we’ll be punished.

So we can’t take it lightly. We can’t ignore it. We have to fight against it. We have to resist sin.

But we can’t do it alone.

“I want your life to change right now.”

“God knows my heart.”

“Girl, I’m a work in progress.”

“Nobody is perfect.”

How many times have we said these things – knowing, lowkey, deep down – that we don’t really feel like making any changes right now?

Lackadaisical. That’s how we are about sin. We think we can take our time. We think we can give part of our lives to God now, and the rest? Eventually. We think we can get ourselves together later, after we’ve had some fun.

But we don’t have time to waste. Sin is hurting us right now. Sin is eroding our relationship with God right now. Sin is poisoning our lives, threatening our joy, right now.

Because what all our light jokes and lazy acknowledgement fails to take into account is that sin is a choice.

Sin has never been an accident. It’s not a whoopsie. It’s not something we trip and fall into.

Sin is a choice. It’s voluntary. It’s something we willingly step into. In the moment when I sin, I know what God wants for me, but I decide that what I want is the better option.

This fact does not mean we should demonize ourselves or try to urge ourselves to earn our salvation.

What this means is that we need to take this seriously.

We’re out here playing games with our lives, meanwhile, Jesus sees us destroying ourselves and desperately wants to pull us out of our self-dug pits.

But if we got here with a decision, we can get out with a different decision. Surrender.

What I want must always come secondary to what God wants.

If we honestly make this decision and honestly ask God to give us strength, then won’t He answer? Won’t He give us supernatural strength? Won’t He change our hearts and our lives?

Won’t He do things we thought were impossible?

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that there’s always a way out of temptation.

That means there’s always a path to victory.

But it doesn’t come through being a kind of good person.

It comes through surrender. It comes through faith. It comes through God’s power, and God’s power alone.

What will you decide?

What do you think? How seriously do you take sin? Comment below or share with a friend!

3 thoughts on “Being a good person will not save you (Deuteronomy 34)

  1. Very powerful dear sis. And yes sadly we delay making things right with God , a minute, a day,, a month,, 2 yrs or more…Lord have mercy on us!! Help us to hate sin like you do ! 😥

    Liked by 1 person

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