What we’re pulling out of this text today and applying to our lives today may at first seem contradictory, but I don’t believe that it is.
Throughout these chapters, we see the phrase, “purge the evil from among you.” In fact, many of the instructions God gave to the Israelites were for this very purpose.
Purging implies a complete eradication. If my kids had lice, my goal would be a complete purge. Mostly gone wouldn’t cut it. That’s how God sees sin.
Purge sin completely
Paul gives a great analogy in 1 Corinthians 5, comparing sin among the body of Christ (the church) to yeast,
“Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?”
And in Ephesians 5 he uses that analogy again, and gives even more instruction on choosing God’s best (living by the Spirit) instead of choosing what comes naturally (the sinful nature).
Let’s come back to that thought after we look at our next principle. Exclusion.
Come to the Table
In Deuteronomy chapter 23, we’re shown a list of those who are to be excluded from entering the assembly of the LORD. Those of certain ancestry, illegitimate birth, or certain physical deformities were forbidden.
Instead of applying this principle directly to believers today, what strikes me is my gratefulness that Jesus changed all of this for us.
In Matthew 22 he tells a story of a banquet that the invited guests have declined to attend. The host decides to invite everyone, even the ‘undesirables’.
“So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
Paul addresses this as well in 1 Corinthians 6 when, after listing all of those who will not be a part of God’s kingdom….the sexually immoral, idolators, thieves, the greedy, the drunkards and more… he says to the church,
“And that is what some of you were.”
You might be thinking that these two principles give counter instructions. After all, how can we “purge the evil from among us” if we are not excluding the wicked and sinful people?
Simply put, we are the sinful people. God invites us to the table despite our wickedness, despite our illegitimacy. Once invited, the banquet changes us. As we indulge in the presence of God’s pure holiness, we are called to purge sin from our life and from our church body. But let us never forget, like Paul writes in 1 Timothy, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+21-23&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 24-27 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan