Tuesday, May 21, 2019
You have probably heard the adage, “what one generation does in moderation the next will do to excess.” We’ve not only heard it, but we are living it in our culture. Tragically, we are living it within the church as well. Just ask the older members of your congregation to tell you what the moral status of the church and country was when they were young. To be sure, there was still sin, but it was an embarrassment to be caught in it. No longer is that the case. In fact, we have developed new terms for sin so that it doesn’t have the moral implications of the previous generation and so that we can reduce the guilt factor. We have even come up with genetic justifications for our behavior so that we do not feel condemned by our conscience.
How did we get into this mess? Moses knew in advance how it would happen to the Israelites, and his warnings are relevant for us today.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.
Moses warns his people, but the warnings are for us today as well:
- Be careful – the Hebrew word here means, “to guard by putting a hedge around”. Hedges do two things: they keep outsiders out and they keep insiders in. We are to keep ourselves inside the moral code of God by building a hedge that separates us from the immoral code of the world. “Be on your guard” and “Don’t let your guard down” would be appropriate translations of this phrase.
Check yourself right now – what hedges have you built to protect yourself from moral failure? Do you have Internet security software that eliminates all immoral websites? Do you guard yourself from the lust of the eyes in your television, movie, video, and magazine choices? Do you have a hedge built around your activities and relationships to guard your heart from the lust of the flesh? Do you guard your tongue from the expressions of the pride of life? Put those hedges in place, and be careful.
- Watch yourselves closely – the Hebrew expression here is “to guard with abundance of force”. It takes energy to be on guard all the time. Just think of the energy and determination it takes to be a guard outside of Buckingham Palace: always alert but never flinching. That should describe our determination to remain morally pure.
- Do not forget the things you have seen and do not let them slip from your heart – Here is the slippery slope of moral decay in a nutshell. First, we forget in our minds what God has done and what He requires. Second, our hearts become hardened to the truth because the mind no longer cares. Moses even warns that when the heart becomes hard, it is hard for life. This should awaken within us a sense of urgency to correct the moral decline of our current generation, or they will be lost for life.
- Teach them to your children – the Hebrew word here means “to ascertain by seeing”. What a challenge for us today. We are to teach by modeling the truth in how we live so that the next generation sees it in us and mimics us. I believe the greatest curse upon our current generation is the hypocrisy of the previous generation that says one thing and does the opposite. How can we have any hope for our youth when their parents and role models are justifying immorality for the sake of personal pleasure and gain? No wonder the latest social statistics are shocking to those who care about God’s morality in society. The divorce rate among Christians is now higher than among non-Christians and the percentage of teens involved in pre-marital sex and drug and alcohol use is the same in Christian and non-Christian peer groups. How heartbreaking. How sad. How convicting this should be on our generation. We must be the models and teachers of God’s ways or we will completely lose the next generation.
Moses knew that these things were vital and indispensable to the survival of the nation. They are the same indispensable truths that are vital to the survival of the church and our nation as well. May we take seriously the command of God to teach the next generation to fear God and serve Him, not just with words, but with the example of our lives.