"The Beauty and Responsibility of Citizenship"
When Moses gives advice to the Israelites, he is also speaking to us, letting us know all that God has done for us and what he expects of us in return.
The Beauty and Responsibility of Citizenship
1. This morning I would like to talk about citizenship.
a. Most of us here are citizens of the United States
b. With that citizenship comes great benefits
c. And there are some responsibilities that accompany that citizenship
i. Laws to be obeyed
ii. Taxes to be paid
iii. Perhaps military service
d. Most of us here are citizens of another kingdom and that’s the one I want to talk about this morning
2. Let’s go back to one of the best summaries of what it means to be a citizen of God’s kingdom – Deuteronomy 10:12-18
3. The book of Deuteronomy is a record of a series of speeches made by Moses to the Israelites just prior to his death and the Israelite crossing of the Jordan into the promised land.
4. God through Moses wants the people to understand who they are, who God is, how they are supposed to behave in their new home, the blessings of obedience and the curses resulting from disobedience.
5. The kingdom of Israel at the time of Moses was a physical, tangible kingdom with flesh and blood people and leaders. God chose the descendants of Abraham through Jacob to be his chosen people. His people were enslaved by the Egyptians and suffered under that slavery. God rescued them with His power and brought them out with the intent to give them a promised land where they would have God as king. We also were enslaved to sin and suffered under the rule of Satan. God rescued us by His power through the sacrifice and resurrection of his son. We are invited to participate in a new kingdom where God is king. Ours is a temporary physical kingdom and an eternal spiritual kingdom. We are God’s chosen people just like the Israelites were thousands of years ago.
6. We begin in verse 12
a. “And now, O Israel” Even though Moses is talking to the Israel of 1500 B.C. the
same message applies to us because we to are “Israel”
7. Chosen people
a. Deuteronomy 14:2: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”
b. 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation belonging to God.” Everyone who has entered into a biblical covenant relationship with Jesus has become a “chosen” person.
a. Exodus 1:11: “So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.”
b. Romans 6:16: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness.”
9. Unable to save ourselves
a. Exodus 3:7-8: “The Lord said, ’I have seen their misery…So I have come down to rescue them.”
b. John 3:16: “God sent his son….Whoever believes in Him should not perish”
a. Exodus 6:1: “Because of my mighty hand he will let them go.”
b. 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might not die..”
a. Genesis 17:10: “This is my covenant with you and your descendants…Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.”
b. Hebrews 9:15: “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant; Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved..”
c. Ephesians 1:13 “having believed you were marked in him with a seal the promised Holy Spirit.”
a. Deuteronomy 10:16 “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.”
b. Romans 12:2 “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
13. Blessings & Curses
a. Deuteronomy 11:15-17 “So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul – then I will send rain …. And you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods… Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens…”
b. Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
14. Therefore all the advice Moses Gives to physical Israel applies to us as well!!! So let’s see what he says:
15. Next slide: Continuing in Deuteronomy 10 “What does the Lord ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”
a. Fear the Lord
i. Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy the soul and body in hell”
ii. 1 Peter 1:17 “live as strangers here in reverent fear.”
b. Walk in His ways
i. Ephesians 5:1 “Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us..”
c. Love God
i. Matthew 22:37 “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
d. Serve the Lord with all your heart and soul
i. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is heaven.”
e. Observe the Lord’s commands
i. John 15:10 “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I obeyed my Father’s command and remain in his love.”
16. Note that these commands are for our own good!
17. Next slide – Who is God that we should listen to him? Verse 14, 15,17,18 “To the lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all nations, as it is today…. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of Lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”
a. God owns the heavens, even the highest heavens, as well as the earth and everything in it
i. Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
b. Yet the Lord loves you
i. 1 John 4:10 “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
c. Is God of gods and Lord of Lords, mighty and awesome
i. Colossians 1:19 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
d. He shows no partiality and accepts no bribes
i. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
e. Defends the cause of the fatherless and widow and loves the alien
i. James 1: 27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..”
18. Next slide – So again Verse 16
a. “Circumcise your heart. therefore and do not be stiff-necked any longer.”
b. What does he mean by that?
i. Circumcise your heart: Moses is calling for a heart change. He wants the Israelites to become soft-hearted toward the commands of God and to love the God and be motivated by that love. Paul adds to that in his letter to the Colossians where he makes it clear that the only way we can truly accomplish heart circumcision is to allow Christ to do the work: 2:9 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”
ii. Stiff-necked: Do we have any stiff-necked people here today? That would be stubborn, unwilling to take instruction, my way or the hiway, know-it-alls, convinced that they decide what to do and how to do and don’t want to be told what to do by anyone, God included. The Jews were notorious for this unhealthy characteristic. In Acts 7:51 Stephan refers to the Jews as still having a problem in these two areas: “You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: you always resist the Holy Spirit!”
iii. We need to make sure we do not fall into that trap but instead follow the admonition of Jesus in his parable concerning the wise man who built his house on the rock – he both heard the word of God and put it into practice. And that brings us back to the scripture for today Galatians 2:20-21
19. Next slide –. When God calls us to be transformed it is just not about stopping doing sinful things and starting doing righteous things. God wants to see us change, be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. God wants us to truthfully say: “We have been crucified with Christ” We have died to sin, it no longer is our slaveholder, it no longer controls our lives.
20. Next slide. The big “I” is dead! I do not determine what or do or how I do it. God determines what I do, God determines how I do things. His Word and His Spirit enable this to happen. All we have to do is surrender our self-will and allow Him to lead us.
21. Next slide. Christ lives in me. Physically I am not dead but I surrender control of my life to God, following the example of Jesus in doing His will His way and with is motives.
22. Next slide. I live by faith in the Son of God. We put our trust totally in Jesus Christ, assured of his care in this life whatever comes our way and an eternal life with him.
23. Next slide. I do not set aside grace. We know that we cannot attain the perfection of Jesus Christ, that the only hope we have is by trusting Him to save us. But because He saves us we owe Him all of ourselves.
Because God Loves us He invites us to be reconciled to Him, enjoy the blessings of residence in His Kingdom both in this life and for eternity. All we have to do is accept His invitation, make Him Lord of our lives and be united with him through baptism. As Jesus told Nicodemus: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. ”If you have not be born of the water and Spirit and would like to be or if you seek encouragement in your devotion to God we would ask you to forward and pray with us as we stand and sing..
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through law, Christ died for nothing.”