(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
Deuteronomy only summarizes a few days in the redemptive story. But it's nonetheless important because Deuteronomy addresses something that we all need to understand. What does it look like to live in light of the grace of God, the grace of God that is most powerfully brought to us through the person and work of the Lord Jesus? I would subtitle Deuteronomy: “Identity, Warning, And Responsibility.”
Deuteronomy basically is built around three sermons of Moses. And those sermons are meant to instill in the people of Israel a sense of identity as the children of God, that they are unlike the surrounding nations because they are the result of His rescuing grace, His forgiving grace, His restoring grace. And so they’re meant to live in light of that identity as the children of God. Now they’re going to go into this land of promise, and they’re going to be assaulted by all kinds of other identities.
And so a major portion of Deuteronomy is warning, warning to these people against the idolatry that is going to be tempting for them. Moses says it this way, “You're going to go into a land that you didn’t get by your own power, in houses that you didn't build, in fields that you didn't plant.” And then he says this shocking thing, “You’re going to forget the God who gave all those things to you, and you’re going to worship false gods.” How sad is that warning, but how needed?
You see, idolatry is not just rooted in the surrounding temptations. Idolatry is always coupled, for us, with God-forgetfulness. When we forget the magnitude of what He has given us and He alone is able to continue to give us, we are susceptible to begin to put other things in its place. That's where the call to responsibility is. Oh, that I would live every day as one who is a recipient of His grace.
Listen, my identity as a child of God should shape the way I approach my dear wife, Luella. It should shape the way that I spend my leisure time and should shape the way that I think about and invest my money; it should shape the way I parent my children; it should shape the way I respond to my neighbor; it should shape the way I eat and take care of my body; it should shape everything. And yet there are idolatries that creep in and compete for my identity as a child of God.
The warning of Deuteronomy is important for everyone who includes themselves in this story of redemption. You see, what God wants me to do with my life is to embed my little story in the larger story of redemption. So every day, I live not with the “Paul's story mentality,” but I live with a “God's story mentality.”
Deuteronomy says, Moses says, “Remember the story that you have been made part of; remember the God who has poured His grace down on you. Don't let yourself forget. Live out of that identity and know that you will face idols; you will face other identities. Commit yourself again and again to remember; and in remembering, live in every sector of your life as a child of God. That warning, given in three messages for three days, is a warning for us all; it's just as important today as it was when it was spoken by Moses.