Deuteronomy 8-9

The Danger of Disregarding God.

“After the LORD your God has done this for you, don’t say to yourselves, ‘The LORD has given us this land because we are so righteous!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is doing it.” – Deuteronomy 9:4 NLT

Excessive self-reliance and self-importance can destroy our concept of God. We can become so self-consumed that we turn God into a caricature of Himself. He becomes less the all-powerful, Holy God than a personal valet who meets our desires and rewards us for our good deeds. This is a risk the Israelites faced and it is one that confronts us today. In chapters eight and nine, Moses covers two themes with the people: remembering/forgetting and wilderness/Promised Land. He warns them to remember all that God has done for them during their years in the wilderness. He led them, fed them, humbled them, tested them, taught them, and disciplined them. Then he warns them not to forget all that God has done for them once they arrive in the Promised Land. Moses knew that they would have a tendency to think they somehow deserved all they are getting because of their own righteousness. In spite of their track record of rebellion and sinfulness. They would develop short-term memory loss and forget what the incident of the golden calf and their habit of grumbling and complaining against God. Instead, they would falsely think of themselves as righteous and somehow deserving of all the blessings found in the land of promise. They would wrongly conclude that all this was all because of THEM. So Moses wants to remind them of their own sin, so they would understand God’s mercy and grace.

While there is an extreme form of pride that completely leaves God out of the picture and tends to attribute success and prosperity self-effort, there is another kind of pride that is more insidious and dangerous. It comes disguised as a false sense of humility expressing gratitude to God for all His blessings. But hidden behind the veneer of gratefulness and admissions of God undeserved goodness is a subtle belief that we somehow deserve what we are getting. His blessings are somehow proof of our own righteousness. Like the Israelites we say, “Because of my righteousness the Lord has given me this land.” In other words, we can acknowledge God’s goodness while basing it on our own righteousness. God is good to us because we are good!

This kind of thinking tends to distort and disregard the true nature of God. He was a sovereign God who had chosen them, not because of anything special about them, but because He chose to do so. They were no more deserving of His goodness than any other nation. He was displacing the Canaanites and other people groups because of their own rebellion and sinfulness, not because of the righteousness of Israel. Whenever we begin to think that we somehow deserve or have in any way earned God’s favor, we diminish God. He devalue His grace and mercy. We make ourselves the hero and God the dispenser of rewards for our righteousness. And in doing so we fail to remember the truth: We are sinners saved by grace. We are rebels who deserved death, but have been given life and righteousness. We are a stubborn and stiff-necked people whom God has chosen to redeem, in spite of us, not because of us.

Father, we are so prone to take credit for all You have done for us. We want to somehow think we deserve Your blessings. We want to believe that we have earned Your good favor by our good actions. But we are a stubborn and stiff-necked people. We suffer from short-term memory loss and a false sense of self-worth. Forgive me for devaluing all You have done by wrongly valuing what I have done. You get all the credit all the time. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men