Deuteronomy 30:15-16a, 19-20a - (Moses said) "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply ... I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days."
It can be very discouraging sometimes when I talk to non-Christians. "Christianity is too extreme," they say. "We don't need a Savior—why should anybody have to die in order to make things better? No, we just need to try harder. Everyone should live a good life, follow the Ten Commandments, and we'll have heaven on earth, in no time. It's that simple."
Sometimes they go on to complain about God. "After all, he could be a little more helpful. He could do miracles in public, so we'd all see he was real, with our own eyes. Then everyone would believe! And he should punish the evildoers in a dramatic way so people would learn from their mistakes. It's God's fault, really. Why doesn't he try this way?"
The frustrating thing is that God already has tried that way—the entire Old Testament is a record of it. In the Bible passage we have for today, God spells it out in words a child could understand: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days."
In the first five books of the Bible, God spelled out His commands, wrote them down, told the people to memorize them, and gave them teachers and judges to answer questions. He did miracles right in front of them so that no one could doubt God existed and was speaking to them. God satisfied every human demand. And it still went wrong.
For all their great advantages, Israel managed to mess up in every possible way. They did evil so often and so persistently that God finally had to send them into exile for 70 years, away from their own country. This brilliant, obvious plan had failed.
This was no surprise to God, of course. He knows what kind of people we are. But it was a surprise to most of us! The story of Israel is our story—and it's a story we need to hear, so that we put away once and forever the crazy idea that we can somehow save ourselves—that we can just try harder—that we can be our own saviors. Israel couldn't do it. Neither can we.
That is why God's true plan for us is and always has been to send Jesus to become our Savior. We cannot keep the Commandments—but Jesus can, and did. We cannot cleanse our hearts—but Jesus can cleanse them for us. We cannot turn from death to life—but Jesus can raise us to new, everlasting life by the power of His own death and resurrection.
This is why we need a Savior. Because no amount of trying harder will work. But Jesus-yes, He gets the job done.
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for saving us. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Did you ever try to live absolutely perfectly for one whole day? How did that turn out?
2. How does it make you feel, knowing that Jesus has already fulfilled all the requirements of the Law for you?
3. How do you plan to use the freedom and new life Jesus has won for you?
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