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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Psalm Ten: Arise, O Yahweh! O God, Lift Up Your Hand! | Main | "Hallelujah all I have is Christ, Hallelujah, Jesus is my life." »

    This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off

    Visitor
    In my devotions this morning, I was reading from Deuteronomy 30, and was startled by words in verses 11 and 14 that sounded almost like a Pelagian declaration of human ability:

    "This commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off...."The word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it."
    Can you comment on a proper understanding of that passage?

    Response
    Those who are regenerate have been set free by the Spirit of Christ to the bondage of "total depravity" (John 8:36, Romans 6:18). Bondage to sin is a characteristic of those not yet born from above. Now that you have been born from above and the Spirit indwells you, "God's commands are not too difficult for you, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." (1 John 5:4). This parallel passage to the one you have quoted in Deuteronomy reveals a new affection granted to the regenerate.

    Isolated, the Deuteronomy Text has every appearance of a Pelagian declaration, but in the context of the passage you quoted it actually reveals the exact opposite. What does it say? The promise of God to them was "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:5-7). Don't know if you noticed this but this text is in the same passage you quoted. It is the indicative (grace) that the imperative (commandment) was grounded in. Their obedience springs from God's prior action in them. The Word is near to them and where you find the Word, the Spirit is also working in the children of promise. The Israelites had been set free and were in covenant with God. The promises of grace, mind you, were just as valid for Old Testament believers as New Testament believers, otherwise, like us, none of them would have had hope.

    In the New Testament other parallel passages might be found in 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:18.

    Posted by John on June 28, 2010 12:34 PM

    Comments

    context, context, context.

    I agree that Moses is talking about a future circumcision and the obedience that follows in verse 6. But hasn't he returned to talking about the present in verse 11? If not, when does he, and how can you tell? Thanks!

    Kelton,

    The promise is for them and their offspring. So it is not speaking of some far off future. OT saints were not saved by works, ever. Notice the promise says "the LORD your God will circumcise your heart...that you may live." - so obviously there is no genuine saving faith, obedience or life apart from Spirit circumcision.

    John

    I just had the opportunity to teach on this last week in our Doctrines of Grace class. I agree with John and would also point out that a key to understanding that this verse is in the broader context of salvation history is Romans 10:5-13 where Paul quotes it. It is clear that this verse is a reference of faith secured through Christ. The application of this promise to Israel is found in the fullness of the new covenant promise of salvation by Grace through Faith.

    God does speak through his word so to see and hear. Into our very hearts and lives! What amazing wonder he is to know. Too hard to obey his command is made possible only by his love revealed through faith in Christ crucified for a wretch like me. Else, there is no hope but that of the world!

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