God's Rules for War
Dr. Joe Temple


When we began our study of the book of Deuteronomy, we suggested to you that the name Deuteronomy is something that came from the Septuagint Version of the Scriptures; and coming from the Septuagint Version of the Scriptures, we have two Greek words which tell the story of how the book of Deuteronomy actually got its name. Septuagint is the name that was given to the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was translated by seventy Greek scholars into Greek. The word Septuagint indicates that.

In the original text, there are no names for these various books. The first line of the first verse usually indicated the name, but because of the subject matter of the book of Deuteronomy, these scholars referred to the book of Deuteronomy as Deuteronomy because of two Greek words. One of them is deuteros and the other is nomos . The word deuteros means “second,” and nomos means “law.” Actually the book of Deuteronomy is, as we have suggested to you, the repetition of the law. We have suggested to you that it is the repetition of the law not with the idea of adding something new, but with the idea of emphasizing and amplifying the testimony of the law as God actually gave it.

Analysis of Deuteronomy

We have emphasized to you that every book in the Bible has an outline placed there by the Holy Spirit. You might make an outline of the Scripture or I might make an outline of the Scripture and they are helpful and good, but they are actually not always accurate as far as the Scripture is concerned. Every book has an outline placed there by the Holy Spirit and this particular one is the one we have suggested to you. Deuteronomy is composed of three discourses delivered by Moses. It has a song, a blessing, and an obituary. The first discourse that Moses delivered is related to a review of past failures, a review of the failures the children of Israel made while they were in the wilderness. That comprises chapters 1-4 of the book of Deuteronomy. Then the second discourse comprises chapters 5-26, and it represents a repetition of God's law. We are studying at the present time the second discourse which Moses delivered. The third discourse, at which we have not looked, which is found in chapters 27-31, comprises a revelation of the future. It describes what God's plans for the nation of Israel are not only in Moses' day and our day, but even tomorrow, figuratively speaking.

Then there is a song which Moses wrote, which is recorded in chapter 32. This is the song that is known as the Song of Moses . If you are familiar with the book of Revelation, you will recall that the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb of God are going to be sung by you and by me when we gather around the throne of God someday.

Then in chapter 33, there is a blessing which Moses pronounced upon all the tribes of Israel because of their obedience for which he hoped.

Then in chapter 34, there is the obituary of Moses. Of course, the significant thing about this obituary is that it is one that was written before the man even died. This in itself is a significant thing—that a man could write his own obituary even before the time of his death. This is something that we will be thinking about and talking about in detail as the weeks go by.

I mentioned to you that Moses' second discourse is the one in which we are interested at the moment, and it comprises chapters 5-26. We said that it was made up of three divisions. There is the moral law in chapters 5-11. The moral law is what we call the Ten Commandments , the commandments most folk think are related solely to Israel. But we pointed out to you that every commandment in the Old Testament, with the exception of the one concerning the Sabbath day, is repeated in principle in the New Testament as a characteristic of the walk of an individual who is completely controlled by the Holy Spirit.

The second part of this second discourse is the ceremonial law. It begins with chapter 12 and goes through chapter 16, verse 17. The ceremonial law is related to a number of regulations which describe how the children of Israel were particularly God's special people, God's peculiar people, a people for His own possession.

We noticed when we looked at the moral law that there were absolutely no changes in it from the way it was recorded in Exodus, chapter 20. But when we looked at the ceremonial law, we noticed quite a few differences from the way it was recorded in the book of Leviticus and the way it is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Some people see in this a problem. They say, “Well, that is another indication that the Bible is not inspired and you can't depend upon it.” We don't feel that way at all. We feel that the ceremonial law required certain things in the wilderness that the ceremonial law would not require when the children of Israel actually crossed into the promised land.

The judicial law represents the third division of Moses' second discourse. It begins with chapter 16, verse 18, and continues all the way through chapter 26. You will recall that we are in the midst of a discussion of the civil law. As we think about the civil law, you will keep in mind the first thing that we considered is the administrators of that civil law, reminding you that the administration of the law can be no better than the administrators. The administrators numbered four. There were judges on a local and a national basis. Gideon, for example, was a judge during part of this particular time. Then there were kings. We noticed a very interesting thing. Here was Moses and the children of Israel not yet in the promised land, but God laid down certain rules and regulations as to how to select a king.

I want you to be familiar with attacks upon the Word of God, and the critics say that here is an illustration of how the Bible is an edited book. This particular section about kings had to be added by a later hand because there were no kings in the day in which Moses wrote the book. Our answer to that is the inspiration of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is able to look down through the ages, see what is needed and write in the Word of God that particular thing which is needed.

Then there were the priests with which we are familiar because of our study of Leviticus, and then there were the prophets who administered the law, men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc. These administrators of the law were men who had to be above reproach and men who had to emphasize the truth of the law at the risk of their own lives for the administration of the law, we repeat, can be no stronger than the administrators themselves.

The administration of the law, at which we have already begun to look, was related first to the sanctity of human life. This is the portion of the book of Deuteronomy that we are studying at the moment, beginning with chapter 19 and going on through chapter 21. When we speak of the sanctity of human life, you realize we are talking about the sacredness of human life. Human life is sacred to God and that is the reason we learned last week that God set up in Genesis, chapter 9, the regulation concerning capital punishment and emphasized that it should continue through generation after generation.

We emphasize that again because we would like to remind you, as a believer in this age of grace, that you need to know that in which you are getting involved. No well taught Bible-believing Christian ought to get involved in any movement to abolish capital punishment because it is in direct opposition to what the Word of God actually teaches.

In Deuteronomy, chapter 19, we noticed that God instructed the children of Israel to build three more cities of refuge. They had built three on the other side of Jordan. Now they were to build three more when they went into the land. If they were obedient to God, God was going to extend the borders of the land to the Mediterranean Sea; and if He had done that, He instructed them to build three more cities of refuge so that there would be nine cities in all. Those of you who are familiar with your Bibles know that six were all that were ever built.

Cities of Refuge Built for Protection

The cities of refuge were built in order that human life might be protected because in those days, they operated under what was referred to as the law of the avenger . If you killed my brother, then it was my responsibility to kill you, for that was the manner in which the law was discharged. But God, because He was interested in human life, made a distinction in relation to murder. Some murder, then as now, is unpremeditated.

The illustration that was given in Deuteronomy, chapter 19, was: two men might be out in the forest cutting down a tree and the ax head would slip off the axe handle as it was wielded by an individual. It would strike the other man and kill him. He was guilty of murder. He had taken a life. He had been careless. He did not secure the ax head on the handle as he might have. The real thought was that it was was unpremeditated. Something had to be done, so the brother of the man who was killed would immediately set out to kill this man who had been handling the ax. Because he was upset emotionally, in the heat of his passion, he might succeed in killing this man who had unintentionally become a murderer. Then there would be two sad things happen


So God said that He would make provision for that. He said that the man who was guilty of unpremeditated murder should run as fast as he could to the city of refuge. The roads were all smooth. Every crossroad was plainly marked. When he got into the city of refuge, he was safe. The avenger could not touch him.

Someone may say, “Well, that unpremeditated murder was not even punished was it?” Yes, it was in a sense because he had to stay in that city of refuge until the death of the current high priest, which would represent somewhat of a punishment by means of imprisonment.

Keep in mind that the laws of our own land and the laws of most western civilization found their roots in these judicial laws laid down by God. You can recognize how far we are getting away from God's original intent and purpose by the way we are changing laws and ordinances. One of the characteristics of the end time is that laws and ordinances will be changed.

This is not a reference to the fact that our legislatures meet and change laws from time to time, improving them sometimes. That has been done all along. But some of the vital, basic foundation of our jurisprudence is being changed in our day. This indicates in my mind the preparation that is being made for the Antichrist.

We discovered last week that some murder was premeditated. The man lay in wait for an individual and killed him—planned it purposely so. What happened to him? The avenger, the nearest of kin, was supposed to kill him. What could he do? Well, he did what the average murderer would try to do. He tried to get out of the death penalty, so he would run to the city of refuge as fast as he could. If he got inside the city of refuge, the avenger couldn't take him; but the avenger could go to the city in which the dead man lived, and he could say to the elders of the city, “The man that killed my brother is over there in the city of refuge. It was a premeditated thing and something needs to be done about it.” So the elders from the dead man's city could go over to the city of refuge, could speak to the elders there and say, “We want to try this man.” So the elders of the city of refuge would turn the individual over to these elders. There would be a just and equitable trial. If he was found guilty of premeditated murder, he was executed by means of stoning. Of course, everything was done properly, decently and in order. It was not a lynching. It wasn't mob rule. It was a trial by jury.

The Removal of Landmarks

God indicated His interest in human life. He emphasized the sanctity of human life in another way at which we looked. We referred to it as the removal of landmarks . You find it described in chapter 19, verse 14, where God warned that the ancient landmarks should not be removed. When the children of Israel went into the land of promise, the land was apportioned among the tribes, and the tribes apportioned the land among individual families. Somewhat like a surveyor's stake is driven into the ground today, they piled up some stones indicating the boundaries of their particular areas of land. There were men as unprincipled in that day as there are in this day and they would remove these landmarks a foot or two one way or the other. Sometimes they would take them down altogether and claim that the person in question had no right to the land.

You may say, “What has that to do with the sanctity of human life?” The answer is a very simple one. Without the land, there was no life, for remember, God's original society was an agricultural society, and if a man did not have a way of sowing the seed and of reaping a harvest, he had no way of living. That is the reason that God made provision concerning the gleaning of the corners of the field. When we were studying the book of Leviticus, He said, “When you glean your fields, don't glean the corners of them. You leave grain in the corners of the field and even leave a little grain on the stalks on purpose, so that those who have no means of livelihood will be able to go through the fields and glean the grain that is left and thus have enough food to live.”

God's Law Concerning Perjury

There was another thing that we considered in chapter 19 and that was God's laws concerning perjury as they are described in verses 15-19. Again, this is something that is related to the sanctity of human life because a man could die if a man lied and his lie was believed. So the testimony was always very carefully examined and a man's life was never taken on the testimony of one man. It was always in the mouth of two or three witnesses that every word was established.

Respect for Law and Order

The last thing that we said to you last week was related to the respect for law and order that was described in verses 20-21. We said that respect for law and order came because the law was enforced. In verse 20, God said:

Deuteronomy 19:

20And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.
21And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

This does not describe a basic, malicious attitude on the part of individuals. It simply is suggesting that if the law is enforced, then lawlessness with cease. This needs reemphasis in the particular day in which we are living because newspapers are full of lawlessness on every hand, and why? Because the law is not being upheld. I once read how a judge in Chicago released a number of men who had shot a policeman before they could be tested with a nitrate test to prove for sure whether or not they had fired a gun. This is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the law. No wonder there is no respect and no wonder there is the lawlessness we face today. The Bible has the answer, and if men would live according to the Word of God these problems would not arise.

Sanctity of Life Related to War

I would like for us to notice Deuteronomy, chapter 20, because you are going to find in this chapter the sanctity of human life as it is related to war. How is life lost? It is lost through accident, unpremeditated murder, as we suggested. How is life lost? It is lost through premeditated murder. How is life lost? It is lost through wars in which the civilization of our earth has been engaged ever since time began. What are we going to learn from our chapter? That man has a responsibility not to take life needlessly and one of the ways that man can take life needlessly in relation to war is sending men to war unprepared emotionally and physically. This is sin in God's sight.

Let us see why I say that to you. Look at Deuteronomy, chapter 20:

Deuteronomy 20:

1When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
2And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
5And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.
9And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

If you were listening while we read this portion of the Word, you will notice there were several reasons for exemption from war. These exemptions might seem rather strange to us today, and I don't know that we would need to insist on the same kind of exemptions, but the principle is here. These men were exempted on the basis at which we have been looking because if they went into battle with these things on their minds, they would be emotionally and physically unprepared to fight well. Not only would their own lives be endangered, but the lives of the men with whom they fought would be also.

Here again is the basic root for our own principles of warfare in the United States of America, based upon tried and proven principles first laid down by God. Yet, we see in our papers consistently that there should be no reference to God in relation to our military life, in relation to our military training. God said, “When you go out to battle, you Israelites, all young men should participate in the battle, but certain things should be taken into consideration because their lives are at stake. Then he mentioned the matter of a man who had built a house and had not had an opportunity to dedicate it. This was a religious dedication ceremony. This particular exemption would last for a year. The man was exempted from military service for a year, then he had to go to battle whether he felt like it or not.

Verse 6 referred to a man who planted a vineyard and who didn't have the opportunity of eating of it. Now that may sound a little strange to us, but it won't sound so strange if you keep in mind that the first crop that came from the vineyard was dedicated to the Lord and four years later the individual could sell the crop of the vineyard and provide means for his family to live while he was gone into battle. So the need for deferment is not nearly so ridiculous as it might sound


Here is an individual who is called into service. Keep in mind there was not the provisions there are to take care of families and children in our time, and here was his wife and children at home starving to death because there was nobody to take care of the vineyard. His heart wouldn't be in the battle. He couldn't do the best kind of fighting and he would endanger not only his own life, but the lives of others. Do you see the principles that are being laid down and how they ought to be followed?

Verse 7 is related to a man who is betrothed to a wife and had not yet married her. There had been a long period of engagement, according to custom. He had not had the opportunity for the marriage ceremony. Instead of his being taken off to war and leaving his bride-to-be at home perhaps to marry someone else, because betrothal in those days meant a great deal more than engagements mean today, he was to stay at home and he was to marry his wife and live with her a year. Then he was to go off to battle because his heart could not be in the battle if he was thinking about his wife back home.

There is something that we may not like to think about, but we ought to consider, recorded in verses 8-9, concerning the individual who was a fearful individual. If he was afraid, if he was fainthearted, he should go and return home. He wouldn't make a good soldier. Somebody will say, “Well, he ought to fight whether he is scared or not.” God said, “No, because life is at stake here, and we can't have men fighting whose heart is not really in the battle, for their lives may be lost and the lives of men about them.”

We are not dwelling too much on this, and it isn't particularly inspirational. We told you at the beginning that aside from the spiritual allusions we would make, there wouldn't be a great deal of inspiration, that in these days of uncertainty, related to our laws of our own land, it is good to remember that some of the laws that men are fighting to remove from our statute books have their roots right here in God's Word. So before you let yourself become a party to some of these things, recognize that they are contrary to the Word of God.

Peaceful Appeals

The sanctity of human life in relation to war was indicated by another means. I have referred to it in the phrase, peaceful appeals. It is recorded in chapter 20, verses 10-11. Notice the words:

Deuteronomy 20:

10When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
11And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
12And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it:
13And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
14But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

What is God saying here in this portion of the Word of God? “When you go into the land of Canaan, you Israelites, don't take your war machine and batter down every city within sight, kill everybody within eye view. You go to the gates of the city first and say, ‘We are conquering this land. If you want to make peace with us, we would like to make peace, but we are engaged in holy war. If you do not make peace, there is nothing left for us to do but to carry out God's command, even if it means the loss of life'.”

I would suggest to you that this would indicate reason enough for us to make all the peaceful overtures we can as a nation to settle any war. What can be settled around the peace tables ought to be settled around the peace tables because life is precious in the sight of God. If, on the other hand, as we continue to read in verses 12-13, men do not willingly give in and surrender, then the battle must be carried on into the city. But something must be religiously observed and that is, there must be an absence of needless cruelty on the part of the Israelites as they made their advances.

Those of you who are familiar with war, and you who have read any war stories know that for the most part America has been noted for this very fact. She does not pillage. She does not, as a rule, lead in rape and in all manner of needless cruelty toward the inhabitants of the land which she must defeat in the very process of maintaining peace.

But this has not been true of other nations, and many have been the stories of cruelty that nations have suffered because men have not had their roots in Christian heritage as America has had hers.

The Scorched Earth Policy

There is one other thing here in chapter 20 that God forbade because life was precious to Him, and I have called it the scorched earth policy . This is a term we use in our day in relation to warfare. God didn't use that term. We refer to a scorched earth policy when people feel that invaders are coming their way and there is no way to keep them out, and they burn everything in sight so that the conquerors will have nothing to live on. God warned Israel against this sort of thing from a different standpoint. If you will look at verse 19, He said:

Deuteronomy 20:

19When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:
20Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat,[for food] thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

You have all seen pictures of the manner in which war was made in that ancient day of battering rams and various barricades that were built out of logs. God said to the Israelites, “Life is precious. A man's life is measured by the life of a tree.” What did He mean by that? He was talking about a tree that yielded fruit. He said, “Because you are desirous of taking a city, you cut down every tree in sight without regard to whether it is a fruit tree or just an ordinary tree. Do you know what is going to happen? You will be depriving men of food; and if you deprive them of food, you deprive them of life. Life is a sacred thing to Me, and I want you to recognize the sanctity of human life even in relation to such a thing as needless waste in connection with war.”

Most of the things I am saying to you I am just mentioning, hoping, that you will be able to make your own application, trusting that you will be able to recognize the direction in which we are headed as a nation. I am pleading with you to do what you can to stop it. What can you do to stop it? I am going to be perfectly honest with you. I wouldn't want to discourage any of you in any movements you are making. I would not want to discourage any of you in any effort that you put forth to stem the tide. I think that you should do all that you possibly can, but I think you should do it with full recognition that in all probability you will be defeated


There is only one thing that is open to us, one way that is effective and that is the ministry of prayer. If you do not recognize that the trend of our nation is in direct contradiction to the very laws which God laid down in His Word, then you are not awake to what is happening in our land today. If you are not concerned about it, you ought to be concerned about it. You ought to be deeply concerned about it. Do what you can, I repeat, but recognize that if we are approaching the end of the age, all that we can do is plead to God for mercy, build hedges about our own children, and ask God to keep them in the midst of a world that is bent on godlessness by uprooting not only the name of God from various formulas and pledges, but the very basic laws that God laid down, changing them to suit the self-will of man.


I mentioned that we were going to bring you some spiritual lessons and make one or two spiritual allusions because we don't like to discuss something as we have been discussing it and leave you with a few bare facts related to principles. You are not very inspired about that. You need it, but we do want you to have a special blessing as you remember once again God's grace, so I would like to share with you a spiritual lesson which is very evident from chapter 20, the spiritual lesson that comes to our heart from the rules of war. A spiritual lesson from the rules of war? Yes, and the first lesson that comes to our mind is described by the word encouragements plural. I am talking about the war that Paul reminds us of in his letter to the Ephesians in chapter 6. It is a war that all of us are engaged in, a war in which we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, a war in which we wrestle against forces that are far greater than any of us; and it is a good thing to know that when we go into battle such as that that we go not in our own strength and we go not alone, for the words in the first part of chapter 20 are applicable to just such a warfare as that. Notice:

Deuteronomy 20:

1When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them…

Chariots in the day in which Moses was writing were a sign of great strength. When you go out to do war against your spiritual enemy, and you recognize that they are greater than you, have more power than you, don't be afraid. How many of you have been fighting a battle for a loved one—perhaps a child, perhaps a husband, perhaps a wife. How many of you know of such battles that are going on, and how many of you say, “It is just hopeless. The odds are so great there is no way in the world that anything can be done.”? What are you doing? You are yielding to the fear that God warns against here. When you go out to battle and the odds seem against you, don't be afraid. Why not? Look at the last part of verse 1:

Deuteronomy 20:

1…be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

That in itself would be enough. “The Lord thy God is with thee.” He is on your side. You are not fighting a battle all by yourself. But did you notice He added something else? He said, “…which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” As the Israelites were always reminded of their redemption from Egypt as proof of the fact that God is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we can ask or think, we should be reminded of our redemption, our salvation. The greatest thing that could happen to any of us. God saved us—that is the biggest victory. That is the greatest battle that has been won, and if God has saved us, why need we think He can not win any other battle that comes our way?

You have problems with your children. They are not living in the spiritual realm that you would love for them to live in. God saved them, didn't He? If God saved them, He did the greatest thing in the world for them. He fought the greatest battle right then. Whatever particular battle there is right now, God can win that battle too.

Now notice in verse 2:

Deuteronomy 20:

2And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3And shall say unto them,[here is the encouragement] Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

If you listen closely enough, in fact if all the agitation of your heart would cease and you became quiet enough before the Lord, you would find our great high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, saying essentially the same thing to you in relation to your battle. The Lord will fight the battle for you. Don't faint. Don't be full of fear. Let God give you the victory.

Avoid Entanglements

There is something else related to warfare that we need to keep in mind. Not only is there emphasized for us the matter of encouragement in relation to warfare, but there is something else that we should keep in mind and that is the entanglements into which men can get, in which men can become involved that will hinder the kind of battle that needs to be fought.

I think this whole thing can be summed up without going over these things again, without going over the subject of the man who needs to dedicate a house and the man who needs to reap the harvest of a vineyard and the man who needs to marry a wife, and the man who is fainthearted. All of it can be summed up by what you read in II Timothy, chapter 2. Turn there and notice the admonition given by Paul to young Timothy as to the kind of Christian we as individuals ought to be. Notice verses 1-4:

II Timothy 2:

1Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3listen carefully nowThou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Just as certainly as the man in Israel could not successfully go to battle if there were entanglements with which he was involved, if he enlarged his sphere of activity so that he was bogged down by things that kept him from being the kind of soldier he ought to be, you and I, as believers, must avoid entanglements if we are going to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. You know the sad thing I face, today? I see it all around me. Christians who have permitted themselves to become entangled (Listen carefully to what I say.) not entangled with sin or sinful things. There is nothing wrong with building a new house. There is nothing wrong with marrying a wife. There is nothing wrong with planting a vineyard. There is nothing wrong with any of those things or any numbers of others we could name within themselves, but there is something terribly wrong when they become entanglements that hinder us from fighting the battle that God has called us to fight. Yet I think if we are perfectly honest, all of us will have to agree that from time to time we do become entangled—not with the evil, sometimes with the good, forgetting that although all things are lawful for me as a Christian, all things are not expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” said the Apostle Paul, “but I will not be brought under the power of any.”


There are a lot of Christians today who are under the sway and power of a lot of good things, and there is really no need for it.

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