The Sacredness of Little Things, Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 23. We have been discussing an analysis of the book of Deuteronomy that we would like for you to keep fresh in your minds as we talk about this portion of the Word of God together.

Keep in mind that the book of Deuteronomy is composed of three discourses by Moses as the children of Israel were camped along the plains of Moab waiting to go into the promised land. The first discourse, chapters 1-4, represented a review of the past failures of the nation of Israel as they wandered about through the wilderness. The second discourse, which we are studying at the present time, began with chapter 5 and concludes with chapter 26, and has to do with a repetition of God's law. As a matter of fact, it is the second discourse that gives the name to the book of Deuteronomy—God's law given the second time. The third discourse, at which we have not yet looked, beginning with chapter 27 and concluding with chapter 31, represents a revelation of Israel's future, not only a revelation of Israel's future as far as Moses and his generation were concerned, but even as far as we are concerned.

The book includes in chapter 32 what we refer to as The Song of Moses, a song that you and I will be able to sing along with The Song of the Lamb, as we are told in the book of the Revelation. In chapter 33, there is a blessing which Moses pronounces upon each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Those blessings become a prophecy of God's dealing with the individual tribes. Then the unique feature of the book in chapter 34, is referred to as the obituary, which Moses wrote concerning his own death, the manner in which his life would come to an end without his ever seeing the promised land because of one act of disobedience.

As we say that to you, we would like to remind you that we are not speaking, when we speak of one act of disobedience on the part of Moses, of Moses' being unable to go into Heaven. We are speaking of his being denied the privilege of going into the promised land. There is quite a difference in that relationship.

In the second discourse, which we are studying at the present moment, beginning with chapter 5 and going through chapter 26, there is what we refer to as the moral law, in chapters 5-11. This is a reference to the Ten Commandments as we know them more familiarly. In the second portion of this discourse, we have the ceremonial law, which begins with chapter 12 and goes through chapter 16, verse 17. The ceremonial law was related to all the regulations concerned with Israel's worship. Then there is the judicial law included in this second discourse—the judicial law or the civil law, if you want to call it that. It begins with chapter 16, verse 18 and it goes through chapter 26.

Since I have asked you to turn to chapter 23, you realize that we are in the midst of the discussion of this judicial law or civil law. We have been informed a bit, and I trust we have learned that this judicial law is related to a number of things. We have considered it as it is related to the sanctity of human life. Out of these regulations in the book of Deuteronomy have come the laws which our land is fast laying aside concerning capital punishment—a life for a life, a rule that God laid down even in Genesis, chapter 9.

We have looked at the sacredness of little things. God made laws, rules, regulations concerning little things, even things so little as a bird's nest. God says that if you were about to cut down a tree and you found a bird's nest in that tree, don't cut down the tree until you have made provision for the bird. We pointed out to you that our God Who is that interested in little things certainly is vitally interested in us.

Rules for Purity of the Congretation

We want to talk about what we are going to find in Deuteronomy, chapter 23, verses 1-25. We are going to tell you what we are going to find in that chapter because we will not be reading every verse in the chapter for reasons which will be obvious if you take the time to read the entire chapter when you go home. We are going to talk about some rules, some regulations, for the purity of the congregation. Then we are going to talk about some rules and regulations that God gave because of the presence of God in the midst of the nation of Israel. Then we are going to find some other rules and regulations related to what we have termed, personal integrity .

Personal integrity is something that we do not know a lot of in our day. It is something that people have forgotten. That is the reason there is as much vandalism as there is. That is the reason we have to protect property that one time we didn't need to be concerned about at all—because of the integrity of individuals.

If you have already read chapter 23, you may wonder why we are studying this particular portion of the Word of God, why we are studying it as far as getting anything from it, why we are studying it as far as finding anything that would apply to our lives in this Christian generation.

To illustrate what I mean, I am going to ask you to notice verse 1. I trust that you will notice with the spirit it should be noted as you are reading the Word of God. Even though the Word of God is honest enough to speak of the bad with the good, because of such passages of Scripture as this, individuals have even leveled the accusation that the Word of God is an immoral book. It isn't an immoral book. It simply faces facts.

In verse 1, there is a description of an individual who has been mutilated in certain private parts of his flesh. He is not to enter the congregation of the Lord. In verse 2, the word bastard is a word that can be used in an unlovely way and in an unbecoming way, but when the King James Version was translated, it was a respectable word. It simply means “a child who is born because of illegitimate sexual union.” That child shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to its tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord. Then in verse 3, an Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord, even to the tenth generation because, in verse 4:

Deuteronomy 23:

4Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
5Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee.
6Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
7Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.
8The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.

That is as far as we are going to read at the moment, but I ask you of what value are those verses to you? Of what spiritual help are they to you? They ought to be of some spiritual help, and that is why we are asking you to examine with us the reasons which are given in the Word of God for the study of a passage of Scripture like this. The normal reaction of many individuals is, “Well, I couldn't care less who was able to be in the congregation of Israel. What value is it to us to even know about it? Turn in your Bibles, please, to Exodus, chapter 25, and notice verse 4:

Deuteronomy 25:

4Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

You might dismiss that passage of Scripture and say, “Well, this is just a humanitarian regulation. God was interested in the animals.” What Moses was talking about here was a matter of the ox tied to a round stone that goes round and round as the ox moves around. The corn was ground in this fashion. Some men were so thoughtless that they muzzled the ox so that he couldn't even nibble on the grain as he walked around. God said, “Stop that. That isn't right.”

Why did God say that? I repeat that if you are interested in the Word of God, at least from a historical standpoint, you might say that God did that for humanitarian reasons, but is that the only reason for our studying the Old Testament? No. There is a better reason and a deeper reason and that is why I ask you to turn to I Corinthians, chapter 9. In this chapter, you find the Apostle Paul discussing the matter of giving and being very particular. Paul is talking about the way that the congregation paid the preacher. They weren't doing a very good job of it, and because they were not doing a very good job of this, the apostle dealt with them about the matter. Notice verse 8, where the apostle said:

I Corinthians 9:

8Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

You will keep in mind that when Paul uses the word law in this fashion, he is referring to the first five books of the Bible. He is not referring to the Ten Commandments. He may be including them, but he is not referring to them. He is referring to the first five books of the Bible, and so he is saying: “Does not the law, the first five books of the Bible, say the very same thing?” Now, verse 9:

I Corinthians 9:

9For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

There is our verse from Deuteronomy, chapter 25, verse 4. Paul asks, “Does Moses say that?” Paul asks a question very similar to the one that I asked you a few moments ago. He said, “Does God take care for the oxen, or sayeth He it all together for our sakes?” Did God write this down in the Word of God just so the oxen would be taken care of or did He write it down so that we might learn a lesson from it? He answers His own question. Notice verse 10:

I Corinthians 9:

10Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

What is this Paul is saying? Simply that God wrote down this matter related to the oxen and preserved it for us so that when we studied this portion of the Word of God, we would not only be reading about God's interest in the oxen, we would be reading something that would enable us to learn a very real and important lesson. So if you wonder why we spend time in the Old Testament Scripture as we have been often asked, this is the reason. God wrote these things down in the Old Testament that you and I might learn by way of spiritual application precious truths that we need to know.

We said that the first thing that we were going to talk to you about in chapter 23, was the purity of the congregation and the information related to that. In order that we might understand the applications that we will make without re-reading those verses, let me remind you that the Hebrew word for congregation is qahal, and the significant thing about it is that when the Septuagint Version of the Scriptures was made (You recall that is the translation of the Old Testament by seventy-two Greek scholars into Greek language.), the Greek word ekklesia was used for the Hebrew word qahal, meaning that the word congregation and the word church are one and the same thing.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying, “the church in the wilderness,” as the apostle speaks of it, is the same as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a difference. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Body of Christ. The church in the wilderness referred to the nation of Israel when it was in session for the purpose of worship.

There are two things we need to learn relative to the purity of the congregation. One of them is related to the people who are described in these first eight verses. One group of people could not enter into the congregation of Israel because of uncleanness. Another people could not enter in because of their ancestry. Those who could not enter in because of their uncleanness were mutilated from a sexual standpoint. This was what the heathen nations did in relation to their heathen worship, and because God wanted Israel to be a different people, He did not want any kind of uncleanness related to religious worship, lest the individuals of that day would confuse the purity of Judaism with the confusion of the heathen religion of the hour in which Moses lived. If you are familiar with all the idolatrous worship that was carried on in that day, recognizing that much sexual uncleanness was related to that idolatrous worship, you will understand why God was speaking in the manner in which He was.

When we read those first eight verses, you found that there was a second reason that God made a regulation concerning the people who were to enter into the congregation and who were not to enter. That was the people who had ancestry that either was or was not what it ought to be. For example, the Moabites, we learned when we read this chapter, were not permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord. The Egyptians, on the other hand, were permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord—a matter of how you were born.

If we look at it from a purely literal standpoint, it might seem terribly unfair, but you must keep in mind, as you read verse 3, that the Ammonites and the Moabites were descendants of individuals whom God had pronounced ready for judgment. It was just a matter of the sentence being fulfilled.

You may be wondering about the reference to the tenth generation in verse 3. The tenth generation is simply an idiomatic expression which indicates that never would they be able to enter into the congregation of the Lord. That is the why the word forever is included as the very last word in verse 3.

When we speak of the purity of the congregation in the Old Testament, we speak of it in relation to people, but we need to think of it in relation to provisions for its behalf. For example, we say, concerning this testimony here at Abilene Bible Church, that this work is supported by the people of God. Sometimes when we feel led of the Spirit of God to do it, we will mention that if you are unsaved and in our midst and the collection plate passes in front of you, we are not suggesting that you put in an offering. This is the privilege and responsibility of the people of God. God was just as careful in relation to the provision of the material needs of the congregation in the wilderness. Look down at verse 17:

Deuteronomy 23:

17There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a Sodomite of the sons of Israel.
18Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

If you are thinking, you might say, “Why didn't you talk about the whore when you were talking about the people?” The answer is found in the word in the original text for the words whore and sodomite. One of them is in the feminine and that is the word whore , and one of them is in the masculine and that is translated sodomite. It is the same word, but it is a different word than is used for an ordinary prostitute. It is a word which describes the women and men who entered into illicit sexual intercourse for the support of the heathen temple. God said, “My work shall not be supported by any such unclean thing as that.”

For example, in verse 18: “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore or the price of a dog…” He is emphasizing the same thing. Dogs were even used for unclean, immoral, sexual purposes in the connection with heathen temples. God said, “My work is different. My religion is different. My testimony is different. This sort of thing shall not be related to the worship of Jehovah.”

You may be wondering why God would even find it necessary to make suggestions like this. The answer is found in the fact that the nation of Israel had lived in this kind of atmosphere for a long, long time; and when you live in an atmosphere that is not conducive to spiritual growth, before you realize it you have adopted some of the practices and methods that are related to things which are frowned upon by God.

Lessons to be Learned

That leads us to suggest to you some of the lessons that we can learn from this instruction in the book of Deuteronomy concerning the purity of the congregation. The first one comes to our attention in I Corinthians, chapter 5, verses 1-8. I Corinthians, chapter 5, describes the situation in the church at Corinth which was a deplorable situation indeed, and nobody even seemed to be very much concerned about it. Notice verse 1, where we read:

I Corinthians 5:

1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

You will remember from the last lesson that there was a last verse from the last chapter that we considered that dealt with this very thing. When the Scripture speaks of a man's having his father's wife, it means that a man should not marry a woman that had been married to his father—not referring to his own mother, but referring to his stepmother. This sort of thing was going on in the church at Corinth. God called it fornication and said, “It should not be. It is an act of uncleanness that is being tolerated in My congregation, and it should not be tolerated.”

You may be saying in your own mind, “What could be done about this?” What the early church did oftentimes is to withdraw fellowship from such an individual as this and say to him in so many words, “We are not going to have anything more to do with you until you straighten up and fly right.” That is what is meant in verse 7:

I Corinthians 5:

7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

If you are thinking, you probably are ready to say to me, “How could you withdraw fellowship from a person who is not living the way he should?”, and I am ready for you to answer that question in these days of apostasy in which we live because I don't have an answer for it. You are taught in the Word of God not only to withdraw fellowship because of this particular sin, but you are taught in the Word of God to withdraw fellowship from an individual who is walking disorderly. If you read that word in its context, it refers to a man who isn't working and making a living for his family. You are supposed to withdraw fellowship from him, have nothing to do with him.

The reason I say that I am not prepared to say how this church discipline could be exercised in these days of apostasy is that I don't know where it would begin and where it would end. Who would be left for the preacher to preach to? If you wanted to make it even stronger, and you could, where would the preacher go because you might withdraw fellowship from him? You see, we are living in that Laodician age in which Christ is outside the door, and we don't need to expect to exercise the same kind of discipline that was exercised in the early days of the church because it is an utter impossibility.

Mourning to Maintain Purity

You may be saying, “If that is true, why are you even talking to us about it? Why are you even thinking about it? What can we do?” Paul tells these folk what they could have done because their attitude was somewhat the same. “What can we do?”, they asked. Look at verse 2:

II Corinthians 5:

2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

In these days of apostasy, instead of setting ourselves up as judges of others and worrying about trying to visit church discipline, the exercise of which I have never heard of one case that has not boomeranged in some fashion in this day of apostasy, why are we not mourning? This word mourning here involves the idea of taking this person to the Lord in prayer and saying, “Lord, deal with this person. Bring him to the end of the way.” Bring him to the end of the rope, so to speak. Bring him to wits end corner.

That is how to maintain the purity of the congregation. For example, in the fellowship here at Abilene Bible Church, I don't know of anybody who is living in a manner that he should not be living in and yet is attending every service and is active in everything that is being done. Maybe you know somebody like that. I am not suggesting there isn't anybody like that; I am simply suggesting that I am not capable of calling anybody's name because I don't know of anybody who is perfect enough, who is living every demand of the Scripture in his life, who could begin to say, “Let's discipline this brother. Let's have a backdoor revival. Let's move this brother on out.”

I do know that many times I have observed the laxity in the lives of some of the believers at Abilene Bible Church and have been driven to my knees in prayer in their behalf, asking God to deal with them until they came to a realization of their own need. And, oh, what a joy it is when you know that God has worked. You see the evidence of that and how much better it is for God to do it than for me to do it; for you see, if I were to do it, they could very well say to me, “Who are you to be telling me what to do? I know a lot that is wrong with you.” The fact that I must face, as a sinner saved by grace, is that even if they don't know it, I do. Even if they don't know a lot that is wrong with me, I know a lot that is wrong with me. So all I can do is mourn for folk who are not living the way they ought to live, that the purity of the congregation would be preserved.

Guard Against Walking in the Flesh

Turn to Galatians, chapter 5. You may wonder why I asked you to turn there and read the verses which are presented, but I think you will understand if I explain to you something by way of typology in the Scripture. Did you notice the individuals who were forbidden to enter into the congregation of the Lord in the Old Testament? They were the Ammonites and the Moabites, but particularly the Ammonites. Did you notice why God said the Ammonites were not allowed to enter the congregation? He said, “You Israelites remember how when you were coming out of Egypt, you were tired; you were weary. The Ammonites, instead of helping you, came out to fight you and they killed off all the stragglers, the ones who were at the back end of the line.” In relation to the study of types, you will realize that ammon is a type of the flesh, and you will recognize that the flesh is something with which we as Christians live constantly.

When I think of the flesh, I am not thinking of this hand that you see up here; I am not speaking of this balding head; I'm speaking of the old sin nature. It is with you. The Bible calls it the flesh . The Bible calls it the old man . That old man will always make an effort to get you when you are tired. Did you know that some of the biggest spiritual problems individuals have are related as much to the condition of their physical body as they are to the state of their spiritual life? They are tired; they are weary; they are worn out physically, and the flesh comes to the foreground more often then.

Let me give you an illustration of what I mean. Do you ever get irritated? Do you ever get irritated and speak sharply to your wife, to your husband, to your children? Do you? When do you become irritated the most often? Isn't it when you are tired and weary, when the load is heavy and you feel like you have had just about all you can stand? Isn't it that you wind up by saying, “I have taken all I am going to take.” Why do you say that? You are tired and weary. That is not the reason you say it. The reason you say it is, you are walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit. Just as there was no room for Ammon and Moab in the congregation in Israel, there is no room for the flesh in the assembly of the saints

Oh, it doesn't mean that you are going to be lost if the flesh comes to the foreground, but it does mean that you are going to lose the victory. That is why I ask you to turn to Galatians, chapter 5, and notice verse 16:

Galatians 5:

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Let's keep in mind that the word lust, as it is used here, does not refer exclusively to sexual desire. It refers to the desires of the flesh—what the flesh wants to do instead of the Spirit. You see, it is possible for the flesh to want to do a perfectly legitimate thing as far as the laws of the land are concerned, but not good as far as your spiritual life is concerned. That is why Paul said, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient.” Notice verse 17:

Galatians 5:

17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Did you notice what that verse is saying? That flesh lives inside of you—the old nature—and the Spirit of God. Somebody said to me the other day, “You know, before I really decided I was going to do what the Lord wants me to do, I just didn't have any trouble at all. I decided that the Lord was going to have all of me there was, and I was going to be thoroughly yielded to Him. Everything has gone wrong since then; nothing has been right. I cannot understand it.” I said, “Well, I can understand it. While you were walking in the flesh, there was no problem. Nobody was arguing with the flesh. There was no resistance. He was asleep. You were perfectly comfortable, but when you began to walk at the direction of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within you, the flesh woke up and said, ‘I don't like this,' and then he began to struggle against the Spirit of God.”

I have illustrated this in this fashion before, but I feel impelled to use the illustration again, keeping in mind what I have often said to you, that I use very few illustrations, so when there is one that is effective, I use it. Let's think for a moment of this black book as representing the flesh. Every person born into the world is born into the world with this sin nature inside and that is the way he lives.

That is why that little granddaughter of mine is going to get mad and throw her bottle on the floor the first chance she gets. That is why the first chance she gets, she is going to kick the slat out of the baby bed. She is born with a sin nature that is just as black as this book right here. She is not going to have a whole lot of trouble until she gets old enough to recognize her need of Christ, and we are already praying, as we prayed the day she was born, that as soon as she is able to recognize her need of Christ, she will be saved. I don't want her to live half a minute longer than she needs to without Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to move into her heart as soon as she receives Him as her Savior and you see, there are two people in that heart now—the Savior and the old nature. You can sleep pretty comfortably one person in a single bed, can't you? Two people get in it and it gets a little crowded, and it is not long before you began to move around to just get a little bit more comfortable. That is exactly what happens to the believer.

That is what this verse is talking about—the flesh lusting against the Spirit. The Spirit moves in and He begins to press against the flesh over in the corner. The flesh says, “I don't like that. I want more room. I don't like all this crowded condition.” So he begins to push against the Spirit and the Spirit says, “Now, wait a minute. I moved into this heart for a purpose. You just get back over there in the corner where you belong,” and He shoves him back over. Sometimes they have a real tussle and, of course, you play a large part in the battle because if you decide to walk according to the flesh instead of the Spirit, the flesh steps on top and some people don't even know you are a Christian the way you live because this old nature is so much like an unsaved person that people can't tell the difference.

Then you decide to walk in the Spirit and the Spirit gets on top. You see, the struggle goes on all the time within. Why are we bringing this to your attention? To remind you that just as certainly as there was no room for the Ammonites in the congregation of Israel, there is no room for the flesh in the assembly of the saints, for any assembly that is marked more by the flesh than by the Spirit is going to give evidence of that fact. You draw your own conclusions.

Have a Forgiving Spirit

Turn to Ephesians, chapter 4, and notice another lesson that we can learn. That lesson is related to the Egyptians. What was it we read there in Deuteronomy, chapter 23, about the Egyptians? The Egyptians should be allowed to come in the congregation of the Lord. That seems like a big order to me. When I think about how those Egyptians whipped those Israelites and how they told them to produce more brick and even gather the clay and the straw for the production of the brick. When I think about how cruel they were, I say, “How could God let the Egyptian come in and not let the Ammonite come in?” He said, “Remember you were in Egypt and Joseph was there and you were treated like a brother.” Notice now Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 32, where we read:

Ephesians 4:

32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

The lessons we learn relative to the purity of the congregation is that you and I must learn first to mourn any uncleanness that rears its head in our assembly, to guard ourselves from walking at the direction of the flesh instead of the Spirit, and yet, have such a forgiving spirit that we can forgive anyone who is our brother. Let me ask you this question for purpose of emphasis. Is there some root of bitterness in your heart against some person who is called a believer? If the Israelites didn't have any bitterness in their hearts against the Egyptians, how could you have any bitterness in your heart against any Christian brother, regardless of what they might have done?

The Presence of God

We are not going to have time to look in detail at the rest of the chapter, but we do want to finish the chapter, so you will recall that I told you in the chapter there would be a lesson for us concerning the purity of the congregation and there would be a lesson for us concerning the presence of God. Go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 23. In verses 9-13, you will notice what folk refer to as sanitary regulations. You can read them for yourselves when you have time. The Spirit of God said, “Why should you do this sort of thing? Why should you maintain these rules related to sanitation?” The answer is found in verse 14:

Deuteronomy 23:

14For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

Do you realize what this passage of Scripture is saying? Don't misunderstand what I say, but let me be really frank so that you will get the point. This passage of Scripture says in so many words that if you use the bathroom, you ought to close the door because God's presence is always with you. God is holy and righteous and He ought not to be looking upon any uncleanness in your midst at all. Somebody says, “You mean that God is concerned about whether I close the bathroom door?” No. No, He isn't, but He is concerned about the principle that is involved and just as certainly as the presence of God among the Israelites was an incentive for cleanliness, spiritually and physically, so you and I should recognize that the indwelling Holy Spirit is an incentive for cleanliness in our lives.

Glorify God in your Body

In relation to the lessons to be learned, we have called your attention to Romans, chapter 12, verses 1-2. Notice as we read:

Romans 12:

1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This tells us that our bodies belong to God. Therefore, because they belong to God, we have no right to use them as we would use them of ourselves. The Corinthian believers were forgetting that, and that is the reason we suggested another lesson could be learned from I Corinthians, chapter 6. The apostle talks to these Corinthian believers. Yes, they were Christians, but they were visiting houses of prostitution. And does that sound strange? Do I hear somebody saying, “I don't believe a Christian would do that.”? What you ought to say is, “I don't think a Christian ought to do that.” You see, there is a difference, and the apostle said, “I am so surprised that you, a member of the Body of Christ, would take one of the members of Christ and take it to a house of prostitution.” Paul said, “I just can't grasp how you can do that.” Yet, it was being done.

You see, according to I Corinthians, chapter 12, and this is a figure of speech Paul uses, he says, “We all have a place in the Body of Christ. One of us may be just a finger. One of us may be an eye. Some may be a little toe, some a hip joint. No telling what we are, but God has placed each one of us in the Body of Christ.” He said, “If you, as a Christian, enter into these unclean things, it is the same as taking Christ there.” In concluding his exhortation, he said, “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own. You are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.”

This is one of the greatest verses in the Scripture which encourages young people to stay pure in these days of impurity. In these days when impurity is the popular thing, this passage of Scripture, for a believer, is something that will help him. He will say, “I will not do anything with my body that will not bring glory to God.”

Usually when we talk about these things, we talk about matters of sex, but it might be wise to remember that this body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit should be cared for in such a fashion that it would bring glory to God, too. Some of us are guilty, aren't we, of not caring for it as we ought to?

Just a point in order, the other evening in the Bible Memory Association rally, did everybody care for his body when we went back and back and back to the table for all those good foods? You don't have to answer me. How many pieces of cake did you eat? How many pieces of pie did you eat? You know what I am talking about. Were we glorifying God in the body? There are many ways that we as believers do not glorify God in our body and that is the lesson we need to learn in relation to this portion of the book of Deuteronomy.

Personal Integrity

We said that in this chapter, we would find the matter of personal integrity dealt with. Turn back to Deuteronomy, chapter 23, and notice in verses 19-20, a word about usury. Read it carefully. It doesn't say that you should not lend money for interest. As a matter of fact, you will find God telling the Jews to do it. That is why, during the Middle Ages when they were not allowed to own any land, they became rich bankers because they charged the sojourners, the stranger, usury. But anyone who was his brother, he wasn't supposed to charge any interest. If his brother had a need, he was supposed to meet it. He wasn't suppose to take advantage of his brother. Nobody would know it. This is a matter of personal integrity. Your brother comes to you and says, “Brother, I am in trouble and I have got to have some money.” What is your reaction? “Well, I believe I can let you have that for about eight percent. You know the banks are charging nine, but I'll let you have some for eight.”

I am just suggesting these things for you to think about. I would not attempt to tell you what to do, but I do know that the same Bible says, “Give to him that ask of thee and turn not away.” You might say, “Well, I would be broke if I did that.” How do you know? Have you ever tried it? Seriously, I know that there are qualifications for that passage of Scripture that I have just given you, but I have given it to you to challenge your thinking.

That is why I am not in sympathy with selling of church bonds to build a church. You have any money you don't need that you want to give to the Lord, you ought not to give it to Him and charge Him interest for it. You ought to give it to Him. You say, “I don't have any I can give to the Lord.” Well, all right, then don't, but if you have any you can give to Him, don't charge Him interest for it.

The next thing that is discussed in the chapter is related to vows. You find it described there in verses 21-23. This is a matter of personal integrity. You make a vow to the Lord; nobody knows that you made it really. Nobody knows whether you have kept it, but God does. It is left up to you whether you keep the vow or not, but God said, “If you do vow a vow and you don't keep it, you are treading on very thin ice.” But you don't have to vow if you don't want to. If you read Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, you are even told there that if you make a vow and say, “Lord, I didn't know how hard this vow would be to keep,” that is no excuse. You made the vow.

There is very good room for discussion about whether or not Christians ought to make vows in this age of grace. If you don't want to make vows, you do make promises to the Lord, don't you? The Lord deals with you about something and you say, “Lord, I'm going to lay that thing aside for your glory.” That is a promise; that is a vow, so it would be pretty difficult to say there is no such thing as vows in this age in which we live.

The last thing that is mentioned in the chapter is related to the word greed . This is a matter of personal integrity. What did He say here in chapter 23? He said, in verse 24:

Deuteronomy 23:

24When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.

You see where the greed comes in? You are walking through a vineyard and you want to take a bunch of grapes and eat them. God said, “Go ahead. That's all right.” As a matter of fact, further on in this portion of the Word, you will find that God tells the man who owns the vineyard to leave some of the grapes on the vine so that if anybody wants to do that, they can do it. But He said, “Don't take a basket with you when you go into that vineyard. It is one thing to eat a bunch of grapes as you go through, but don't take a basket and fill it up. That is wrong.” It is one thing to take one watermelon as you go through a watermelon patch and another thing to back the truck up to the gate and take all there is in the patch. That is what God is talking about here. Look at verse 25:

Deuteronomy 23:

25When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.

“You're walking through your neighbor's corn field and you want to take an ear of corn and shuck it and eat it, go ahead; but don't you take a sickle and cut down a whole lot to take home with you.” You see, this is a matter of personal integrity because nobody would know this unless you got caught.

I have a question for you. In what condition is your personal integrity? Have you been filling the basket when you ought to be filling your mouth only? Have you been taking a sickle and cutting down the corn, when all you ought to have been doing is eating an ear or two as you pass through? How is your personal integrity? You see, nobody knows about this but you and God. You made some vows you haven't kept. Nobody knows it, but God does. In what condition is your personal integrity? Are you dependable from God's standpoint? Ask God to minister that question to your hearts.


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