Thou Shall Not Learn
Deuteronomy 18:9 "When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations."
As you come to the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins to wrap up his recount of the law to the nation of Israel. In just a few short chapters (Deuteronomy 28), the blessings and cursings will be announced as Israel has been given this covenant with God. The 1st generation that came out of Egypt were not allowed to enter into the promised land because of their unbelief. Now this new generation needed to have the law repeated to them so they would know what God expected from them as His chosen people. God gives us a wonderful truth in this passage. Though spoken to the children of Israel, this truth has tremendous application for you and I today. The phrase is, “thou shall not learn.”
It is interesting that most of our early adult life is consumed with learning. We spend 12 years in a classroom environment learning about all kinds of things. Many after those twelve years then choose another four years of learning in a specified field of study; whether it is vocational or perhaps a broad area of study. There are even some that will spend another two to three years moving toward advanced training in those areas (this is not even counting the extended study of doctors, lawyers, etc...).
God in this one verse gives us such valuable advice but unfortunately oftentimes we overlook this simple truth. You and I would do well not to learn and “do after the abominations of” this world. The danger that Israel faced was perpetuated by the influence of the world around them. How can you and I guard against not learning the ways of the world? There are several biblical keys to success that we find in God’s Word.
1. Understand that the World’s ways are at enmity with God.
Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
There was a reason that God commanded the children of Israel to clean house when they arrived in the promised land. God knew that the worldly nations would be snares to His chosen people.
Joshua 23:13 shows us the horrible result of Israel’s disobedience in this matter, “Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
Because the children of Israel failed to recognize that the world’s ways are at enmity with God, they were pulled in the wrong direction.
2. Live in the World but not of the World.
As a child of God, the Bible tells us that we are not of this world, but we are certainly in it. God has not given us the same orders that the children of Israel were given concerning the nations in the promised land. The children of Israel were told to destroy the wicked nations that were inhabiting that land at the time. In our dispensation however, the Lord has not given us the same charge. We have been commanded to be biblically separated from this World.
Notice what our Lord and Savior prayed for His disciples in John 17: 13-15.
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
If the Lord had prayed to take “them” out of the world, where would we be today? It is because of them that we were given the Gospel! Likewise, you and I have been left in this world to give the Gospel to others. In order for us to be effective in our Soul-Winning efforts we will have to be in this world, but not of this world. Look at the biblical admonition that is given to us.
2 Corinthians 6: 14-18 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
3. Love not the things that are in this World.
1 John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
We start ‘learning’ the ways of the world when our affections move away from God to the world. One of the biggest snares the world offers the Christian today is a desire for temporal things: Materialism. Our eyes become fixed on stuff rather than our Savior. The one snared in materialism never has enough and is always seeking for more. This cycle always leads to temporary joy but then turns into disappointment. Why? Simply because the temporal things of this world will never fill the void of our need for intimacy with God.
John 15:19 “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
4. Guard the gates whereby the World enters in.
We did not learn to be sinners, but rather are sinners by birth and by practice (Romans 5:12). The prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) desires to fan the flames of our fallen nature by helping you learn to do more wickedly.
1 John 2: 15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
These gates: the ear-gate, the eye-gate, the touch-gate etc… must be guarded at all times. A wise and discerning Christian will understand that there is an constant assault on these gates by the enemy.
5. Learn the ways of God by renewing your mind daily.
Moses greatest cry to God was that he might learn His ways.
Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.”
Paul gives us this same principle in Romans chapter 12, “I 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. And 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.”
How can we be renewed in our minds so that we might not be conformed to this world? We are renewed in our minds daily by placing into our minds the things of God. Instead allowing our gates to be infiltrated with the things of the world, we place the Word of God before our eyes and we allow the Word of God to enter into our ears. To renew our minds, we spend time communing with God in prayer and surround ourselves with good things, not the things of this world. You see the old saying, “You are what you eat” could be perhaps changed to this: “You will learn what you allow in!”
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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