"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, March 13, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 13: “SHUN IDOLATRY OR SHUN GOD?” by Albert Lopez, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: To shun something is to avoid or reject someone or something. To steer clear of; to forsake or abandon.

That word may not be a word that you or I use very often but it was very important for the children of Israel to hear and understand what it meant, who said it, why He said it as well as what would happen if you listened to this command/warning or what would happen if you didn’t listen to it. Through Moses God told His people how dangerous idolatry is and what the consequences of partaking in it are. God is also going to instruct on what to do to shun idolatry.

We may say that we don’t participate in idolatry but if we are honest with ourselves, we are as guilty at times and perhaps more so than the children of Israel were of Idolatry and shunning God’s voice and commands. As we have preached before, putting anything or anyone before God and giving it more value than God is by definition, idolatry. Giving our time, energy, and resources to that something is taking away from what He deserves from us. Not reading God’s Word and not having a prayer life and possibly even not being interested in the things of God; are good indications that there is some danger of idolatry in one’s life. Moses discussed three ways in which temptation to idolatry was likely to come to Israel:

1.Through a false prophet (Verse 1-5)

2. Through a family member (Verse 6-11)

3. Through apostates in some Canaanite city (Verse 12-18)

Although you might think that this wouldn’t happen today. Think about the fact that there are still false prophets, we all have families who sometimes influence us and we know people who we love and value their opinion so we must be careful how we walk.

Moses said God forbids His people to involve themselves or partake in Canaanite worship. It could be understood that curiosity can motivate the temptation to ask about or contemplate other types of worship not commanded by the one true God.
Lesson: “We don’t have to experience sin to learn how deadly it is”
“When the LORD your God cuts off from you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and live in their land, 30 be careful that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from your presence, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 You shall not behave this way toward the LORD your God, because every abominable act which the LORD hates, they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire for their gods.
1 "If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 "and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -which you have not known-'and let us serve them,' 3 "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 "You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 "But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst


IF THERE ARISES AMONG YOU: This refers to a fellow Israelite. Being the chosen people did not guarantee that no one would ever violate the covenant.

Which covenant you ask?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.

If we think back, we can use Aaron who was the High Priest as an example; how he was guilty of leading the people of God into idolatry, worshiping other gods.

This is why sound doctrine is so important:

Although it is important; sadly, many who called themselves Christians will not find the word of God sufficient. Here in Deuteronomy, we are reading in detail where what we would call a “Prophet of God” gives you a word of some future event, or performs this and that sign or miracle.

Not only do they tell you but this thing they are talking about is supposedly of great benefit and blessing to you. How would you react? As human beings, because apart from Christ, we not only want our best life now but we live for it; we can easily fall for what Deuteronomy describes as a false prophet and what they will do and accomplish.

The Bible tells us that in the last days people will not endure sound doctrine: After Paul exhorts pastor Timothy to preach the word with all care and diligence; he tells him why:
2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Jesus himself said that many false prophets would rise among you (MATT 24:11)


“The sign or the wonder comes true”

so then they must not be a false prophet, right? Wrong! The genuineness of prophets and dreamers cannot be determined by their ability to perform a sign or wonder. Instead, we must look at their commitment to the Lord and their faithfulness in proclaiming the truth of His word.

The message must validate the works or signs and wonders and not the other way around: that the signs and wonders validate the message.

A prophet or a dreamer’s prediction may come true, but if his message contradicted God’s commands, the people were to trust God and His Word rather than such experience.

The real test is, Does that person truly honor God?

The faithful and true prophet spoke in God’s name and gave only God’s message for God’s glory and for the good of God’s people (DEUT 4:2; JER 26:2).

A miracle is no proof of God’s involvement. Let’s think back to Exodus: Pharaoh’s magicians reproduced some of God’s signs and plagues (EXOD 7:11-12) and false prophets will counterfeit signs and wonders in the future and deceive many (MATT 24:11, 24).
8Then that lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will eliminate with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not accept the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence [strong delusion] so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness.
VERSE 2 cont’d:

“Let us go after other gods…and let us serve them”

The temptation was to renounce allegiance to the Lord and go after other gods. This apostasy would be worshipping and serving these false gods: a direct contradiction and violation the first of the ten commandments!

Why would a prophet deliver a true message followed by an invitation to worship false gods? For the same reason formerly orthodox religious leaders in the Church will abandon their calling and get involved in cults or even organize their own cults or followings: Pride, the desire to have such, to exercise authority over people, and the desire to make money.

Listen: The Israelites knew that God’s law prohibited the worship of idols, but there are always unstable people who will blindly follow a “successful religious leader” without testing their decision by God’s truth.


“The Lord your God is testing you”

Does God test people and their motives? The answer is yes. God in his sovereignty allowed the false prophets to entice His people to apostasy/idolatry, to test the true disposition of their hearts. We see this in the New Testament as well regarding why God allows heresies (1 COR 11:19).

Let us remember what Moses revealed to the people regarding the testing of their hearts:
2 And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, in order to humble you, putting you to the test, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 And He humbled you and let you go hungry and fed you with the manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, in order to make you [a]understand that man shall not live on bread alone, but man shall live on everything that comes out of the mouth of the LORD.
While the temptation was dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love for God and obedience to His commandments.

In the New Testament after Paul gives us a summary of the events that we read about in Exodus and are re-reading he says this:
1 CORINTHIANS 10:13-14
13 No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
When you flee from idolatry you are shunning it, which is what God was commanding them and is commanding us! As we read, God will give you a way out and that is by turning from Idolatry and turning to Him and his power!


"You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

We have a series of instructions but not just instructions; these are a list of instructions to follow for God’s people to shun idolatry and not shun God.

Here is the list and something about each one to think about:

To follow - Just like the Israelites we have a choice, follow God, or follow false gods

To fear him - We can respect and reverence God as that is his due or we can fear man and follow man’s example

To keep His commandments - following is backed up through obedience. Think about this, although the Israelites were being led by God, not all of them had a heart for God and they followed what they thought was right in their own eyes.

Jesus said: If you love me, You will keep my commandments (JOHN 14:15,21).

He is saying nothing different than what we are reading about Moses commanding them You shall keep His commandments!

To listen to His voice - In the Gospel’s we are told by God, “This is my beloved Son hear him” (MATT 17:5). Also, Jesus said: My sheep hear my voice and they follow me because they know my voice (JOHN 10:3-4,16,27). Do you know the Good Shepherd’s voice? And if you do; do you follow Him because you know his voice?

To serve Him - God’s people served Him in different ways. They built a tabernacle, they gave of their substance so that tabernacle could be built, they offered sacrifices and brought different offerings to God. Connected to listening to his voice; through obedience they served God.

We are the body of Christ and we also serve God through our offerings as well as our time, our energy, and our love towards one another. Our service to God trickles down because you will find that as you serve God; you also serve His people.

To cling to Him- I want to take you back a couple chapters:
You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. 21 He is your glory and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.
We find an example of why the people were to cling to and fear the Lord: because of what verse 21 says. And then He reminds them, You were not a nation but now you are as numerous as the stars and you will be a Nation. For that and many other reasons cling to Him.

Church, I know we can Amen that He is our glory, He is our God, He has done great and awesome things; starting with saving your soul! So, cling to Him!!


"But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”

To eliminate is to purge or “to put away the evil from among you”.

The purpose of this severe penalty (death) was not only the punishment of the evildoer, but also the preservation of the community.

Just as a surgeon removes cancerous tissue from a patient’s body to keep it from spreading, so the local body of believers (the church) must experience surgery, no matter how painful, to maintain the spiritual health of the church.

Paul must have had this text in mind when he gave a similar command to the Corinthian church, speaking of sexual immorality and discipline in the church:

But those who are outside, God judges.


I want to remind us of an example that shows us how one man saw an enemy within and eliminated it. Phineas who was Aaron’s grandson whose attitude was: This is not happening in the Lord’s house!!
NUMBERS 25:6-8
6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.
Phineas went after the couple once he recognized what he was seeing; he took a deadly weapon with the intention to kill. You might see this and say he is killing people, Yes and no. He is killing the people who knowingly are rebelling against a Holy God and on top of that want to defile the Lord’s camp.

Are we like Phineas in the way we deal with our sin?
Do we identify that it is invading and trying to take us captive and defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit and go to war with it with the end goal to kill it?

Or do we do what these two did and invite it into the Lord’s camp and parade it so everyone can see it, because we are not worried about it; we don’t want to kick it out or even worse; kill it?
If we are not at war with our sin and killing the flesh, we are no different than these two that were rewarded with the payment for sin; which is death!

Sonny showed us in DEUTERONOMY 12; How that anything from anywhere at any time at once must be destroyed if it tries to exalt itself above God. Also, if it does not honor God, ultimately that false god can and will destroy you if you don’t turn to the one true God Who has the power to not destroy you, but instead transform your mind as He has your heart, so you will not be inclined to go after any other God.

Also understand, God WILL chasten and discipline a disobedient child that He loves enough to correct – harshly if necessary!

6 "If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, 7 "of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, 8 "you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; 9 "but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 "And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11 "So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.

VERSE 6: “Your brother…friend”:

The temptation to idolatry might also come from a member of the immediate family or from an intimate friend. While the temptation from the false prophet would be made openly based on a sign or wonder, this temptation would be made secretly and would be based upon the intimacy of a relationship.

Speaking of friends, we talked to the boys at the Youth Bible Study about choosing the right friends wisely. We explained how it is wise to choose your friends and not have them chose you. Why?

Because as we can all agree we are imitators by nature. Our friends will have an influence on us or we will have an influence on them. As we are reading, they can get you to do wrong and evil things by going in the wrong direction or the path of the wicked as the Bible calls it.

Moses was warning that new generation, just like we are warning today’s new generation. We are also warning the body of Christ; His Church. Shun idolatry starting with yourself, don’t’ buy into the selfie this and “Like” my picture of my…. fill in the blank or follow me.

That will only leave you empty because the foundation is Self and we were not made in the image of Self we were made in the image of God. We are as Paul said. To be imitators not of self but of Christ. He is the ultimate goal; He is the ultimate brother or Friend. He and only He will lead you into eternal life with Him because He will be your All in all!!


“Stone Him to death” The convicting witness cast the first stone. The fact that the accuser was to throw the first stone would make that person give strong consideration of the accusation and make sure it was so and not just done out of vengeance or wrong motives.

A list of crimes that would be deserving of Death Penalty:

Premeditated Murder, Kidnapping, Striking or Cursing Parents, Magic and Divination, Bestiality, Sacrificing to False Gods, Profaning the Sabbath, Offering Human Sacrifice, Adultery, Incest, Homosexuality, Blasphemy, False Prophecy, Incorrigible Rebelliousness, Fornication, Rape of Betrothed Virgin.

Love of family and friends must not take precedence over devotion to God.

LUKE 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Hate? – that is, a comparatively lesser love. Jesus was calling His disciples as he also calls us to cultivate such devotion to Him that their attachment to everyone and everything else - including their own lives - would seem like hatred.

12 "If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, 13 'Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods"' -which you have not known- 14 "then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, 15 "you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword-utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock, with the edge of the sword. 16 "And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. 17 "So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, 18 "because you have listened to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God.


'Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods"' -which you have not known”

Worthless men: Literally sons of Belial (“worthlessness in quality or substance”) Belial is used of Satan. Being then “a son of Belial” describes parentage: It is a way to describe evil, worthless, or wicked men that take after their father, Satan.

Moses discussed three ways in which temptation to idolatry was likely to come to Israel. By false prophets, family/wife, brother/friend and lastly apostasy.

Worthless men who turn away from the truth. This is when an entire city had been taken over by worthless men enticing the inhabitants or the people to idolatry.


"So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers”

Idolatry as we have read can come by means of different ways and shapes. What it will ultimately end up bringing is the just wrath and anger of the Lord which consumes and destroys all that is not good, holy and righteous (DEUT 4:24; 9:3; HEB 12:29).

So, in order for that not to happen; the people of God needed to listen and obey the first part:

Nothing at all from what is designated for destruction is to cling to your hand: Destroy everything that exalts itself and tries to sit on the throne which only should and does belong to God. The one true God revealed as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

There are things that will entice you and tempt you just like we are reading about to betray your King and go after another Kingdom; mainly your own kingdom!! However, we are to war against that temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of God’s Word.


Listen to the voice of the Lord your God……Doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God:

Doing what’s right in your own eyes - that comes easy to most people; now doing what is right in God’s eyes, that is a whole different story. The world says do what feels right, “you do you and I’ll do me”. Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (PHIL 3:12). Christ Himself, Who is God said: “whoever loses his life for my sake will gain it but whoever gains his life will lose it” (MATT 10:39; 16:25).

We can conclude that the people had a choice to listen to the voice of the false prophet, the family (which includes wife, brother, or friend) or they were tempted to listen to the apostate; someone who probably said something that would be equal to saying, “I have tried the Only Way, the Straight and Narrow but now I want to venture out and try all the broad ways.”

The Bible shows us that the wicked Kings of Israel did what was right in their own eyes and shun God and His ways. Let us not shun God, church; instead of clinging to things that have no eternal value let us cling to the One who values YOU so much He gave His life for you; so, in turn you will not live for yourself anymore but live for the One Who has promised to live through you in a powerful way as you learn to surrender to Him more and more. This way, you and I will shun idolatry and not God.

For more on this, check out the TTUF article: BECOMING CHRIST-LIKE or CORRUPTED!

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