Continuing with the Ten Commandments theme, chapter 13 deals with the problem with idols, the second commandment.
Deuteronomy continues the directions about worship, instructing them to worship only God alone, no matter who or what tries to draw them away. This challenges normal objects of trust. It doesn’t matter if the craziest miracle or the most trusted friend (the empirical and relational) should be the source of doubt. They should never turn away from the God who delivered them. Compare this with Paul’s exhortation about those who would preach other gospel in Galatians 1:6-10. It doesn’t matter if an angel should come out of heaven and preach another gospel, don’t trust it.
Deuteronomy goes a step further and instructs total destruction of those who try to pull you away–even to the point of destroying whole cities. In a non theocratic world this is not applicable, but it is on the church and personal level. Excommunication and personal cut-off might be necessary, at least in terms of the influence that another has on one’s life. This is not to the destruction of that person, but the removal of their ability to sway. It’s “purging the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:5)
Nevertheless, it should be understood that this is not in an attempt to separate from others because of their sin, but because they are attempting to pull us away from the one who can forgive our sins. We who are thirsty do not separate from the dehydrated, but from those who would keep us away from the well. Consider this in light of the woman coming to Jesus to anoint him. Those who are justified are those who cling to Jesus, and those who are not are those who would make themselves holy by casting out sinners.
Illustrations to Consider (Running List)
- Mary Magdalene by George Herbert
Related Catechism Questions
109. What is grace? (pg. 53)
Grace is God’s undeserved gift of his love, mercy, and help, which he freely offers to us who, because of our sin, deserve only condemnation. (Genesis 50:15–21; Psalm 106; Joel 2:12–13; Luke 7:36–50; Romans 5:15–21; Ephesians 2:4–9; Hebrews 4:14–16)
343. How is false witness given in respect to the teaching of the Church? (pg. 109)
All false or misleading teaching concerning the Christian faith bears false witness against the truth of God’s Word and abuses the authority given by Christ to his Body. (Deuteronomy 13; Matthew 24:3–14; 2 Peter 2:1–3; 1 John 2:18–27)