Put Away Evil

The book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. God gave them instruction, through Moses, on how they were to obey His commandments and how they were to conduct themselves in the new land they were about to enter.

This new land was occupied by pagans, who never knew nor cared about God's laws. One of the most important things Moses instructed them, over and over again, was to put evil away from themselves. This was vitally important, because allowing just a little evil eventually corrupts the whole community. This was because, as the Apostle Paul wrote “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) We see as we go through the rest of the Old Testament that over and over the Israelites were corrupted by allowing a little bit of evil to remain. Samson was blinded and lost his life, and Saul lost his kingship and his kingdom, all because they accepted a little bit of evil.

God intended for the Israelites to be holy, set apart from other nations and an example to them. The only way they could do that was to obey God's commands and refrain from imitating the evil that was all around them. We see Moses warning the people against false prophets, worshiping other gods, sexual immorality, and much more. Look at the warnings he gave them to “put away the evil” from among them:

1. False prophets turning people away from God: “ And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” (13:5)

2. Worshiping other gods: “The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.” (17:7)

3. Breaking the laws, not obeying either the priest not the judge: “And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.” (17:12)

4. Lying, giving false witness: “Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.” (19:19)

5. Stubborn and rebellious child: “And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” (21:21)

6. Sexual promiscuity of a woman: “Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” (22:21)

7. Adultery – man and woman: “If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.” (22:22)

8. Rape, in city, where woman did not cry out: “Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” (22:24)

9. Selling Humans: “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.” (24:7)

Many people are bored with the Old Testament, and think it has no bearing on our lives today. However, the lessons we learn from the Old Testament are timeless and true. These commandments to put the evil away from them were for their protection, to keep them from doing evil themselves.

Today, while we may not actually put someone to death for these things, they are still pretty pertinent to our lives. There are so many false prophets today, leading people astray with their feel good messages, “believe it and receive it” promises, and telling them they should “live their best life now”. So many are following false gods today, even many who claim to be Christians follow a god they believe will allow them to do whatever they want or whatever makes them happy.

These commandments cover some of the most damaging evils to civil society. Lies destroy people's lives. There really is no such thing as a “little white lie”, all lies are damaging. And one lies almost always leads to others. Sexual sins destroy marriages and families, which God made to be the backbone of any society. Human trafficking and slavery still go on in our world today, destroying people and their families. And stubborn, rebellious, disobedient children usually grown up into stubborn, rebellious adults. Our schools are full of them – and so are our prisons and jails. There is no respect for other people, no respect for our laws and our courts, no respect for our churches or our church leaders.

The Old Testament did not become obsolete when Jesus came. Remember, Jesus said “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17) The Bible tells us that what once was is what will be, and that there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclessiastes 1:9) Or as the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Human nature has always been prone to evil, and we see it all around us. Today, every kind of sexual immorality thrives: no one even tries to hide it anymore. There is no shame. We see the increase in lawlessness and rebelliousness all around us.

The only way we can live a Godly life is to diligently put away evil from our lives, both individually and as a community. We must daily, or even hourly, make the choice to follow Jesus, or follow the world. We have to speak up against the evils around us, even if it makes us social pariahs. We have to fear God and seek his approval, rather than fear people and seek their approval. We have to get back to where obeying God's word is the most important priority in our lives, both for us, and for our children. If we don't model Godliness for them, who will? The world certainly will not. We must put God first, and do everything we can to put evil away from us and our families.

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