Choosing the Path of Life Over the Path of Death

A sermon idea based on Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NRSV

[15] See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. [16] If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. [17] But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, [18] I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. [19] I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, [20] loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the LORD swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Every day, we have both the freedom and the power to make choices that contribute to living, thriving, and flourishing instead of choices that lead to death, destruction, and decay.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

This passage is the closing argument of the Pentateuch in which the writer appeals to heaven and earth as witnesses that the law has been clearly laid out. The choices are plain, and there are two doors before us.

Door #1: Choose life and flourishing by living within the guardrails God has revealed for his people.

Remember that the entire collection of the Torah was the record of how God was revealing himself to a people freed from slavery on their way into the promised land. They took their freedom seriously and needed to understand that freedom itself is a heavy responsibility.

Door #2: Choose death and destruction by rebelling against God and going your own way instead.

Because God is love, he grants us freedom, even if it means watching us walk away from him and choose to live according to our own view of the world. But he clearly delineates the consequences of our rebellious choices. Things always get worse and our suffering escalates when we push God out of our lives and play by our own homemade rules.

It’s important to remember that these verses are not to be understood as universal guarantees of the outcome of all choices. Sometimes people get away with sin and sometimes those who walk within the guardrails still suffer.

But there is a principle at work that is generally true. Obedience generally leads to blessing and disobedience generally leads to decaying circumstances.

It’s also important to note that the choice between life and death isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a decision we make on a daily basis. Every choice sets up the next. We don’t merely perform an action, we choose an arc. We put our lives on a trajectory one way or another when we decide each day whether we will walk in the wisdom of what God has revealed or go it on our own in pursuit of the temporal over the eternal.

Andy Stanley addresses this topic of trajectory really well in his book, The Principle of the Path.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Look at the choices you’ve been making lately and evaluate whether they are sending you along the path toward flourishing or the path toward destructiveness. Realize you are free to make better choices and start making wiser decisions today in light of God’s revealed Word.

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About the Cover Art: Photo by Jared Evans on Unsplash 

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