Throughout Scripture, God’s people are told to remember. This may seem odd if you look closely at when God says it. For instance, all throughout the book of Deuteronomy—Moses’ farewell sermon to Israel—God tells his people to remember what just happened. If you had been in slavery for 400 years, were miraculously rescued by walking through the dry floor of an ocean, and had seen bread fall out of heaven and water flowing out of rocks, do you think you’d forget it?
Apparently, yes. Israel’s times of spiritual wandering were always marked by spiritual amnesia. Not that they literally couldn’t recall what God had done, but that his mighty works weren’t prominent in their minds. The same is true of us.
Here are three truths that Christians must always fight to remember.
1. Remember the slavery of sin.
In Deuteronomy 6:12, Moses says, “Take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Some of us need to stop and think about the house of sin that we used to call home—a house that most of us were perfectly comfortable in. Do you remember where you were without God? Do you remember what your life was like? Wasn’t it bondage, stress, striving, and emptiness? There was no healing there, no rest, no enduring satisfaction. Do you really want to go back there?
For others of you, God graciously protected you in your youth. Perhaps you grew up in a Christian home, and you don’t have a dramatic conversion story, where God plucked you up out of a life scarred by sin. Praise God. You will have plenty of time in your life to see the slavery of sin play out, so thank him for that grace. And look to the future with your eyes open, knowing that the house of sin is always a house of slavery. Don’t go back.
2. Remember that you’ve been delivered.
Look at Deuteronomy 6:12 again: “Take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Don’t just remember that you were enslaved; remember that God did something about it! God delivered you, not only taking you out of bondage, but taking the spirit of bondage out of you.
Imagine an infant boy with an abusive father. The dad never tells the boy he loves him, but calls him names and demeans him instead. The boy never has enough food, so he pockets snacks from his friends at school. He doesn’t have a bed to sleep on, so he sleeps on the floor. This goes on for years, until one day, the abuse gets so bad that the boy is taken away.
He is then adopted by a good family, with a good father. This dad cleans up his son, buys him clothes, gives him a bed and toys and plenty to eat. And he speaks life into his son: “I’m proud of you,” “I love you,” “I’ll never hurt you.” But how does the son respond? He keeps borrowing food from his friends at school. He ignores the bed and keeps sleeping on the floor. He winces when his dad comes in the room. Why? Because he can’t see that his new family is one of love and not fear, acceptance and not condemnation.
This is the story of every Christian. Either we don’t remember or we don’t truly believe that the cloud of condemnation is gone. We find God’s love hard to believe, so we keep sleeping on the floor and stealing food when God offers us a bed and a meal. We keep expecting the hammer of judgment for our past mistakes, but God says, “I don’t remember your sins anymore. I’ve put them away. Look! The old is gone, and the new has come.”
If you are in Christ, you are a new person, adopted into a new family, with a new Father. You are a cherished son or daughter who will never be forgotten. Now live that way.
3. Remember the graciousness of the God who saved you.
There’s an interesting line in Deuteronomy 6:20-24 where Moses anticipates a conversation between a father and son. “Why are we supposed to obey all this stuff, dad?” the son will ask. And if I were writing the answer, I’d probably talk about the benefits of God’s law. Sex within marriage leads to a happier life. Doctors have shown that resting one day a week is good for our health. But that’s not what Moses says.
Moses hears the question and answers, When your son asks why we obey, you tell him: we obey our God because our God is gracious and good, because we were slaves and now we’re free.
Why do we obey, church? Not because obeying leads to good results. Not because our lives will be happier and longer and more fulfilling. No, we obey because the God who gave us these rules cared so much for us that he gave up his own life for us. Israel had seen God deliver them at the Red Sea. But we’ve seen God deliver us on Mt. Calvary. All of our trust in God’s goodness and in his laws is founded in what we saw him do at the cross.
How can I trust God when I don’t understand what he’s doing? By remembering Jesus’ sacrifice for me on the cross. If Jesus didn’t leave me when he was hanging there, when I was his enemy and wanted him to die, then surely he won’t leave me now that I’m his child.
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.