Lord's Day Evening Meditations September 21, 2003

Deuteronomy 20:1-9

Privilege and Responsibility

Responsibility is something that many people in the world do not want to take. They try to pass it off on someone else. For us who are saved, we have so many blessings, and are given such a privileged place, that we can't just pass our responsibility on to some else. There are types of this in the Old Testament. Read Deuteronomy 20:1-9.

The subject here is going out "to battle against thine enemies." It was instruction for Israel after they got into the land of Canaan. We also have enemies to fight with: so many things that try to creep into our lives or into the assembly, the devices of the enemy, especially when we are found in much weakness and fewness of numbers. The important thing is that we must realize our privileges first, before we try to take up the responsibilities. If we take up the responsibilities first, they will be a burden greater than we can bear. It is in the privileges that we have received that we find the strength to bear the responsibilities. When Israel would see the horses and chariots and people of the enemy, they were not to be afraid. "Be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee." v. 1. Similarly for us, we might feel our weakness, and that is a good thing, but "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4. The Lord in us is greater than all the enemy and all his devices. Knowing this should give us strength to fight a good warfare.

One of the privileges of Israel in v. 1 was that they had been brought up "out of the land of Egypt," and delivered from slavery there. We have been brought up from the pit of sin and delivered from the slavery of the enemy. What great power that was that brought us up and delivered us! In ourselves we are weak and faint, but look back and see what He has saved us from. The Lord has done it, and He hasn't changed. The Holy Spirit is still as strong today as He was then.

"The priest shall … speak unto the people, and shall say unto them, … Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, etc." vs. 2, 3. Every morning when we wake up we have to face once again the world that cast out our Saviour and that still rejects Him. We're following a rejected Lord. It might seem to be too much for us, but the strength that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead is with us. If each morning we realize the place and the power that we have in Christ, then we will not be fainthearted and trembling, "For the Lord your God is He that goeth with you to fight for you against your enemies to save you." v. 4. We must never put responsibility before privilege, for then the load is too great. When we realize the wonderful deliverance that we have, and that the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us is still the same today, then we are strengthened and encouraged to fight battles for the Lord.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might." Eph 6:10. We have no strength in ourselves, but what a privilege to be given the whole armour of God to put on! That is the privilege, but then the responsibility follows: "To stand against the wiles of the devil." We have been given a new nature, but we must feed the new nature in order to be strong. The old nature can do nothing to please the Lord, but we stand in new creation, and it is as such that we are told to "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wile of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood." It is a spiritual battle and for this there is a full armour provided. Read verses 13 - 17. There is the full uniform; it is a privilege to be given that by the Lord. Our responsibility is to have it on and to use it effectively; to know how to do that we must read the Word to see the place we are in, the Person Who dwells within us, and the power that is at our disposal.

"What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it …that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it … that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her … that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return unto his house, etc." Deut. 20:5 - 8. Here we have what might distract or hold back from fighting: a new house, a vineyard, a wife, or fear. They were real hindrances then and can be so now. However, remember, privilege comes before responsibility. Think of the place of blessing that we have in Christ, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of our Saviour. Don't awake in the morning thinking of the weight of your responsibilities; that will discourage you. Begin with the sense of all these wonderful things that we have in Christ and you will be strengthened to meet the day.

We were reminded not long ago how in battles in history, if a soldier in the front line went down, another in the second line would step up to take his place, so that the front line was always complete. In an assembly, as some of the saints get older and weaker, or are taken home, there have to be younger ones to step up and take their place. We might be afraid to take these responsibilities, but the Lord is still as strong. If we think of our privileges in the Lord, of all that He has done for us, it will encourage us to step up and fill the gaps. The thought of what He has done for us will make us willingly (not grudgingly) take up the yoke for the Lord. But remember, we must first realize what privileges we've been brought into.

"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. 2:1. This exhortation to Timothy begins by firstly presenting, in verse 1, a privilege that he had received: "the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Then verse 3 gave him a responsibility: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." We are called to take the responsibility of soldiers and to "endure hardness," but remember that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood." We have a new nature, and we have the Holy Spirit, but we also still have the old nature which makes us doubt and sin. In order to be "good soldiers of Jesus Christ" and to "endure hardness" for Him we must feed the new nature and starve the old one to keep it in the place of death.

Hebrews chapter 11 is the faith chapter. Those saints of old did some pretty amazing things by faith. It is our privilege to see and know about all these worthies of faith who accomplished great things for God. They are the "great cloud of witnesses" in chapter 12:1. Then we have our responsibility: "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus." If we do not lay aside "every weight" and "the sin which doth so easily beset us," then the weights and the sins will hinder us from carrying our responsibilities. What will help us is, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of faith." He is the example set before us, and part of that example is, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." He had a joy set before Him, and we also have a joy set before us. Think of the joy of seeing Him and of being with Him for ever. That will strengthen us to endure the hardships we might meet in following a rejected Lord.

"For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6. Read verses 6 - 10. Verses 6 and 7 give us our privilege. Before we were in darkness, but now we have been brought into this marvellous light. This knowledge, this light that we have, is a "treasure," and our responsibility which flows from it (v. 8 - 10) is to let that light shine. We are to shine for Him down here. The moon doesn't shine by its own light; it reflects the light from the sun. We will reflect this light from the Lord if we are "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." v. 10. Let us shine for our Lord and honour Him, and show that He is in us. We can't do this on our own, but He can do it in us. J.F.