Do you ever think of God’s commands as too hard? In many ways, they seem impossible. The longer we live in this fallen world, the more we see our sins, failures, and weaknesses. Try as we might, we just can’t resist temptation; we just can’t overcome our sin for good.
Sometimes, in facing a besetting sin—a sin that seems to haunt us, taunt us, and rule us—we may feel discouraged. We may want to give up the battle. We may think we just don’t have what it takes to live a life of godliness.
This is an issue Moses addressed in the book of Deuteronomy and it gives us hope in our battle against sin.
At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses renewed the covenant with God’s people. He reminded them all God had done to rescue and redeem them. He warned them to be watchful and wary of their hearts, lest they turn from God to worship idols. Moses told them of the consequences for sin and the curses that would come upon them if they abandoned their covenant with God.
In chapter 30, Moses spoke about the future. He told them that when they find themselves scattered among the nations as punishment for abandoning the covenant, they would need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness for sin and the Lord would restore them. God would then transform their hearts so that they could love him with all their heart and soul.
He then reminded them that they can obey God and they have the means to do so:
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).
The reason God’s commands are not too hard is because he supplies the grace to keep them. The same One who gives the commands also enables us to obey them. For the Israelites, that grace was “the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
On this side of the cross, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who brings us from death to life, who removes our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. It is the Spirit who also gives us the word and enables us to understand it. He is the one who uses it with precision in our hearts, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Paul tells us in Titus that the same grace which justifies us is the same grace that sanctifies us “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Peter tells us that we have been given all we need to live a godly life: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Why is it not too hard to obey God’s commands? Because he enables us to do so through the power of the Spirit at work in us and the through knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done. The gospel tells us that Christ obeyed the law perfectly for us. His obedience is credited to us. God looks at us and sees Christ’s righteousness.
This is good news! God’s commands are impossible apart from Christ, but are made possible through the gospel and the Spirit of Christ at work in us. This is good news for when we face temptations to sin. This is good news when we are weary and weighed down by our failures. This is good news for the weak and worn and discouraged.
We have the very Spirit of Christ living within us. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us. Day by day, he is transforming us into the likeness of our Savior. While the battle is indeed hard, we are not left on our own. Christ is with us, strengthening and sustaining us to resist sin and walk in obedience. When we stumble and fall, his grace covers us. Because we are united to him by faith, he is for us what we can’t be; he is righteous in our place. And he promises that the work he began in us will be completed. In eternity, we’ll shed our sin once for all and will spend forever worshiping God for his grace toward us in Christ.
Dear friend, if you find yourself facing besetting sin and thinking “It’s too hard!” turn to Christ. Repent of your sin and receive forgiveness through the gospel of grace. Rest and rely upon God’s grace for you in Christ and the work of the Spirit in you. Utilize the means of grace to resist and fight against your sin. And know that one day you will reach the finish line. The work God is doing in you will one day be complete. What a joy to look forward to!
All because of God’s enabling grace.