““If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” (Deuteronomy 13:6–11 ESV)
Loving God with our whole heart precedes the closest of human relationships (siblings, children, spouse or friend). In this passage, if someone close tries to draw their affections & obedience after a false god then they were not to follow them, listen to them, pity them, spare them or conceal them. This is radical in a culture where high value was placed upon family. Singular devotion to God comes before family.
Radical measures are again called for when they are called to stone the tempter, and they are called to be the first one to cast the stone! Imagine casting a stone against your sister, husband, child or best friend. The standard of God’s holiness is HIGH. Do we pursue holiness with this fervor today? Do we aggressively eradicate the idols in our midst today?
Singular devotion is of such importance that He instructs the people to completely destroy one of their own cities if it is given over to following other gods (v 12-15). Are we this violent with the competing affections in our hearts? Probably not! God longs to bless His people by showing them His mercy & grace (v 17-18). But, the people must obey God – obedience starts with loving the Lord with all of our hearts and not having any other gods.
They were never able to obey out of a heart of love and we persistently fail also. Thankfully Someone did obey perfectly out of a heart of love. He not only took our sin, but also gave us His perfect obedience so God continually showers us with mercy & grace. Thank God for a substitute. Be thankful that His grip on & delight in you is not contingent upon your grip on & delight in Him. Your spiritual performance does not direct His love, approval & affection for you; Jesus imputed that to you so you can stop striving!