Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 18:13 - 18:13

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Deuteronomy 18:13 - 18:13

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Deu_18:13. Thou shall be perfect with the Lord thy God.

IT seems strange that any who have ever heard of Jehovah, should need to be put on their guard against alienating their hearts from him, and placing their affections on any created object in preference to him: but the Israelites, who had seen all his wonders in Egypt and in the wilderness, were ever prone to depart from him, even as we also are, notwithstanding all that we have heard respecting that infinitely greater redemption which he has vouchsafed to us through the incarnation and death of his only dear Son. Permit me, therefore, to remind you, as Moses reminded the people committed to his charge, that you must on no account, and in no degree, transfer to the creature the regards which are due to your Maker alone; since his injunction to you, and to every child of man, is, “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.”

In order to bring home to your hearts and consciences this solemn injunction, I will,

I.       Unfold its import—

As for absolute perfection, there is no hope of attaining it in this world. Job himself, whom God pronounced a “perfect man [Note: Job_1:1; Job_1:8.],” declared, that if he should arrogate to himself a claim of absolute perfection, his own mouth would condemn him, and prove him perverse [Note: Job_9:20-21.]. But uprightness there is, and must be, in all who shall be approved of their God. In this sense, we must be perfect with the Lord our God:

1.       In love to his name—

[We are commanded to “love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.” And every one of us should be able to say with David, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee [Note: Psa_73:25.]” — — —]

2.       In affiance on his care—

[Whatever our trials be, there should be no leaning either upon our own strength or on any created power: for “cursed is the man that maketh flesh his arm, whose heart departeth from the Lord his God [Note: Jer_17:5.].” Our trust should be in God alone: and on him should we rely without the smallest measure of diffidence or fear. Our continual boast should be, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what either men or devils can do against me.”]

3.       In zeal for his glory—

[As we have received our all from him, so we should improve every thing for him. We should live entirely for our God: and, if only he may be glorified in us, it should be a matter of indifference to us, whether it be by life or by death. Are we called to act? We must resemble Asa, who, with impartial energy, dethroned his own mother for her idolatry, and ground her idols to dust [Note: 1Ki_15:13.]. Are we called to suffer? We should yield our bodies to be burned, rather than swerve an hair’s breadth from the path of duty [Note: Dan_3:17-18.]. In the whole of our Christian course we should be “pressing forward continually towards the goal, if by any means we may obtain from God the prize of our high calling.” This is the true nature of Christian perfection [Note: Php_3:15.].]

Such being the injunction, I will proceed to,

II.      Enforce its authority—

Without real integrity before God, we can have,

1.       No comfort in our souls—

[A man may, by an overweening conceit of his own attainments, buoy himself up with somewhat of a pleasing satisfaction respecting his state: but there will be secret misgivings in hours of reflection, and especially in that hour when he is about to enter into the immediate presence of his God. Even at present, an insincere man feels no real delight in God: and a consciousness of that will occasionally disturb his ill-acquired peace. But the man whose heart is right with God will have a holy confidence before him; according as the Psalmist has said: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace [Note: Psa_37:37.].” Hezekiah’s blissful retrospect, if not in its full extent, yet in good measure, will be his: “I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight [Note: 2Ki_20:3.]!”]

2.       No stability in our ways—

[“A double-minded man will be unstable in all his ways [Note: Jam_1:8.].” Let but a sufficient temptation arise, and he will turn aside, even as Demas did, to the indulgence of his besetting sin. The stony-ground hearers, for want of a root of integrity within themselves, will fall away; and the thorny-ground hearers, not being purged from secret lusts, will never bring forth fruit unto perfection. It is “the honest and good heart” alone that will approve itself steadfast unto the end. But the upright man God will uphold under every temptation; as an inspired prophet has assured us: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him [Note: 2Ch_16:9.].”]

3.       No acceptance with our God—

[We may deceive ourselves, but we cannot deceive our God: “to him all things are naked and open:” and, however we be admired by our fellow-creatures, he will discern our true state; as he did that of the Church at Sardis; of whom he says, “I know that thou hast a name to live, but art dead: for I have not found thy ways perfect before God [Note: Rev_3:1-2.].” It is to no purpose to dissemble with him: for “he searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, and will give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings [Note: Jer_17:10.].”]


1.       Those who are unable to ascertain with confidence their real state—

[Surely you should not suffer this to remain in doubt. Look into the Scriptures; and you will find in the saints of old a well-grounded persuasion that they had passed from death unto life. Real uprightness is like light, which carries its own evidence along with it. I would not encourage an ill-founded confidence: nor would I, on the other hand, encourage that kind of diffidence which puts away the consolations provided for us in the Gospel. Examine yourselves as before God; and never rest till you have the testimony of God’s Spirit, that ye are Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.]

2.       Those who have an inward evidence that their hearts are right with God—

[What is there under heaven that can equal such a blessing as this? St. Paul himself had no greater jay [Note: 2Co_1:12.]. For you, Brethren, death has no sting, and the day of judgment itself no terror. You may look and long for the coming of your Lord. Be thankful then; and let the brightness of your prospects increase your vigilance in the path of duty, that “ye may never fall, but have an entrance ministered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: 2Pe_1:10-11.].”]