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As I looked for something in this week’s portion that I have not noticed before once again the Hebrew of a passage caught my attention.

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.” Deuteronomy 29:18-19

The word for “safe” in verse 19 is actually shalom which most often means “peace.” The common Hebrew word for “safe” is betach. Knowing the Hebrew of this verse heightens the personal conviction. It is more often that I have justified sin by claiming that I have peace about something than thinking I will be safe from consequences. (Of course, having peace about something results in feeling safe from consequences.) There is a stark contrast between selfish peace and G-d-given peace. Our personal peace can so easily lead us astray because it “feels right.” However, the Holy Spirit provides a peace that accurately convicts sin and encourages righteousness.

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.” Psalm 85:8-9

The way to know whether the feeling of peace is self-generated or the work of the Spirit is by examining the fruit. Is the fruit “poisonous and bitter?” Or are the fruits of the Spirit evident? The Holy Spirit will not give peace to sin. Therefore if we ever feel peace about doing something contrary to the words of the covenant we know it is a lie of the flesh and not the truth of the Spirit.

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165

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