I grew up hearing about Moses' not being allowed into the Promised Land. It made a great point about obedience in scores of sermons I heard as a child. While I was absolutely positive back then about the reason, it has become a little more obscure to me as an adult who has studied these things for so long from so many angles at the feet of so many great preachers. But that is not my point today.
I recently finished reading Deuteronomy. I want you to notice something with me this morning. If you have not read that book lately, please take the time to read the following passages:
Even with me the LORD was angry on your account and said, ‘You also shall not go in there. (Deut 1:37)
And I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying,‘O Lord GOD, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.' But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. (Deut 3:23-26)
Furthermore, the LORD was angry with me because of you, and he swore that I should not cross the Jordan, and that I should not enter the good land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. For I must die in this land; I must not go over the Jordan. But you shall go over and take possession of that good land. (Deut 4:21-22)
Did you notice something about those three passages? Moses was not bashful at all about blaming the Israelites for his predicament. He says God was angry with him "on your account" or "because of you." After reading that book myself in about five days' time, I understand exactly where Moses was coming from. I would have been frustrated, disgusted, and angry myself. In fact, since I read those first four chapters on the same day, I almost felt like Moses was trying to lay a guilt trip on them. He reminds them again in chapters 31, 32, and 34 that he cannot go where they can. And I am not sure I blame him.
Yet still God held Moses accountable for his actions no matter the provocation. He still had to pay the price for his "unbelief." A sin "in the passion of the moment" as some of our laws describe it, is still a sin to God.
The same is true for everything else we want to blame our sins on—our culture, our community, our parents, our circumstances. God expects us to overcome, and we are held responsible for the things we do no matter what or who the causes. Ezekiel said it plainly: The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (Ezek 18:20) Just as our God will never change, that principle of his judgment never will either.
We are all responsible for what we do. Period.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2Cor 5:10)