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  • Chad Werkhoven

Deuteronomy 12:1-14 - Separate but not Equal

You were created to worship. But don't trust your instinct as to how to worship.

Read / Listen

Read Deuteronomy 12:1-14

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103

Q. What is God’s will for you

in the fourth commandment?

A. First,

that the gospel ministry

and education for it

be maintained,

and that, especially on

the festive day of rest,

I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people

to learn what God’s Word teaches,

to participate in the sacraments,

to pray to God publicly,

and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.


that every day of my life

I rest from my evil ways,

let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,

and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.



Any astute twelve year old Biblical scholar will quickly point out that nowhere in the ten commandments is weekly church attendance mandated for Christians. And they're right! It's not really 'commanded' anywhere in the Bible!

It doesn't need to be.

It's been said that man is incurably religious, a phrase I don't like because it makes religion seem like a disease, but which nonetheless accurately describes the innate drive seen in that people in all times and in all places have always worshipped something. So God didn't need to issue a command to attend religious gatherings at specific times in the week, because we do that instinctively (which is why so many people are so miserable in our exceptionally secularized society since they're suppressing a deeply embedded instinct to worship).

What God needed to command, and command often, was that His people not worship like their pagan neighbors. Sin has twisted the innate desire to seek and worship God that we were created with and turned it into a driving desire to do as we see fit (v8).

The Canaanites were wicked and evil, but they were quite religious. God had created them as well in His image, but that image was barely flickering, and their instinct to worship was no longer seeking God, but had become fixated on deifying nature (that is, making natural elements and processes into gods) and was highly sexualized in its expression.

Do not worship the LORD your God in their way (v4). The first step necessary to properly fulfill your instinct to worship is to separate yourself from the world, as God commanded His people Israel.

Dig Deeper

Quoting a passage from Deuteronomy in order to demonstrate the need for Christians to gather for corporate worship on the Lord's Day may seem a bit anachronistic (out of place). After all, didn't Christ's sacrifice on the cross eliminate the need for all of the animal sacrifices mentioned in this passage? Didn't Jesus set us free from the law?

The sacrifices we just read about were not sacrifices of atonement meant to symbolize payment for sin. God's people were to regularly gather to offer all sorts of sacrifices, tithes and offerings meant to show their thankfulness and to acknowledge God's claim upon their lives. This command has not been set aside by Christ's victory; in fact if anything, the need for you to demonstrate your gratitude and commitment to God has intensified! This is one of the primary reasons you are called to gather with the saints each Lord's Day.

The Tabernacle worship God commanded for His people broadened out over time into weekly gatherings in local synagogues. The early Christians followed this model and established the weekly Lord's Day services that we continue to this day.

While it is admittedly tough to cite a specific Biblical command for you to come to church this coming Lord's Day, it would be even tougher for you to page through the entire Bible and then formulate a good excuse for why you don't need to.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who calls us to gather our families to worship and rejoice with all of God's people on the Lord's Day;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength to fight temptation and fulfill your instinct to worship the Lord your God as He has commanded.



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Timothy 1


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