This is great advice for any age, even though when this was issued it wasn’t advice; it was a command. Here’s the whole verse:
Deuteronomy 4:9 Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.
And yes, I have as much trouble keeping my soul diligently as anyone else. Of course I could claim the excuse that my memory is particularly faulty, causing me to forget God’s commands and the lessons I’ve learned over the years, but that would be an outright lie. Surely, I have a lousy memory, but that doesn’t cause my disobedience. As Apostle Paul told us:
Romans 7:17-18 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
If I wanted a copout, there it is, straight from the apostle’s pen. But just because sin “dwells within me,” doesn’t mean disobedience isn’t my personal choice. Apostle John told us:
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them (the spirits that deny Christ), for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
That means we could resist sin if sufficiently motivated to do so. If I truly hated a particular sin I simply wouldn’t do it. To “keep my soul diligently,” I must respond to that red flag of conviction by first praying for the Holy Spirit’s intervention. Second, if I fail to resist the temptation, I must submit to the His grievance, allowing my heart to be broken, and determining to repent of that course of sin.
I hope it goes without saying that one cannot respond to sin in that godly fashion if he or she, you or I, are not actively walking in God’s Spirit:
Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Some of the most difficult tasks are dead simple, like climbing a hundred foot rope, or for me, climbing any length of rope. Similarly, walking according to the Spirit is dead simple, but deadly difficult. Here again, Apostle Paul gives us the key:
2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
To destroy the world’s stupid arguments and opinions we must really know God’s Word, if not by rote memory, at least by principle. The second part of the above verse is a matter of pure will. I know when my mind begins to wander from its obedient mode; there’s that red flag again.
I pray this will help you to overcome sin in your life. The way I conduct my life is certainly not perfect, but these principles help keep me from wandering too far from the Spirit-filled life that I so desperately covet.