Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (NRSVCE)
This very day the Lord your God is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances; so observe them diligently with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have obtained the Lord’s agreement: to be your God; and for you to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments, and his ordinances, and to obey him. Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments; for him to set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor; and for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.
“This very day”
The word of the Lord is not something which was given to us at some point in the past. The commands of the Lord are not merely passed on to us by our ancestors who actually received them. Certainly, we can trace the history of Christianity (and ultimately Judaism), look into archaeological evidence, and dig through historical texts to get a pretty good idea of who actually wrote the words we see on the page, and the commands we hear in church on Sundays. Indeed, there are entire academies dedicated solely to these projects. But the commands of the Lord are not for some past people. They are for today, for you and me right now. God does not speak His commands only to Moses, or only to the prophets. He speaks eternally, and thus at all times.
But notice that this is not merely a one-way relationship. God does not merely speak His commands and that’s that. Follow them, or else. The following verses highlight the mutuality of this arrangement. The Lord has agreed to be our God, and in turn we have agreed to follow in His ways—to obey, and give Him the due honor of being our God. And we have agreed to be God’s faithful people, because He has promised to make us holy. He has promised to set us apart from the world, to raise us up into something more. He has promised to sanctify us and make us holy. There are commands here, most definitely, but the commands are not arbitrary. They are for a purpose, and that purpose is what was promised to us in this mutual agreement. By obeying God’s commands, we are made holy.
We enter into this agreement this very day. This is a two way street. We are made holy this very day, so long as we observe His commands with all our hearts and with all our souls. But we need to be careful here, because it can sound like we are the cause of our sanctification, and that is absolutely not the case. Only God can sanctify us. Only God can make us holy. We do not have that power. We are sanctified by God because we do what He commands. But that we are even capable of doing what He commands to begin with is a work of His grace. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He agreed to be our God first, before anything else, and that entails bestowing upon us the grace to receive His commands and the grace which empowers us to follow them. Grace which enables us to enter into this agreement. We have a role to play in our sanctification, but that our role exists at all is the result of His grace. And the agent of our sanctification is God. All He asks is that we abide by the agreement. This very day.