Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 17 Feb 18:
1. Leviticus 4:1-3 – “If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them,.. bringing guilt on the people….” We are still responsible and held accountable for our unintentional sins which reveal our complacency and lack of total devotion to God. Obviously, unintentionality is a lack of intentionality which the dictionary describes as “the fact of being deliberate or purposive [or] the quality of mental states (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.” God commanded that all of our thoughts, beliefs, desires, and hopes be directed towards Him. Anything else is sin, cosmic treason against the LORD. Note also that individual sin has corporate implications. No sins are committed in isolation; even the ones you think are secret will eventually impact those around you.
2. Leviticus 4:22 — “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering.” God reminds leaders of their burden of responsibility and that, not only are they personally responsible for what they do and fail to do, their actions affect others. There are no excuses in leadership.
3. Leviticus 5:5 – Old sins, even ones that were never revealed or that have been long forgotten by others, still need to be addressed. If at all possible, you must seek restitution and reconciliation with those against whom you have sinned. (review Exodus 22 on restitution)
4. God takes every sin seriously. The New Testament takes sin as seriously as does the OT – see Romans chapters 1-3.
5. Proverbs 17:2 — “A wise servant will rule over a disgraceful son, and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers.” This is an interesting verse when considered in context with how God responded to the unbelief of many Jews by opening the door of salvation to the Gentiles. As Romans 11:11 says, “Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” Paul continues: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” I believe that when “the full number of the Gentiles has come in,” the “Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (2 Peter 3:10; see all of 2 Peter 3 to understand more on the topic). Who do you know and love that you want to see counted among that number? Have you told them about Jesus?
6. Proverbs 17:14 – “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” Rarely do you ever really win an argument whether you are right or wrong. Just let it go and leave it to God to deal with whatever you have lost. When there is a conflict between you and someone else, the issue can become your idol (the focus rather than Jesus). Don’t let that issue cause you to lose sight of your goal of bringing that person closer to Jesus. If that person is focused on the issue or on you, they are not looking at Jesus. Is anything worth distracting you or someone else from Jesus?
7. Proverbs 17:27, 28 – “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” If there is any doubt, remain silent. Everybody has something to say, but most of it is not worth listening to and does not promote reconciliation or wisdom. “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4) The most important time to be silent is when you are feeling emotional (this is a warning of self-centeredness). Emotional words won’t be wise, godly words. You must first deny self and take up your cross. You must be compelled by the love of Christ to see that person as Jesus sees that person. As an ambassador for Christ, you are not allowed to represent yourself in that encounter; to do so would be to commit cosmic treason. Do not sin against the one who gave His life for you (though you didn’t deserve it) by seeking your own justification and glory from a position of self-righteousness. Leave justice to the Just One, and stay focused on the goal of reconciling people to Jesus.
8. Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” The truth of God is self-evident to those who choose to open their eyes to see it.
9. Psalm 19:1, 7, 9, 14 — “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork…. The law of the LORD is perfect…. the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether…. O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
In his meditations, the psalmist marvels at how the Creator has revealed Himself through both His creation and His word, and the psalmist rejoices in the fact that God has provided his word that we might live life to its fullest, aligned with the perfect will of the Creator. The psalmist understands the futility of attempting to live life apart from God’s revealed word — “Who can discern his errors?” God created both principles (the rules of how life works) and ethics (the rules of justice, mercy, and grace), but mankind replaces principles and ethics with values (how we perceive life works) and morals (from the word “mores” – what society accepts as good vice what is really good). Apart from God’s word, we are inclined to follow our values and morals into destruction.
The Creation reflects the nature, character, and will of the Creator as do the natural laws to which all of Creation, including us, is subject. Many throughout history, in great futility, have attempted to function in opposition to the laws of nature; predictably, the results have been devastatingly the same. On the contrary, those who have sought greater understanding of the laws of nature and have endeavored to apply those laws to life’s challenges have accomplished great scientific feats, greatly advancing things such as medicine and technology. Only the Creator can control Creation, and in fact, controlling nature is one of the primary ways God uses throughout the Bible to reveal Himself, doing something that clearly only God can do. He parts the seas, causes catastrophic storms and earthquakes, stops the sun and moon, puts eyes in men that had been born without eyes, brings the dead back to life, etc. Jesus’ power over nature revealed Him to be the Son of God – “And the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?’” (Matthew 8:27)
Like the laws of nature, God’s spiritual laws, His commands, His Word, His Law, reflect His perfect nature, character, will, righteousness and order. Jesus is the embodiment of the Word, and fellowship or unity with Jesus results in conformance to the word, God’s spiritual laws. All of Creation is subject to His Word, His Law. Many throughout history, in great futility, have attempted to function in opposition to God’s Word; predictably, the results have been devastatingly the same. On the contrary others have sought diligently to understand and live by God’s word and have brought great glory to God and healing into the lives of many. Nonetheless, born into sin, we are subject to the Law and doomed for death, apart from the Grace of God, through the living Word that has power over death. Defiance of God’s natural laws brings physical death, defiance of God’s spiritual laws brings spiritual death. God alone has power over death — “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) We are totally, TOTALLY dependent on God in the natural and spiritual. Our faith and hope are in Him; our love is our unity with Him which is manifested in obedience to His will, his commands. This unity will have predictable consequences in our lives.
We are saved by faith alone, and sanctified as we walk in God’s word. The psalmist understands the importance of God’s word, describing it as “perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, enduring, true, more desired than much fine gold, and sweeter than honey.” Armed with God’s word, the psalmist asks for God’s assistance to live in accordance with the word, “blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” Ultimately, the psalmist prays that, as he walks in the word, God will transform his heart to be one with God (Psalm 19:14). We don’t obey God’s word merely to be better people and to live better lives; we obey God’s word that we might know Jesus more and more every day. How does your passion for God’s word reflect your heart for God? Is the Holy Spirit using the word of God to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ?
10. Psalm 19:8-11 – “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Joy and success are found in obedience to God.
11. Psalm 19:12-13 – “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” We must strive with all of our might for perfection but trust in grace through Jesus Christ along the way. Christians are ever-mindful of presumptuous sins, not using grace as an excuse for complacency concerning sin. The closer you get to God, the more seriously you take sin as God does. Also, never forget that it is impossible for us to see our own sins apart from the revelation and conviction of the Holy Spirit.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 Feb: Consider where you have allowed values (what people believe about how life works) and morals (what people accept as right or wrong) to distract you from God’s principles (how life really works) and God’s ethics (God’s rules for justice, mercy, and grace). Seek to follow God’s principles and ethics alone, which will always be different than mankind’s values and morals.