Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 30 March 2022:
Exodus 37:1-9 – Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And he overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold around it. And he cast for it four rings of gold for its four feet, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side. And he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold and put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark. And he made a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half was its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And he made two cherubim of gold. He made them of hammered work on the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat he made the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.
The Ark was the throne of footstool of God, located in the Most Holy Place, behind the veil, accessible only by the high priest, and then only once a year (on the Day of Atonement). Approaching the ark required the blood of atonement. The ark contained the Law, demonstrating God’s Justice; it would eventually contain Aaron’s rod, representing God’s transfer of authority to His priests, His power provided to His priests, and His role as shepherd of His people; and it would eventually contain a jar of manna, demonstrating His miraculous provision for His people. Covering the Law and other articles was a lid called the mercy seat (see also Ex. 25:17–22). God knew that Israel would break His law but that He would be merciful and cover their law-breaking to guard those who truly loved Him from His wrath. Ultimately, this was achieved through the death of a substitute and the sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat itself (Lev. 16). Dr. John MacArthur aptly comments that “blood from the sacrifices stood between God and the broken law of God.” “The blood and the mercy seat would foreshadow the final cleansing that would be achieved through the shed blood of Christ (Heb. 10:1–18). Because of this blood we can now meet with the Lord in worship just as the high priest used to meet with God before the ark of the covenant (review Ex. 25:22). Therefore, when we come into the Lord’s presence, we must strive to do so with reverence and awe, for in worship we are entering the great King’s heavenly throne room.” (Ligonier)
Mark 7:14-23 – “Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Based on many Bible verses such as Ephesians 2:1-3 and 1 John 2:16 (provided below), church tradition identifies three enemies of the soul, which have been called the trinity of temptation – the world, the flesh, and the devil (mundus, caro, et diabolus). Today, Jesus confirms that the greatest threat of the three is “the flesh,” sins of the heart. The world and the devil are external threats, but sins of “the flesh” are internal, self-induced and our responsibility. External tempters will test our hearts, but they can’t make us sin, and we haven’t sinned until we begin to be enticed within our hearts (thought sins) and act upon those thoughts (sinful deeds, the fruit of sinful thoughts).
Though He was tempted externally by Satan in the desert, Jesus remained without sin because He was not tempted internally, within His heart. Despite having not eaten for 40 days in a dry, barren land, Jesus was unaffected in His heart by external conditions, no excuses needed. Contrarily, Adam and Eve, succumbed to temptation in a place of complete abundance and tranquility. The issue is not your circumstances, your environment, or your past; the issue is your heart (a word mentioned 850 times in the Bible). Your heart is what God searches, tests, and convicts.
- Psalm 10:13 — Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
- Psalm 139:23 — Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
- Psalm 19:14 — Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
- Psalm 27:8 — You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
- Psalm 26:2 — Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
- Psalm 33:21 — For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Oftentimes, when we are tempted internally, we seek to blame the person or thing that tempted us externally — “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) This deflection ignores the heart of the problem – your heart. Have you ever said something like, “You make me so angry!” Does someone have more power over you than the Holy Spirit? Have you ever blamed your circumstances for your poor behavior? “I was tired…. I had a bad day…. I was hungry….” One of the fruits of the Spirit is the power of self-control. Proverbs says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked…. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Proverbs 25:26, 28) Do your best to avoid external temptations (guard your heart), but don’t blame others or circumstances for your sins, own them, accept full responsibility, repent, and sin no more. If external temptations have more influence on you then, Jesus, you need to get closer to Jesus – seek His face. Live “Coram Deo” – “Before the face of God.” Don’t stare at the problem, stare at the solution, Jesus Christ.
- Ephesians 2:1-3 — And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
- 1 John 2:15-17 — Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
- Galatians 5:15-17 — But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 Mar 22: Today, if you feel tempted to sin, don’t try to simply use your will power to overcome the temptation. Rather, pray for strength and focus all of your thoughts on Jesus. Live for Him, with Him and through Him, not for self, by self, and through self. Jesus as given you all power and authority through Him and is with you (Matthew 28:18-20), so walk in His power and authority, not yours.