Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 6 April 2022:
Here is a message on Leviticus 4 and the sacrifice for sin and forgiveness — https://www.blueletterbible.org/audio_video/popPlayer.cfm?id=10390&rel=davis_bob/Lev
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 sinful nature, our insensitivity to sin, our complacency, and our 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.
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.
Leviticus 4:35(b) – And the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which he has committed, and he shall be forgiven.
“Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth understood that sin is not an abstract concept but rather pollutes everything it touches. Having successfully murdered Duncan, she thought her deed would go unpunished. Yet she did not account for the lingering filth of her evil. Despite her best attempts to clean herself, she had to confess: ‘Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.’
The idea that sin brings pollution is thoroughly biblical, and the reality of this pollution was dealt with under the old covenant through the sin offering described in today’s passage. “Sin offering” is a perfectly acceptable translation of the Hebrew term in Leviticus 4, but what the sin offering actually accomplished is better seen in the words purification offering. The sin offering purified the sanctuary; it removed the defilement of sin that occurred when the people broke the covenant.
Our holy God cannot abide the presence of those people and things that are unclean (22:3), and each time people sinned under the old covenant, they dirtied themselves. The burnt offering solved the problem of the Lord’s wrath, but it did not purify the one offering the sacrifice. There still needed to be expiation, or the removal of sin’s pollution, from the worshipers and the instruments of worship. The blood of the sin offering accomplished this cleansing. The tabernacle that became defiled because it was located in the midst of a sinful people was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice, and the sinner was made clean and able to stand before God again (4:1–5:13).
Unintentional sins and sins of omission were dealt with in the sin offering. These were sins people committed in ignorance of the Mosaic code or when they forgot those laws they had learned. Sins committed with a “high hand” were not covered (Num. 15:22–31). A high-handed sin is one a professing believer commits boldly and defiantly, not caring about the consequences and feeling no guilt about it once committed. It is a sin people commit fearlessly as they shake their fists, literally or figuratively, at the Lord. A sin committed with a high hand is not always the same thing as an intentional sin — all high-handed sins are intentional but not all intentional sins are high-handed. The truly converted will not commit high-handed sins, though they may commit sins of intention, albeit only after and during a struggle against the flesh (Rom. 7:7–25).
That an intentional sin is not always a high-handed sin is seen in God’s willingness to forgive sins that were clearly intentional (2 Sam. 11–12). Only those who are unconverted may sin with a high hand, for a converted person will express sorrow and contrition after an intentional sin, thereby proving it was never high-handed in the first place. As we repent over sins both intentional and unintentional, we are assured that we belong to Jesus.” (Ligonier Ministries)
Mark 12:30-31 – “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
What is the purpose of your life? What is your goal in life? Jesus said the purpose and goal is love, first to love God with all your being and then to love others as the fruit of your love for Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Then, Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) He said we are to love others like He loves us; so, how does He love us? “While we were still sinners [offensive and in no way deserving of His love], Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) So, what kind of love is God calling us to as our goal in life? Jesus makes it clear — “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…. Lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Luke 6:27; Luke 6:35) Do you see your ‘enemies’ as your love objective, as your opportunity to fulfill your purpose in life, as your chance to worship God in truth, as your way to fellowship with Jesus in His suffering for the sake of mercy and grace to others?
The Bible says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28, 29) In perfect love, God gives you ‘good’ times and ‘bad’ times and places ‘good’ people (though we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) and ‘bad’ people into your life that you might learn to fulfill your purpose of love, “to be conformed to the image [character] of His Son.” What is the character of Christ? Perfect love. Only Jesus loved perfectly, but He gave us perfect love as our life goal, which should be our ambition. This was Jesus’ final prayer for us to the Father – “…that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)
As Christians, we love God and show love for others, but not perfectly. John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) In our imperfect state, sometimes (most often) love is still a burden, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Nonetheless, God commands (not a request or recommendation), “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) So, the Bible says, “Pursue love,” (1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22) “…and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4) We must be steadfast in our pursuit of love, and this is a daily, continuous endeavor. What does this daily endeavor look like? Jesus tells us — “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27) So, the disciple’s steadfast daily pursuit is sacrificially bearing a cross (living out the mercy and grace of Christ in His Name and in His strength) in relationships as an act of worship, crying out on behalf of others and in the Name of Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
“He who rules his spirit [is better] than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) Controlling the heart is harder than conquering a city, and the person who demonstrates true love has demonstrated something more miraculous than the person who speaks in tongues, prophesies unknowable mysteries, heals the sick, casts out demons, and moves mountains. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Matthew 7:22-23) Though we are called to steadfastly pursue love, the ability to love can only come from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). So, we must walk in the grace of God, ever repentant in our failures, confident in the sufficiency of Christ, diligent in our efforts, and continuously prayerful for the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power in our lives. As Saint Augustine famously prayed, “God give what You command and command whatever You will.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 April 22: Our goal in life is love. The Greatest Commandment is love. We are called to love God with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Today, as you seek to walk in love, take steps to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2)” through the study of God’s word on love. The Bible [ESV version] translates the word “love” 652 times. Do a word search, and make a list of the verses which describe the attributes of love and which teach you how to love. Make a list and have a plan to commit these verses to memory. Below are just 20 verses to get you started in your meditations on love and your practice of love today —
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
- John 17:22-23 — The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- 1 John 4:11, 12 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- Hosea 6:6 — For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
- 1 Peter 4:8 — Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
- Galatians 5:22-26 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
- Luke 10:27 — You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
- 1 Timothy 1:5 — The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- 1 Peter 1:22, 23 — Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.
- Romans 10-12 — Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- 1 John 5:3 — For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
- 1 John 4:16 — So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- 1 John 3:18 — Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
- 1 Timothy 4:12 — Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:5 — May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
- Colossians 3:12-14 — Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
- Philippians 4:8 — Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
- 1 Corinthians 16:14 — Let all that you do be done in love.
- Romans 12:9 — Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
- John 15:12 — This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.