Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 20 April 2022:
Leviticus 18, 19 – “I am the Lord.”
In Leviticus 18 and 19, God gives several rules, statutes and commands to His people, and throughout He reminds them, “I am the Lord;” in fact, in these two chapters He repeats this proclamation 21 times. Why should you obey God? Because He is the Lord! Note that all of chapter 18 is dedicated to unlawful sexual regulations. For example, God says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22) Why? “I am the Lord [and] it is an abomination.” Homosexuality is listed in God’s prohibitions next to incest and bestiality, yet today our society celebrates it, and we now see some churches ordaining homosexual clergy. Some might argue that God’s laws concerning homosexuality only applied to Old Testament times, but these prohibitions are clearly reiterated in the New Testament (Romans 1:26-32; Jude 1:5-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 7:2; and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), along with many other sexual sins which have long been normalized in popular culture.
Similarly, God says, “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God (Leviticus 18:21),” yet we have recently seen states in America expand the laws for late term abortion. Concerning this verse, some might argue that the prohibition against giving “your children to offer them” is only about sacrifices to idols or only about children who have already been born, but Exodus 21:22-25 leaves no doubt that God views the unborn child as being just as valuable and entitled to life as anyone else.
The issue is not that God’s laws aren’t clear enough, the issue is we have made light of the sovereignty and holiness of God, and God is equally as offended with “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32) Silence is consent. ““Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the Lord your God. You shall not do as they do in the land…. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:2-5)
Of course, God doesn’t just tell us what we must not do, He also tells us what we must do – Be holy, love your neighbor as yourself, and obey all of His statues. (Leviticus 19)
Leviticus 19:2, 3 — “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy…. I am the Lord your God.”
Romans 6:19 — “Having been set free from sin, [you] have become slaves of righteousness.”
Before you were a Christian you were a slave to sin. You were trapped in sin and unable to do otherwise but sin (Romans 7:15–24). When God saved you, He freed you from sin. You are now a slave to righteousness. With salvation through grace alone comes the abilities, the inspiration, and the obligation to do what honors God. Contrary to what some preach, grace does not mean that you are free to do whatever you want. You have become a “bondservant” of Christ, and your life is no longer your own (Rom. 1:1). When you accepted forgiveness and grace from God through Christ, you forfeited the right (which you never really had) to live a self-guided life based upon your own “natural” desires and understanding. As a slave to righteousness, you are compelled to no longer act selfishly. You are obligated to live a holy life, honoring your Master. Righteous living is not optional for a Christian.
Having said that, we are not called to obey God from a sense of obligation, but rather from love. With salvation, we received the Holy Spirit power of love for the first time to overcome sin, yet, immature in our love, we still desire to sin (though we are no longer controlled by sin and don’t have to sin). We now sin because we want to, not because we must – as the old pastor would say, “Something is wrong with your ‘wanter.'” However, the more we grow in our love for Christ and the more we fully appreciate the grace we have received from Him, the more we will desire to remain faithful to Him in thought, word, and deed, not to earn His love but rather to demonstrate our love. When we truly love to serve the One we love, obeying Him is no longer a chore – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
- Galatians 2:20 — “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Love is the remedy for sin. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” God’s love for us empowers us to love, and the more we learn to appreciate God’s love for us and “abide,” or live, in His love, the more we will naturally love, trust and obey Him, which is further manifested in our love for others.
God paid an incredible price to ‘purchase’ you from the slavery of sin – “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19) Again, however, Jesus gave His life for you not to be a task master but rather to be your intimate friend – “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) Jesus is not a supernatural killjoy, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life which brings you complete joy for eternity – “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11) “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)
- 2 Peter 1:3-11 — His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Through Christ, you have already been granted “all things that pertain to life and godliness” so that you can now partake “the divine nature, having escaped the corruption… of sinful desire.” You have already been freely given the gift of eternal life and the ability to walk in the fullness of joy, you need only use and experience the gift you have received —
- “Think of it like this: When one of my daughters was young, I bought her a Danish for the first time. With much excitement and anticipation, I paid for it and set it in front of her. But no matter how much I tried to convince her, she wouldn’t touch it. The Danish belonged to here in reality; it was hers! But it did not belong to her in experience until she took the first taste (and never turned back). God has invited us to participate in life with Him; it belongs to us through our faith in Christ. But only as our faith increases and we take up the promises in reality will it belong to us in experience.” (Pastor Colby Garmen, Pillar Church)
You are no longer the helpless victim of your sin. The victory has already been won. God does not have to win a victory over your sin; He already has! You only need to apply His victory to each area of your life. If there is a sinful habit, an ungodly attitude, or an unrighteous relationship that you need to put to death, claim the victory of Christ’s resurrection today. Then you will be free to experience the abundant life that God intends for you.
- John 15:9-11 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 Apr 22: Today, live out the victory over sin you already have in Christ that your joy may be full and that you would glorify God.