February 26, 2017 @ 333 MX with Over the Hill Gang.
It’s a brisk morning here in Victorville California! I want to thank everyone for coming this morning and I want to personally thank everyone who continues to support and encourage this ministry! It is my continued prayer that each of you would hear from the Lord something of worth … maybe something of conviction … or maybe something of praise that you will take with you today.
This week during my reading time in the Word, I was taken with marvel by several places in Leviticus. It was made so interesting to me as I read that I have concluded some of my marveling is something you needed to hear about!
As many of you may already know, the book of Leviticus is part of the book of the Law. This is where the 10 commandments and another 603 laws and statues are given (sometimes multiple times through multiple books) to the Israelites (and to us by extension). My first aha occurred as I was reading through the sacrificial offerings in Leviticus where I then compared it to the first account in Exodus. Remember that God is speaking to Moses some basic principles and practices of how to live one another and also with God. It was not only compelling to read the details of the sacrifices, but as it seems that the Lord does for me, he takes me to that very situation and puts me face to face with what’s going on and it of course got me thinking.
10 “Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull.
11 Then you shall kill the bull before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting,
12 and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar.
13 And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar.
14 But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
The basic principle is that when someone commits sin the penalty for that action is that something must die. We know from the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans verse 6:23a … “For the wages of sin is death, …”. But isn’t that really only justifiable (in our own minds) when someone commits murder? That seems like a reasonable judgment … when someone kills a person … they should be killed … right? In a very simplistic view … as it may be said in our society … “the judgement fits the crime”.
But let’s go a bit deeper now. Scripture actually says that there many things that are considered sin in the eyes of the Lord and each of them is deserving of the same penalty. Just go through the 10 commandments for starters … I am the Lord you God, Have no other gods before me, Make no Idols, Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain, Honor the Sabbath keep it holy, Honor your mother and father, Do not murder, Don’t commit adultery, Do not steel, Do not bear false witness, Do not covet. Commit any one of these, and you’re defined by the Bible as a sinner.
Let’s try to make this a bit personal, if I may. Consider a favorite pet. You’ve given your heart away to this dear friend of yours for many years. You two went through thick and thin times and your pet friend never left you or turned you away … especially in those hard times! Now I will speak personally … and some of you may have had to experience this, and I hope I’m not imposing on upon anyone … but when it came to be “that” time … the thought was practically unbearable to me and it was so difficult to take ownership of having to put my best feline friend down.
So when I consider what God stated to Moses and take ownership of what was said (make it personal) … that when I sin, something must be killed ON MY BEHALF, because of what I did. That brings the whole concept of a sacrifice for sin squarely home for me. Think about this and see how this may apply in your life … somehow, I don’t know exactly how or why, but even though I loved my pet friend and she showed me a lot of affection and brought a lot of joy into my life … still somehow my sin negatively impacted her life and caused a double dose of cancer and ultimately her untimely death. Although she suffered for several months battling that double dose of cancer, the Lord didn’t take her. Since he’s the one who gave her life, why didn’t He take her? The Spirit persuaded me that I needed to do this … because I needed to see the cost of sin. As I was reading through the sacrificial system in the book of Leviticus, I was remembering this cost that I surely didn’t want to pay.
And yet, when you look at the daily sacrifices that were required at that time… over and over again … animal sacrifices were done for hundreds of years! And yet they still continued all the way up until the 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple! Why didn’t the daily sacrifices cause a ground swelling of public concern and outrage? I think it would be safe to say that in our current politically correct culture and with the various animal rights expressions, there would almost certainly be some demonstration and outcry!
In one measure, the animal rights activists are correct when they question why it is that animals die needlessly. But isn’t that the point? Animals in God’s Law are not dying needlessly. They are in fact dying because of our sin! Yes my sin and your sin is the cause and the consequence of the termination of these innocent animals lives.
Let me be clear … I am not saying that anyone should kill anything because they feel deeply convicted of some past sin and certainly not to punish their favorite pet in any way either.
What I am trying to get across is the “aha” about how costly sin really is. In our society the “humane” way of putting a pet down by lethal injection is considered acceptable, although it is still taking a life. However, when you consider how special life truly is … scientific research has not (and not likely not ever) understand how life comes about from non-life, even if all the ingredients are present. God states that the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and that man should not eat the blood of any flesh (Genesis 9:4) because that is its life. So even with its acceptability in society, the putting down of an animal is effectively shedding the animal’s blood. Therefore in seeing my transaction take place at the Pet Hospital where I gave acceptance to this procedure, I saw what the Spirit wanted me to see. That taking the life of my dear friend was so difficult for me to first acknowledge that it was going to happen and that I was going to have to do it and even more so to watch. This is how the Lord sees every person man, woman or child when the consequences of sin is being administered and know with certainly that God is not pleased to see any reversal of life (Matthew 18:14, John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9).
What’s even more of a lever arm against me … is that this penalty also includes the most subtle kind of sin which also carries the same justice and penalty! Jesus said that even to look with lust is considered adultery (Matthew 5:28), or to be unjustly angry is a kin to murder! (Matthew 5:22) So what about telling a little white lie? What about keeping a secret? What about watching that “R” rated movie with the gratuitous sex scenes or graphic violence? What about being an extreme fan or being a workaholic? What about a little “pay back” for the rider took you out last race?
Yes I know … these may seem somewhat innocent, but they’re really not. I’ve done all of these just the same as many of you … and even more! I have no excuse and I have no way out of my personal historical record … the one that’s firmly in my mind and conscience!
So what can we do? We can’t go back in time and erase anything of our past. There’s no time machine for us to use and undo things … unlike what Hollywood wants to portray to our conscience … there’s no “Back to Future”! Our personal history is in the past and it cannot be rewritten.
Permit me to suggest to you a couple of concepts that may be of help to you. You may have another way of confronting and/or conquering personal challenges, so I do not suppose what I will suggest here is the only way.
First thing is that you have to come to grips with the fact every one of us sins … and we sin every day. In the book of Leviticus by the way, God has a sacrifice for the unknown sin (Leviticus 5:17-19) … that’s pretty telling isn’t? The next thing to do is to isolate one behavior or one trigger point that directs you towards saying something or doing something that’s has had a sinful outcome in the past. As you work through one, you will be able understand better how the Lord can work with you and you’ll be able to move on to another one!
Way back in the day… when I was trying to rid myself of swearing I used a gimmick to get me through it. Whenever I felt that urge to demonstrate my IQ, I would say “no puppy dog duh” instead! Yup it’s corny alright, but at the time it worked … at least for a season. There are other ways to get personal control over suspect behavior … there are books on self-help strategies to beat the band all over at book stores and over the internet. So I wouldn’t recommend you going to a book store or to the internet to seek out a latest fad or self-help thinking strategy.
What I would recommend is taking your situation to the Lord … preferably in the presence of a close Christian friend and also preferably having that friend to be of your same gender. It’s much easier for men to speak to men about things men think about and do, and that’s also true for the ladies. Then confess your sin and ask the Lord to help you with overcoming it. This is the critical part … we must be transparent in this … we must confess the entirety of it … and with specifics. Generalities will not suffice! When we freely confess to one another, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and He promises to help us overcome its control over us (1 Cor 10:13).
There’s no doubt that sin will always be an influence in our lives … it’s that sin nature we’ve inherited from Adam and Eve … it’s also that gift that keeps on giving. As believers in Christ, we know that we cannot be completely free from sin (and also its effects) and be sinless. Yet we can by faith and trusting the living Word of God through Jesus’ example, we can sin less! As I count the cost of sin in my life, it’s impact is so much more than conciliatory words of repentance from the conviction of the Holy Spirit … the cost of sin is the entire purpose and reason that Jesus came (Luke 4:43, John 12:27, 18:37). He is the lamb of God that was slain (Genesis 22:8, John 1:29, 36, Revelation 5:6, 7:17) for my sin, past-present-future, and for your sin past-present-future!
Consider the cost that Jesus paid for you and for me … and consider the next time you’re tempted to do something that might lead you to sin and especially in those places where you know you’ve contributed to that end! Consider our Lord Jesus who willing took on the cross to cleanse us once and for all eternity at the cross of Calvary (Galatians 2:20).