Then the Lord said to Moses,
“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.
This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally
by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.
Leviticus 4:1-2 (NKJV)
Since the first few chapters of Leviticus already dealt with
burnt offerings and peace offerings,
it would seem redundant that we read again about these "sin offerings."
But what I studied shows that these are, in fact, different.
For these are specifically for unintentional sins.
And that for me was difficult, at first, to understand.
So I considered sins of omission...
those good things which I know I should have done, but refused to do.
And sins of commission...
those things which take me action to commit... in thought, word or deed.
And that's where we find unintentional sins.
Like if you visited another country where traffic drives on the left, when you continue to drive on the right. You are still breaking the law, whether you know it or not... however, it was unintentional.
And God desired His people to remain connected...
and following with Him.
So even though they had the Law,
and Moses taught them of the sacrificial offerings for their sin,
God was allowing for those times when man sinned
without knowing or realizing all the laws.
If they were living sinfully,
without repentance, God could not continue to dwell among them.
My guess is that this must have kept the priests pretty busy.
But while I don't know more about this Old Testament topic,
I do know that this is something which Paul wrote much about in Romans...
how the law could actually be a problem for many of us,
pointing out our sin,
causing guilt and condemnation for some,
and tempting others.
For even Paul testified,
...it was the law that showed me my sin.
I would never have known that coveting is wrong
if the law had not said,
“You must not covet.”
But sin used this command
to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me!
If there were no law, sin would not have that power.
I must say that I've read these verses in Romans
without fully understanding them.
But now knowing that Paul was a Pharisee...
a Jewish Scribe who studied the Old Testament law,
this makes so much more sense.
When we read of these sacrifices about the unintentional sins...
it is what Paul was referring to.
This is where he learned of his sin,
and then the law, he says, brought it to his attention as a sin,
and he became tempted by it.
I guess, simply due to the nature that it was on his mind.
At one time I lived without understanding the law.
But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance,
the power of sin came to life, and I died.
So I discovered that the law’s commands,
which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.
Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me;
it used the commands to kill me.
Paul is willing to admit the extreme here...
that he was overpowered by one such example of sin.
Even a man who was devoutly religious... struggled,
not only with his sin
but with the guilt and shame of it.
But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.
But how can that be?
Did the law, which is good, cause my death?
Of course not!
Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death.
So we can see how terrible sin really is.
It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.
Paul's honest reflection is desperate to know God's purpose for the Law.
He is certain that God would not give it
to temp and condemn him.
He realizes, rather it is the sin nature within himself.
For God can only be good and give good things.
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good.
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.
I don’t really understand myself,
for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
But if I know that what I am doing is wrong,
this shows that I agree that the law is good.
So I am not the one doing wrong;
it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
But if I do what I don’t want to do,
I am not really the one doing wrong;
it is sin living in me that does it.
These are examples of...
first the sins of omission,
second the sins of commission.
I have discovered this principle of life...
that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
I love God’s law with all my heart.
But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.
This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Oh, what a miserable person I am!
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are not alone in this battle against sin...
one of the most brilliant Christian leaders,
one who planted the first churches,
who suffered most for the Gospel,
was honest with his struggle.
And yet, he pressed on...
and God used him all the more,
as He claimed Christ as the answer to his struggles.
So you see how it is:
In my mind I really want to obey God’s law,
but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Oh that I can be this honest,
Oh that I can understand the Scriptures...
and the depths of God and myself this much.
Word of God... train me, today...
to love Your law with all my heart,
to understand that only by Your grace am I dead to sin, and free to live.
Lord, lead me in a life so humble.
Teach me the obedient way.
Help me to be as honest
with myself and others...
transparent as Paul in his struggle
that I can relate and be profoundly used by You.
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