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March 10, Day #70 – We Do Not Know Ourselves

All of today’s readings are applicable to us and to our present culture. In each of these passages, we read practical wisdom to which we should all attend and dedicate to our everyday practices. For example, in Leviticus 19-20, we recognize that God is now giving the Israelites a series of criminal laws after having already covered ritual laws regarding sacrifices and offerings, religious laws that governed the priesthood, purity laws that relate to cleanliness, foods, and good health, and civil and moral laws relating to marriage and sexual behavior. In this section, God addresses criminal laws that relate to liability and propriety in living. He begins this section with “be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2). All law begins with and is based on the holiness of God. He gets to set the standard for law because He is the Standard for all law everywhere. His standard is holiness. He says, “Do not steal; do not lie; do not deceive one another,” etc., (verses 11, ff.). We cannot emphasize enough that God separated the Israelites from Egypt and the rest of the world by purification and sanctification (i.e., holiness) for His glorious purposes and for their good. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the Israelites were hardly out of Egypt before they rebelled against God – always seeking to be like the other nations around them in idolatrous practices. Israel’s idea of separation was vastly different from God’s. God wanted their separation to attract the nations unto Himself. However, throughout the centuries, Israel carried God's idea of separation from the world to the extreme, self-righteous separation of the Pharisees - which Jesus condemned. Leviticus 20 continues to reveal various laws with their punishments, and God repeats, “You must therefore make a distinction … do not defile yourselves” (verse 25). He ends this chapter the way this section began in Leviticus 19: “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own” (verse 26).

Proverbs 6:30-35 illustrates to us that, although all sins are a violation of God’s Word and are offenses against His holy character, nevertheless, different degrees of do sin exist. This means that some sins are more serious than others. This in no way excuses any sinful conduct, but it reveals that some sins have more harmful effects and more extensive consequences. Intentionally stepping on a neighbor’s toe may only cause him pain, but killing a neighbor affects the neighbor and his family (and potentially everyone). Proverbs 6:30-35 also shows us how capable we are of committing the worst acts of sin. One of the problems about “little” sins is that they can quickly escalate into “big” sins that touch many other lives - individually, collectively, nationally, and internationally. Lies lead to wars. A hungry man who steals bread offends and affects both the baker and the retailer; the man who commits adultery harms the woman, her husband, any children, and himself - as well as the moral fiber of his entire nation (cf., Leviticus 19:29).

In Mark 14:43-72, we notice in verse 55 that “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death but they did not find any.” Instead of looking for evidence, they should have been looking at the evidence – (1) The court was prejudiced against the accused [i.e., seeking “to put him to death]; (2) The trial was an illegal trial which was held at night; (3) the trial was held in the wrong courtroom; and (4) the trial was based upon false testimony that did not even agree with itself; and (5) a guilty verdict was rendered at the time of the trial. In addition, we notice immediately and wonder how quickly and horribly Peter’s behavior descended from “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 14:31) to “calling down curses on himself, swearing … ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about’” (Mark 14:71). Yesterday, however, we saw that Jesus answered this question - “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (verse 38). This section clearly reveals that none of us knows what we are capable of; we do not know our own hearts.

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