Posts Tagged ‘intentional sin’

1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 4 of 6)
Eli’s Wicked Sons

When we were little kids, we found out early on about how difficult it was to maintain a lie. It is amazing the energy that is put forth by a little kid to maintain that he did not do something. It is no easier as you grow up. Lies are simply difficult to maintain. You have to create a reality that is not reality. That requires imagination and a re-interpretation of events and creating events that did not occur. To start, you need to invent a story, and you also have to monitor that tale constantly so it is plausible and consistent with the known facts. That task takes a lot of mental effort that innocent truth tellers do not have to spend.

You also need to actively remember the details of the story you’ve fabricated so that you don’t contradict yourself at any point. Remembering a fiction is much more demanding than remembering something that actually occurred. Because you’re worried about your credibility, you’re most likely trying to control your demeanor, and “looking honest” also saps mental energy. And you’re not just monitoring yourself; you’re also scanning your listener’s face for signs that he might be seeing through your lie. That’s not all. Like an actor, you have the mental demands of staying in character. And finally, you have to suppress the truth so that you don’t let some damning fact slip out—another drain on your mind’s limited supply of fuel. In short, the truth is automatic and effortless, and lying is the opposite of that. It is intentional, deliberate and exhausting.

That’s the thing that seems true about sins in relationship to God. Sins and lies are the same. In order for us to overcome the inner morality wired into us by our Creator, we must generate justifications for our sins as being OK. In order for us to continue sinning in our favorite line of sin, we must justify in our minds that it is OK. Then, we must convince others of its rightness. In order for us to enjoy our sins as we desire, there is no other way than to justify by significant effort and research why the sin is OK now in the 21st century. You may have to go as far as to say that God does not exist and thus the Bible is simply a fiction and that we are own moral agents and that we can define for ourselves what is right or wrong. The existence of the Creator and definer of moral rights and wrongs is escaped when you decide that He does not exist. Though justifying his lack of existence does not make Him stop existing and always have existed though.

Others will try to justify the rightness of their favorite sin by saying that man for centuries has misconstrued what the Bible meant. What the writers meant in the Old and New Testaments was not the sin we think of today – thus making the sin we think of as OK for us today. Others will try to justify their sin by saying that Jesus never said anything directly about that so they are not going to worry about anything that Jesus did not say. In order to do that, you have to destroy the Trinity of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit that have pre-existed together through all eternity and thus Jesus is part of the inspiration of every word in the Bible. There are those too that will justify their sin by saying that God has changed since the New Testament. He is no long the Smiter of all Smiters. He is simply a God of love and he gives us grace and thus all that Old Testament stuff is invalid. In order to do that, you have to also ignore the writings of the New Testament that are consistent with the Old Testament. All of these arguments are made when we sin and don’t want to repent of those sins. Just look at adultery. Just look at homosexuality. Just look at any sin that we don’t want to give up. Think of the reams of paper that are piled up in defending homosexuality and homosexual marriage and the paper that has to be generated to defend heterosexual marriage. In order to make one right you have to make arguments and justifications and for the other there is nothing that needs be said for it is the truth of God for relationships and requires no justification. It is like trying to maintain a lie. Defending our sins takes so much work and convincing others of its rightness is such a burden and whereas the truth is simple and needs no defense and no maintenance.

All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God but when we refuse to repent of sins that we love that’s when our train starts to go off the rails. It is one thing to sin inadvertently or out of ignorance and then seek forgiveness from God and repent. But to be so prideful that you don’t want to give up your pet sins and continue sinning despite knowing they are sins seems a far worse thing.

That’s the thing that struck me this morning as I read this passage again – how we justify our sins as OK in our mind when we don’t want to give up what we are doing that is wrong in the sight of God. With that in mind, let us read 1 Samuel 2:12-26 for the fourth of six reads of this loaded passage today:

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.

18 But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.[a] 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.[b]” 21 And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[c] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[d] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people.

In this passage, we see that Eli’s sons knew better, but they continued to disobey God deliberately by cheating, seducing, and robbing the people. The deliberate sins carried out with deceitfulness were beyond the pale of what God could stand. All sins are wrong and deserve punishment in the face of a pure and just God but to sin intentionally may be a worse thing than sins committed in ignorance. When we sin out of ignorance, we deserve punishment for sure but when we sin intentionally, the consequences can and should be more severe. We cannot ignore God’s warnings about sin just because we like our pet sin and are able to justify in our minds why it is OK. No matter how we slice it, justify it, color it, bend it, sin is sin.

Let us seek to identify those stubborn strongholds of sin in our lives. Let us seek to find those areas of our life that we are lying to ourselves as those things that are not sins but really are. Let us examine ourselves in the microscope of Scripture. Let us examine ourselves in the courtroom of our heart with the Holy Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit accuse us of the sins that we want to keep and let us see them in the bright lights of the truth of Scripture. Help us to see those sins too that we are committing that we did not even realize were sins. Help us to repent in the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Help us to no longer spend all the energy needed to maintain our sins as right. Help us to see sin for sin. Help us to daily become more and more like Christ until that day we are made perfect when we arrive in heaven. Help us to have humble hearts enough to admit that our sins are sins and no longer try to justify them.

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 15:22-31

Offerings for Unintentional Sins

“But I didn’t mean to!” Famous last words of many a kid. That is the exclamation of a child who has been caught doing something they were not supposed to do. The invocation of the “I didn’t mean to” defense, in a child’s mind, is a valid defense in the parental courtroom of family law. Although it is offered up, it is rarely a defense that works. It is often followed by the sheepish eyed look, that Puss-N-Boots from the movie, Shrek, look and an “I’m sorry” response.

 

One of my dad’s oft-used sayings (and come to think of it, he had a bunch of sayings) was “Sorry don’t feed the bulldog!” What? Huh? That was a strange one. I have never heard it used by anyone other than my dad. I googled the phrase this morning, expecting to get a blank response from Google. Humorously, in my mind, I thought Google would come back with like, “What?!?!” or a WTF response. However, this phrase is documented outside my dad’s spouting of his many sayings. “Sorry don’t feed the bulldog” is a real saying not just something my dad made up. Come to find out it is often used in a business setting (though I have never heard it used in my 32-year business career). According to www.phrasefinder.com, in a business setting,

 

“to “feed the bulldog” is to generate sufficient revenue to meet expenses. I don’t know much about bulldogs, but I’m willing to bet they get aggressive and insistently unhappy when not fed on a regular schedule. Overhead costs tend to be like that, too. The rent must be paid. The payroll must be met. Productive actions, not mere words, will feed the bulldog”

 

Well, I’m just blown away. One of my dad’s catch phrases is a real thing! In my dad’s context within our family, it had a similar meaning. At our house, it meant that just saying that you are sorry doesn’t change the fact that you did something wrong. A crime against family law was committed regardless of whether you are sorry for having done it or not. Punishment was to follow regardless of whether you were repentant or not. Dad did not care for determining whether I or my brother were sorry we got caught or whether we were truly repentant for the error of our ways. Punishment happened because “sorry don’t feed the bulldog!”

 

It was that phrase that was so often used by my dad that came to mind when I read today’s passage, Numbers 15:22-31. Let’s read it together this morning:

 

22 “‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses— 23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the Lord gave them and continuing through the generations to come— 24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering.[a] 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have presented to the Lord for their wrong a food offering and a sin offering. 26 The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

 

27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven. 29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.

 

30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31 Because they have despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”

 

According to my dad’s law of “sorry don’t feed the bulldog”, it would not have mattered if a violation of family law was intentional or unintentional, a crime was committed and you had to pay. It seems inconsistent with God’s character for there to be a differentiation between unintentional and intentional sin. Is it not true that Romans 3:23 tells us that we all have fallen short of the glory of God because we have sinned? And, the New Testament, overall, hammers home the point that just one sin no matter how egregious it is or not separates us from God. One sin regardless of its severity or intention separates us from God. Is this a contradiction between the Old and New Testaments and thus brings into the question the inerrancy of the whole Bible?

 

I do not think that God and His Word are being inconsistent here. What God is making a distinction between, here, is the punishment for sin, the consequences of sin. If a person or the whole nation of Israel violated God’s law without realizing they had done so at the time, the punishment was less severe than if a person brazenly and defiantly violates God’s law. The person who unintentionally sins when called out on it, repents of the sins, makes the offering and gets right with God whereas a person who does not care that they have violated the law and thumbs his nose up at God will receive a stiffer penalty. Each pays a price for their crime. There is justice handed out. Just as all murder is wrong, but a husband who murders a criminal is who in the midst of raping the husband’s wife may get a different sentence than a man who simply murders for the sport of it. God will forgive those who have repentant hearts for the sins. The difference between a repentant heart and a heart that is sorry they got caught is that the repentant heart is willing to make recompense for their crime or suffer the consequences of their crime anyway. Here, we see God telling the difference in our hearts. Are we repentant or are we just upset that we got caught with no intention of changing our behavior. God sees the heart and hands down punishment that is fitting. There is still punishment. There is still a price to be paid though. God would be inconsistent with Himself otherwise. We must pay for our crimes of sin. Simply a sorry does not feed the bulldog.

 

The offerings of the Old Testament foreshadowed the offering of Jesus Christ Himself as a sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Jesus is the sufficient substitute for forgiveness and eternal life. This is true regardless of intentional or unintentional sins, whether a person believes he has sinned a little or sinned a lot.

 

The emphasis in Scripture is that humanity was created good but is sinful now as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3). Regardless of the type or level of sins a person has committed, Jesus is sufficient to forgive and offer eternal life. Those who reject the gospel, regardless of how much or how little sin they have committed, will be separated from God for eternity and will experience everlasting punishment for their sins. God calls all people to come to Him, for there is no other name under heaven given to offer salvation (Acts 4:12).

 

So my dad was right. Sorry don’t feed the bulldog. Our sins whether intentional or not require a price to be paid. Our price for sin, even just one sin in a lifetime much less all the sins we commit (whether intentional or not) is eternal separation from God. The only way we can be reconciled is through the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. He is the only way that we can commute our sentence and be set free. We cannot feed the bulldog by doing good deeds to offset our sins. Our sins are crimes and crimes must be punished. It is only through Jesus Christ that we are released from our just and right prison cell for the crimes, the sins, we have committed.

 

Because sorry don’t feed the bulldog.

 

 

Amen and Amen.