Posts Tagged ‘sin is sin’

1 Samuel 2:12-25 (Part 5 of 6)
Eli’s Wicked Sons

Unrepentant Sin is a phrase that we talked about yesterday. Those are situations where we either don’t recognize a sin as sin or even worse, just don’t care. This is a conversation that my bestie guys and I had last night over dinner at Five Guys. Our wives were on one side of the table and we were on our side. Two totally different conversations that only occasionally intersected when you would pick on a word or a phrase here and there. They were happy to have their girl time talking down at their end of the table and we guys were having our much rarer guys only conversation. Those are rare. The girls in our circle of friends talk with each other daily and do a joint Bible devotional together constantly and they text back and forth about that daily. However, with us guys, not sure why, but we just don’t talk that much when we are not around each other. When we are together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Common history, common interests, the conversations just flow and together we can generate conversations that can make your inner soul hurt from laughter that is so deep. At the same time, we can have some pretty profound conversations too. Last night was one of those nights.

We were talking about the very subject that I wrote about last blog. Unrepentant Sin. How do you confront that as a Christ follower. There are people that we know mutually that outwardly say that they are Bible believing Christians but yet have sin in their lives that they are not recognizing as sin. They think the sin is OK for them because, well, they either don’t realize that the sin they are waist deep in is a sin at all or they just think that God will make an exception for because of grace, or they just don’t care that it is a sin because they want the pleasure of the sin. How do you confront people about their unbridled, uncaring, unrepentant sin that they are participating in when each of us are sinners ourselves? How do you do that? I am no perfect man by any means. I fear telling someone about the sin that they are waist deep in and don’t seem to see it as sin because I know that I have my blindside sins too. We came down to the fact that it has to do with relationship. It is only when you have relationship with someone that you can earn the right to speak truth into their lives. Certainly a shepherd such our senior pastor can caste a sermon about unrepentant sin and it may convict some, but most often it is through direct relationship with someone that a person will be confronted about their unrepentant participation in a sin that is clearly wrong according to the Bible. It is through me knowing you and you knowing me that I have a right to speak truth in to your life and vice versa.

I had my experience with this head on back in 2009/10 time frame. Elena and I were living in Livermore, CA and we were attending Livermore Alive Community Church. We had become best friends with the pastor and his wife, Luke and Felisha. As we began to grow as Christ followers and as the church began to grow, Luke decided that it was time to have an elder team in which he would be the first among equals as the full-time preaching pastor. After some prayer time, I felt like as though I could be an elder. I had the passion. I had the desire. I have the love for my Savior. Then over a weeklong period Luke had all the elder candidates over to his house individually (with his wife and kids gone) to discuss their candidacy. When it was my turn, ya know, I figured it was just a formality. Luke and I were best buds outside of church. Elena and Felisha were best buddettes. We hung out a lot. But after a few informal questions, bam, Luke confronted me with the sin that I did not see as sin and even if I did my actions showed that I did not care that it was. Luke told me straight up, plain out that I could not be an elder in the church because I was living with a woman to whom I was not married. I was in effect commit fornication every time I had sex with Elena and that it was a sin to live in the manner in which I was living and was certainly stood in opposition to the qualifications for being an elder in the church as spelled out in Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. He pissed me off that night. He shocked me that night. He got up all in my business that night. But he spoke truth that night. I knew that Luke had his own sins but he confronted me with Scripture and he confronted me in love not hatred. He said I simply cannot allow you to be an elder when its blatantly obvious to anyone who reads Scripture that you are not qualified no matter how much I love you and like you. Bam. There it was. I was confronted with my unrepentant sin.

That’s the thing that struck me this morning as I read this passage again – how we have to confront unrepentant and unbridled disregard for God’s Word and deal with it. With that in mind, let us read 1 Samuel 2:12-26 for the fifth 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 we must deal with the ruggedness of the Old Testament that puts some people off. We must ask the question, “Does a loving God really will or want to put people to death?” In answering that question in context of this passage, we must consider what was going on in the Tabernacle. A person made an offering to the Lord in order that their sins may be forgiven and it was offered typically with a repentant heart wanting to be reconciled to a pure and just God. However, Eli’s sons were stealing the offering and making a sham of a person’s repentant attitude. God, in His love for Israel, could not permit this situation to continue. He allowed Eli’s sons to die as a result of their own boastful presumption. They took the Ark into battle thinking that it would protect them. But God withdrew His protection and the wicked sons of Eli were killed (1 Samuel 4:10-11).

The question is what will you do with it when someone confronts you with your unbridled expressions of unrepentant sin. What did I do when Luke confronted me with my unrepentant sin of living with a woman to whom I was not married. It does not matter that both Elena and I had been married twice before and were gunshy about marriage. We could make all the excuses that we wanted to cover up or to justify our sin but it was plain and simple turning our noses up at God. It was us saying that God will overlook this sin because its our pet sin and we have our reasons for why it is OK. We wanted our cake of living together but not the eating it of being married. We were confronted with our fornication. We were confronted with our repeated sexual encounters outside of wedlock. We were confronted with our advertising it to the world that we lived together and that we were not married. Until someone showed us through relationship that they had the kahunas to confront us about it, we would have continued in our sin in an unrepentant manner – not recognizing our sin, not caring that it was sin, and making an exception for it by ignoring God’s Word, making an exception for by avoiding those parts of the Bible, making an exception for it because it was us and God just understood and winked as us because it was us.

We must love those who we have relationships with enough to compared their lives to Scripture and lovingly tell them to what they need to be told (and be willing to have them do the same for us). Because God is a just God and because of that there are consequences for sins. We must love those we are in relationship with and tell them what they need to hear and do so in love. We don’t want them to have suffer the consequences that sin always has in our lives. Luke loved Elena and me enough to confront us about our sin. We finally saw that in order to grow in Christ and to grow in our witness and to really, really grow in our relationship with each other, we had to trust enough and each other enough to do things God’s way. Luke performed our wedding ceremony on March 21, 2010 right in the middle of church, right at the end of a sermon about doing things God’s way sexually in a world that seems to made sex a recreational sport. Luke was a proud spiritual mentor that day. He took a risk that we would have lost our friendship and also that we would have left the church. But he took the risk to confront us about our unrepentant sin. It was the first time that someone confronted me straight up about a sin I was committing. It was the beginning of growing from a spiritual baby into where I am at now on my journey. Sometimes, we have to be confronted with the cold hard truth of our sin.

There are consequences to sin and God will allow that to play itself out in our lives. It is never good. Eli failed to confront his sons and they paid the price for it eventually. They did not have someone to kick them in the butt and say what you are doing is wrong and they paid the price for it eventually. Help us to love the people that are in sphere of influence enough to tell them the truth that needs telling. Help us to care enough. Love enough. And invest in the relationship enough to the point that our words will be taken with respect and love and will be considered. Let us be loving in our confrontations. Let it be known that we only want our people to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. May we pray for friends that will do the same for us.

Amen and Amen.

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Numbers 5:1-10 (Part 2)

Purity in Israel’s Camp

 

The other night, we had a birthday dinner/cookout for my stepdaughter here at the house. My oldest daughter, my son-in-law and his son came over for the meal. My youngest daughter was not there but it was most of my little family. During the meal, my son-in-law and my stepdaughter, a career cop and a career retail store manager, respectively, were talking about interrogation techniques and the cues you can pick up on in a person’s demeanor when they are lying and when they are telling the truth. It was an interesting conversation about how our bodies give us away when we tell lies. There are certain postures that our bodies take on when we are accessing the creative parts of our brain, the part we access when we tell lies. There are physical results as well. The vocal chords get tighter. The skin prepares to sweat so it becomes supple and clammy. There are a host of other visual cues. Of course, interrogators also ask the same question in slightly differentiated wording to see if the suspect will give the same answer to basically the same question. To get to the truth, an interrogator must be able to get through the layers of lies. Lies can prevent justice from prevailing. Lies have sent innocent men to jail while the liars go free. Therefore, it is imperative for an investigator or interrogator to get to the truth – to separate the lies from the truth. Lies in the workplace, lies in criminal investigation can cause destruction and miscarriages of justice. Lies must be rooted out so that the truth can prevail. The truth is the ideal state of existence. It needs no alibi. It needs no cover up. The truth does not need to be constantly maintained. The truth does not need to be justified. But lies are rampant in this fallen world in which we live. If we care anything about the truth, we must ferret out the lies so that the truth comes out and the truth prevails.

 

In a world of inclusiveness, this passage today seems almost discriminatory. To exclude people from camp because of a skin disease or other such bodily malady seems against our sensibilities of all-inclusiveness these days. We, today, glorify lifestyles that have historically demonstrated to be closely associated with immune disorders that will kill us. We, today, glorify as good citizens those who have long criminal records who end up in confrontations with cops. We, today, glorify those things that are not consistent with God’s Word and not consistent with God’s ways. We allow sins to fester in our midst and destroy the fabric of our people. We act shocked when people die of diseases that seem forever linked with certain sexual orientations. We act shocked when a person with a history of breaking the law ends up in a confrontation with the cops. We live in a world where we refuse for there to be consequences for dabbling in behaviors that are bad for us. We allow sin of all kinds and all behaviors to run rampant in our society because we are self-actualizing ourselves, right? Do what feels good to me! Do what feels right to me! We refuse for there to be consequences for bad behavior. We refuse for there to be consequences for our sins. We act all shocked when there are consequences to our self-seeking. We would rather revel in our sins than consider that there are consequences. We would rather think God accepts us pursuing what makes us feel good. We would rather ignore the moral absolutes established by God so that we can achieve our heart’s desires. Do whacha wanna do? No consequences. No moral absolutes. No definitive right or wrong. I define truth for myself and what makes me feel good about myself is truth.

 

So, in our second day in the passage, Numbers 5:1-10, let us consider vv. 1-5 specifically, when we read:

 

5 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. 3 Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” 4 The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.

 

5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. 8 But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. 9 All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”

 

As we said earlier, this part of the passage seems almost discriminatory in our 21st century sensibilities. However, let us consider it from two perspectives. First, let us consider the medical and, second, let us consider the theological.

 

I would dare say that 6,000 years ago, medical science is not what it is now. Thus, simple diseases could have disastrous effects on society. Just think as recently as the mid-1300’s, where anywhere from 75 million to 200 million (depending on how the source defines the Black Plague) died as the result of diseased fleas imported on rats on merchant ships. These fleas carried a pathogen that wiped out about half the population of Europe at the time. So, just think of four millennia before that. Skin diseases could most often times be fatal in not cared for properly and were certainly spreadable very easily. God was establishing the first medical quarantines to keep disease from running rampant through the camp and wiping out His people. God was establishing rules of cleanliness for His people that would ensure their survival in what was a very unclean world at the time. Think of third world countries today where we are desperately trying to bring people clean drinking water. Clean water was hard thing to find back in those days and disease ran rampant as a result. God’s desire will these biblical regulations about food, and disease was to establish a standard through His people as to what a clean and healthy people. So, segregating and isolating diseased people was not discriminatory, it was necessary to ensure the health of all His people. Unchecked filth and disease could run through the camp and destroy the health and well-being of the camp. Those who were diseased had to be ferreted out and segregated from the rest of the people so as to ensure the long-term health of general population.

 

Another way of looking at these verses is to look at I theologically. It is a reminder to us that unchecked sin can lead to destruction. Sometimes, we need to have our sins called out and identified to us. These sins are not healthy for us and not healthy for those around us. According to J. Ligon Duncan III, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS in his sermon, “Why Is This in the Bible?” when preaching on similar passages in Leviticus, he says,

 

“The idea behind this, again, is that disease and decay are incompatible with the blessing of the presence of God in the assembly of His people. God is holy, and in contrast to that disease and decay remind us that we live in a fallen world, and that we ourselves have the effects of the fall exhibited in our bodies. It’s a picture…it’s a type, as it were, of sin. And therefore these diseases become things which exclude you from the assembly of God’s people in His presence and worship.”

 

Sin gets in the way of our proper relationship with God. Anything that we worship more than God is sin and sin separates us from God. When we believe the lies of sin, we are separated from God. When we masquerade around camp with sin in our souls, we are telling lies. When we parade ourselves as righteous when we are not, we are telling lies. We cannot lie to God. He knows it all. He can see right through our tricks and cover-ups. God’s truth and our lies are incompatible. He will separate us from the rest of the camp and call out our sins. And mind you now, no matter how we dress them up. No matter how we try to justify them as morally right. No matter how we want to seem shocked that there are consequences to our behaviors, God’s truth is unchanging. He is the truth. He is unchanging. The truth is the truth is the truth. We are accountable to our Creator no matter how much we wish that we did not have one. No matter how much we ignore Him does not make Him cease to exist. No matter how much we say that God is a folly of the common mind, something that we created, it does not make God go away. God existed before anything existed. Just because the rabbit doesn’t see Flash, my cat, behind him ready to pounce does not mean that Flash does not exist. It is the same with God. God will judge for our sins even if we never believe He existed. He will judge. He will set us outside the camp. He will show our sins to us. Where there is sin, there is an impediment and an impurity in our relationship with God. We cannot operate closely to God when we have unrepentant sins that we glory in and refuse to let go of. We will be set outside the camp. God will protect His people from our unrepentant sins. He will call us out to protect His people, to ensure the spiritual health of His people. Sin unchecked can run rampant in a society and destroy the very fabric of its being. Sin unchecked and calling what is sin not sin is a lie that spreads through a society and destroys it from the inside out. Just like a physical disease destroys our bodies from the inside out.

 

Let us go to God and ask Him to open our eyes to our own sins and how they are destroying the fabric of our lives and our families. Help us to see the lies that we have been manufacturing about our sins. Call us out, Lord. Call us out! Teach us that we cannot justify our sins in your presence, we must repent of them. We cannot say what You call sin no longer sin. You are truth. You are God. You are the one that defines what is right and what is wrong not us. Help us to see our sins as offensive to you and help us to repent and turn away from them. Help us a nation to see that our lack of respect and honor for God is causing sin to run rampant in our society and it is sin that causes us to justify our sinful behavior as right. Help us as a nation to return unto You, oh Lord! Help us to repent as a nation. Help us to root our sins. Help us to become the nation that is characterized like David, that we are a nation “after your own heart!”

 

Amen and Amen.