Tag Archives: sins

Scapegoat

Most people have heard the term “scapegoat.” Typically, we hear this word when referencing someone who took the fall for the team or someone who took the blame for something they weren’t even guilty of committing.  This term is rooted in Leviticus 16, when we read of the need for Aaron to present a live goat that would take on the sins of the people, and then go into the wilderness to symbolize the complete removal of the sins of the people.

There is argument over the term Azazel. Some people see this as being Satan. Others understand this term to mean “complete removal” or “entire removal.” No matter the possibilities, this action of laying of hands on the goat’s head for confession was seen as a transfer of the sins from the people to the goat. Driving the goat away from the people, into the wilderness, symbolized the removal of the sins of the people.

You may use this term “scapegoat” today to describe someone who carries the blame alone, despite their lack of guilt. This live goat that Aaron lay hands upon is a foreshadowing of Who would come to be the ultimate Scapegoat. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was free of sin. He was perfect. As He hung on the cross, it was as if Aaron lay hands on Him. The sins of all people were transferred to Jesus Christ. He bore it all. He died on the cross, killed like a criminal, and then He was sent away to remain in a tomb. But the story doesn’t end there. On the third day, He rose. Unlike the need for Aaron to continue to find scapegoats to purify the people, Jesus Christ was able to provide the complete removal of sins forever. There is no need for another scapegoat. Today, if you are convicted of sin in your life, turn to the one true Scapegoat, Jesus Christ, and repent of your sins. You will be forgiven.

“The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD…. When Aaron has finished purifying the Most Holy Place and the Tabernacle and the altar, he must present the live goat. He will lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the wickedness, rebellion, and sins of the people of Israel. In this way, he will transfer the people’s sins to the head of the goat. Then a man specially chosen for the task will drive the goat into the wilderness. As the goat goes into the wilderness, it will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.” – Leviticus 16:10, 20-22 [NLT]

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Dirty Rags

Every few weeks I have the task of cutting Marci’s hair. She is never too excited to get groomed. At times she will try to run away because she knows after her hair clipping comes the bath. During the whole ordeal of getting Marci clean, she manages to get me all dirty. When all is said and done, my clothing is all wet and covered with hair so I end up needing a shower.

We all need a cleaning, but a different kind of cleaning. But when Jesus takes off our dirty rags, He does not then become dirty. He is righteous. He is holy. When we encounter Jesus, when we put our trust in Him, when we allow Him to move in our lives, the Bible says that we become “white as snow.” We become righteous.

Today, praise the Lord for reaching out and removing those dirty rags you were carrying around. Thank Him for cleaning you up so that you are free to live a life with His righteousness. If you are still carrying around those dirty rags, understand you don’t have to carry them any longer: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).

“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” – Isaiah 64:6 [NLT]

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 [ESV]

Oh Everyone Makes Mistakes

Oh everyone makes mistakes. Oh, yes they do; Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too; Big people, small people, matter of fact, all people! Everyone makes mistakes, so why can’t you?

I used to sing that Sesame Street “Everyone Makes Mistakes” song as a child. It was the first song I learned. When I sing that song (and I still do today), I cannot help but consider Romans 3:23, as this song is definitely a song about us all falling short of the glory of God. No matter where we live, who we are, how young or old, etc., we all fall short. We all are sinners. And we often make mistakes.

Some mistakes can easily be forgiven. Some mistakes cut a little deeper. But no matter what the case, a mistake is a disruption of the glory of God for He cannot look at sin for He is holy. Thankfully God made a way to bridge the gap caused by sin. Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose again so that we could have new life through Him.

We will continue to make mistakes, but it is important to not focus on those mistakes. Instead, focus on your God. He is an awesome God. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more. Though hate and judgment can cause discomfort, His love wins. Where there is only weakness, we see His strength on display. Our mistakes show our brokenness, but the blood of Christ washes us white as snow. Today, let us not focus on the sins and transgressions that have broken us—instead, fix your eyes upon your God. Follow His will. Focus on His purpose.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [NIV]

Wiped Away

I remember when I was younger and the big thing was the IOU. I owe you. When you made a deal, you pulled out a piece of paper and wrote an IOU note. This note basically was a binding contract between you and your friend, and the holder of the IOU was promised that at some point they would receive whatever you promised on said note. I used this method of contract many times over.

When you paid back the IOU, your friend would give you back the paper and you could destroy it as a sign that it was paid in full. With Jesus, He takes that IOU note that is meant for us to pay back God so as to not face His wrath for our sin, and He pays it off for us. He pays it off and it’s cancelled. It is paid in full. Wiped away. Boom. He clears the IOU and it is nailed to the Cross.

How awesome is it that we have our sins wiped away? How awesome is it that there is no IOU? All we have to do is repent and then we are freely welcomed into the Kingdom. We no longer have an IOU. When it’s time for the punishment, we simply say, “Oh, I’m already paid. Jesus paid for me.” Thank you Jesus. Thank You for taking care of my IOU. He paid a debt we never could pay. My friends, we are cleared. We are free. We are His.

“Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood again us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.” – Colossians 2:14 [AMP]

The Moving Loveseat

When it was time to leave, Marci wasn’t finished with her bone. I knew the drill. If the bone was out in the open, Max would take it. The temptation is too much for him just as temptations can be too much for us to handle if we are not armored up. I thought I was clever and I put Marci’s bone under the love seat, her special hiding area, so it would be safe. When I came home I realized the temptation was still there for Max; he moved the love seat across the room and got the bone. He’s very food driven so the temptation was huge!

God’s Word shows us clearly that we can use passages of Scripture when faced with temptation. Each time Jesus was tempted in the wilderness what did He do? He quoted a verse. We can do the same thing. Nonetheless, there are temptations that are more dangerous for us than others. For each person this varies, but when there are these types of temptations that are ones we struggle with the most, it is a good idea to avoid them if you can so as to not put yourself in that position. God gave us the way to combat temptation, but He doesn’t necessarily want us to put ourselves in these situations just because He has given us the power to overcome them. When we open ourselves up to tempting situations, we give Satan a gateway.

If you have a problem with alcohol, why go somewhere if you know everyone will be drinking? If you have a problem with lust, why put yourself in a situation that could cause you to sin? Don’t hide the bone under the love seat. At the same time, never forget the power of God and His Word. God’s Word is powerful. God’s Word can be used whenever you feel tempted and you can overcome through Christ Jesus.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 [NLT]

Take Off Your Shoes

Moses was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Joshua was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Joshua 5:15). Holy means set apart or sacred. One of my favorite passages references Isaiah’s commission. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne and He is in complete awe and reverence as he hears the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” He knows he is unclean. He knows he is undeserving.

It is important to approach God with fear and awe. The fear is not the fear we consider when we typically speak of fear. When Proverbs 1 speaks of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, it doesn’t mean we are frightened as we are when watching a horror movie. Fearing God means that you have a fear of disobeying and displeasing God which would result in judgment and a disconnection from Him. It is about reverence and submission. God is holy and exalted above all. It is approaching with humility.

Yes, the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and when we repent we are forgiven of our sins. Yes, the veil has been torn and we can approach God once again. But it is important that we still approach God with fear and awe. The song says you have a friend in Jesus, and you do, but that is to be treasured not stomped on. When you approach God in prayer, in church, wherever—don’t take it for granted. Focus on Him. Remember He is holy and you too are to be holy. May your heart be filled with a passion and desire to worship, to truly worship Him, with all that you have and all that you are, each and every day.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” – Isaiah 6:1-5 [NIV]

 

Doing the Same Old Things

Repentance means that there is a change. Repentance says, “I’m sorry and I do not want to do this anymore.” Repentance or metanoia means “change of mind.” It is an inward response not a behavior reform; however, repentance should show results of a change of behavior.

Zephaniah spoke of those who were doing the same old things. There was no visible proof that there was a change of heart or a change of mind. After facing the consequences of sin the people were right back at it “bright and early” in the morning.

If you have repented of something, there should be a visible change along with your inward response. When you turn your life over to Jesus, when you confess your sins to Him, your life should not revolve around doing the same old things. If you find yourself still doing the same old things today, ask Him to give you the strength to press forward. Pray for forgiveness, for comfort and for guidance. Never be fearful of asking your brothers and sisters for help—for encouragement, for support, for accountability. You do not have to spend your life doing the same old things. Jesus offers you something new.

 

“I thought, ‘Surely she’ll honor me now,
accept my discipline and correction,
Find a way of escape from the trouble she’s in,
find relief from the punishment I’m bringing.’
But it didn’t faze her. Bright and early
she was up at it again, doing the same old things.”

-Zephaniah 3:7 [MSG]

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Filthy Lips

As a mother, I remember the days when my children would eat something and get food all over their faces. I would get out the napkin, wet it and get their faces ready to see the world. Still today I check their faces before we leave just to be sure they are clean. And yes, I check mine as well.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet is standing before God and he immediately acknowledges that he is sinful. He understood that he could not stand before God filthy. God is holy. Then an angel takes a burning coal and touches Isaiah’s lips. The angel says, “Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out” (MSG).

If we accept Jesus and what He did for us, our guilt is gone – our sins are wiped out too. Through the blood of Jesus, we no longer live condemned, but we are made as white as snow. But we have to acknowledge that we are sinful. We have to acknowledge our unclean lips. Even after we repent and accept Christ into our lives, there is a need of daily repentance of our sins. The blood of Jesus wipes out each sin, but for each one, we must bow before the Lord and acknowledge our need for repentance.

“Then I said, ‘It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.” – Isaiah 6:5-6 [NLT]

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Living Proof

John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River when the Pharisees and Sadducees approached. He called them a “brood of vipers” and commanded that they “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 NIV). This reminds me of what For King and Country sing, “Let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.”

The question is when you look at your life from an outsiders vantage point, would there be proof? Are you living proof? The NLT version states it this way: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Proof requires an action. There’s something you must do to prove. The answer is there—by THE WAY you live. What should your life show? Repentance of your sins. Living for God.

There are many people who claim to be Christians but no one would see Christ or anything different about the person. If we are not to be of this world, there should be a difference. A person should be able to point to you and say, “Hey, there’s something different about that person. He’s not like most people. She’s not like the people I usually see.” Why? Because of the fruit. Because of the proof by the way you live. Today would someone look at you and say you are different? Would someone notice?

“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” – Matthew 3:8 [NLT]

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The Tablet

As I prepared for the next lesson I would be teaching, I peered onto my bookshelf in search of other resources to help me study more in depth. I noticed a “tablet” that I was given months ago, almost five months to be exact. My best friend’s mother handed me this “tablet” that said “Holy Bible” on the front, suggesting that I could possibly make good use of it by filling it with notes. When I received the tablet, I paged through it and noted that it was unused. When I was packing my suitcase to leave, I slipped a photograph inside of my son that was taken weeks ago at a tourist attraction so that it would not get bent. Months later, I saw that I had carefully placed this “tablet” on my bookshelf beside the book “The Story of Jesus.”

I pulled this “tablet” off the shelf and contemplated what I would put inside. Maybe I could fill it with some notes. For some reason I paged through the “tablet” this time, and I realized something was different about this “tablet.” It wasn’t a tablet at all. It was a book—a special book that is used by pastors, teachers and speakers. This “tablet” I wanted to fill with notes was already filled with a useful teaching tool. It was not empty, though I had intended to fill it. The way it works is simple. Flip through the booklet holding the bottom, and the pages are blank. Flip through holding the top of the booklet, and the pages look like a brand-new coloring book. Flip through holding the middle and the eyes will meet fully colored pages.

This booklet shows the different stages we can be located at in life. If we see the Bible as meaningless, the pages as good as blank, we haven’t accepted Jesus and may even declare that God does not exist. Our life, as such, is very empty because the void that only God can fill is vacant and we try our hardest to fill it with things that can never work. Then there are the pages without color, but showing us a nice outline. We can choose to color in as we wish. We understand that there is a God. We go to church. We accepted Jesus, but yet there is part of our lives that we are holding back. We truly haven’t given Him our heart. We are on the borderline, wanting to walk forward but not wanting to give up control. Finally, there is the beautifully, colored pages that are full of life and symbolize what God brings to our lives when we accept Jesus into our lives and we walk with Christ.

Here I wanted to fill this “tablet” with notes. Here my friend’s mother did not realize what she was giving me. Sometimes we try to fill the Bible with what we think it says. We use it as a tool for our own good. Sometimes we try to fill the void in our lives with something other than God. And sometimes, we have something right in front of us and we do not realize what it is because we do not take the time.

Today I encourage you to spend time with God and His Word. It is never too late to open your Bible and to pray for the Holy Spirit to help you glean what you personally need to hear at this moment. Whether you know it or not, there is this amazing, sovereign God of the universe who loves you. The thought of that alone colors every one of the pages of my life.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
– 1 John 4:9-12