The Option to NOT Sin

Daily Scripture readings for August, set #8:

Numbers, chapters 18-20
Psalm 55
Matthew 23:25-39
Romans 6:1-14

I noticed an interesting “blessing” for priests in Numbers 18 today. As the Lord describes which parts of the land shall fo to which of Israel’s tribes, he commands that the Levites shall receive none of the land. “And theLord said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel” (vs 20). I wonder if Aaron was bummed about this, or if he was able to see the immense blessing it was for him to be given God himself as his “portion.” I’m also wondering if this section in Numbers is what David was getting at when wrote “the Lord is my portion” (Ps 16:5, etc).

Speaking of David, Psalm 55 contains an important reminder for how we should handle difficult times: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (vs 22). I often try to hunker down and handle my hardships on my own, but David’s advice is to give them to God, whose strength far outweighs mine.

As Jesus continues his condemnation of the pharisees in Matthew 23, he drops an interesting “therefore.” “Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth” (vs 33-35). If I’m following the Jesus’ logic correctly, he’s saying that the Pharisees, in claiming to be “sons of those who murdered the prophets,” are condemning themselves to the same fate as their fathers. THEREFORE, Jesus is going to SEND THEM prophets/wisemen/scribes SO THAT the Pharisees will kill them IN ORDER THAT the Pharisees will have blood on their heads. Am I reading this right?

In Romans 6 we again find the concept of Old Covenant vs New Covenant, or as verse 14 puts it, law vs grace. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Paul is in the process of spelling out the difference between having sin as a master and having righteousness as a master. What’s noteworthy to me is the tension Paul creates between not being a “slave” to sin, and yet encouraging us to not sin. He’s not promising Christians that they’ll never sin again, but is rather telling us that, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we now have the opportunity to NOT sin. This concept definitely turns the “free will” discussion on it’s head.

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