“If any member of the community sins unintentionally… when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known…” (Leviticus 4:27-28, NIV).
Sometimes we sin without even realizing it. Maybe as a new believer, we didn’t understand that a certain decision or lifestyle is sinful. Or maybe as a mature Christian, we sin without even thinking about it. Or sometimes, our sin isn’t unintentional. Sometimes even those of us who follow Jesus choose to disobey.
In the sacrificial system laid out in the Book of Leviticus, there is a distinction made between intentional and unintentional sin. What many of us don’t realize, however, is that Leviticus has no sacrifice available for willful, intentional sin. All of the “sin offerings” in Leviticus are for unintentional sin. Thankfully, Christ’s sacrifice is superior to that of bulls and goats, and His blood can even cleanse us from our rebellious hearts!
This phrasing in Leviticus 4, however, is interesting. If someone sins unintentionally, when they realize their guilt, they should come to offer the sin offering. How much unintentional, unrealized sin is in my life? Sin can hinder our relationship with God and our effectiveness in ministry–even sin we’re not aware of!
My prayer for the week is that of David in Psalm 19:
Who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep Your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus once again breaks the rules. This time, He calls Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him, and He even goes to Levi’s house to eat with other tax collectors and sinners. How could Jesus, a good moral teacher, a religious leader, a respectable man associate with “those kinds” of people?
So the first Sunday of March (the 6th), I tried something new with preaching… I had been scheduled to preach from Acts 15:36-16:5. As I studied the passage, I felt like God was telling me to do something a little different. Normally I would preach an exegetical-expository sermon, but this time I decided to try a first-person narrative. In my passage, Barnabas and Paul, the great missionary team, argue and split over whether or not to take John Mark along with them on their second missionary journey. Barnabas takes Mark and goes one way; Paul takes Silas and goes another.
No doubt Mark was pretty upset that they parted company over him. But, God had other plans for Mark. He brought Mark and Peter together, and they ended up in Rome, where many scholars believe Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. He and Paul reconciled in Rome while Paul was imprisoned there, and according to the testimony of some early church fathers, Peter sent Mark to plant a church in Alexandria, Egypt. Mark was likely with both Peter and Paul when they were martyred, and eventually would himself be martyred for preaching the gospel.
What may have seemed like a failure in Mark’s life became an opportunity for God to move people around where He needed them to be so that Mark would be mentored by Peter and eventually write his Gospel. God took a mess and painted an amazing picture with it! In this first-person narrative of Mark’s life, I explore what Mark may have felt in the middle of the controversy, and how God’s resolution of the problem actually turned into a great victory for the Kingdom. I hope it’s helpful to you!