Today you should read: Jeremiah 34
Chapter 34 recounts the events of the final months of Judah’s independence. Jeremiah went to King Zedekiah with a message, despite the fall of Jerusalem, you will not die by the sword (1–4). With such good news, the king calls the people to Jubilee letting slaves go free. Yet, in no time at all, they went back and subjugated their former slaves back to bondage.
Leviticus 25 speaks to how evil all of this was. First, Israelites weren’t supposed to enslave other Israelites. Secondly, Zedekiah called for Jubilee language, so the idea of taking back your former slaves is even more reprehensible. To these actions, the Lord responded in verses 15–16, where God said they had, “profaned my name.”
Generally, every sin profanes the name of God. Every sin says, “My way not God’s way… I know better… I’ll take care of myself… I will be like God.” At its basic level, sin is disagreeing with God about what is good. But also, as I’ve quoted Tim Keller in the past, “Sin always begins with the character assassination of God.” You cannot sin and truthfully declare God’s goodness in the same instant. You cannot worship in spirit and truth and break commandments simultaneously. Loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength cannot occur while also gratifying your addiction to sin. Yet, while we good Christians say “Amen,” sometime in the next few moments we are likely to contradict our ascent through our actions thus proving the old saying, “We are never so clever as in the midst of self-justification.”
Loving God and loving sin are mutually exclusive—it’s a zero-sum game—you cannot do both at the same time. Fortunately, while this tug of war takes place in our heart, mind, and flesh, God has not left us without help. This battle that rages within us reminds me of Romans 7 in which the Apostle Paul shares the same struggle we all face, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Thankfully, God had a plan—Romans 8, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
While our sin defames the name of the Lord, the Holy Spirit living within us glorifies it. Unfortunately, we often feel like the slaves in Jeremiah 34 that are released and recaptured by sin. We don’t have to live that way. The Holy Spirit within us brings freedom (2 Cor. 3:17–18). Not only freedom from the bondage of sin but also freedom for righteousness. In our freedom, God’s name is magnified—He is made famous. So, today, will God be more famous because of your freedom?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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