Avoiding Enslavement

  • September 10, 2017
Sunday 10

Romans 6:16-19

A physical prison is built brick by brick. Similarly, a spiritual prison can be erected one sin at a time without a believer noticing. Ensnarement happens slowly, beginning with a thought. Over time, unless the thought is eradicated, contemplation turns to action. With Satan falsely promising happiness as the reward for giving in to temptation, sin gains strength through repetition until our conscience is finally overpowered. One day we discover the devil holds our will in bondage.

But we can avoid spiritual chains. Our first step is to acknowledge two basic truths: All sin enslaves, and bondage begins in the mind. We cannot maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord while indulging sin. When a wrong thought creeps into our consciousness, we have the choice to expel it or to entertain it. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, every believer possesses power to change his or her mind.

A strong antidote to temptation is a long-term view of disobedient behavior. A second step, then, is to ask ourselves, Is the pleasure of this sin worth the consequences of enslavement? Inevitably, the answer is no. What alcoholic would claim that his next drink is worth the powerlessness he feels against the bottle?

Third, we order our life according to Scripture. That is, we make the choice to place ourselves in bondage to the Father because we find true freedom in Him. His Word trains us to recognize sin and excises wrongdoing from our heart. Ask God to speak through the Bible today, and see what He reveals about your life.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 43-45

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16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing toward the east;

2 and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. And His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.

3 And it was like the appearance of the vision which I saw, like the vision which I saw when He came to destroy the city. And the visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face.

4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east.

5 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.

6 Then I heard one speaking to me from the house, while a man was standing beside me.

7 He said to me, Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever. And the house of Israel will not again defile My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their harlotry and by the corpses of their kings when they die,

8 by setting their threshold by My threshold and their door post beside My door post, with only the wall between Me and them. And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger.

9 Now let them put away their harlotry and the corpses of their kings far from Me; and I will dwell among them forever.

10 As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan.

11 If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them.

12 This is the law of the house: its entire area on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

13 And these are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): the base shall be a cubit and the width a cubit, and its border on its edge round about one span; and this shall be the height of the base of the altar.

14 From the base on the ground to the lower ledge shall be two cubits and the width one cubit; and from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge shall be four cubits and the width one cubit.

15 The altar hearth shall be four cubits; and from the altar hearth shall extend upwards four horns.

16 Now the altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve wide, square in its four sides.

17 The ledge shall be fourteen cubits long by fourteen wide in its four sides, the border around it shall be half a cubit and its base shall be a cubit round about; and its steps shall face the east."

18 And He said to me, Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, `These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is built, to offer burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it.

19 You shall give to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who draw near to Me to minister to Me,' declares the Lord GOD, `a young bull for a sin offering.

20 You shall take some of its blood and put it on its four horns and on the four corners of the ledge and on the border round about; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it.

21 You shall also take the bull for the sin offering, and it shall be burned in the appointed place of the house, outside the sanctuary.

22 On the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering, and they shall cleanse the altar as they cleansed it with the bull.

23 When you have finished cleansing it, you shall present a young bull without blemish and a ram without blemish from the flock.

24 You shall present them before the LORD, and the priests shall throw salt on them, and they shall offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD.

25 For seven days you shall prepare daily a goat for a sin offering; also a young bull and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be prepared.

26 For seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it.

27 When they have completed the days, it shall be that on the eighth day and onward, the priests shall offer your burnt offerings on the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,' declares the Lord GOD."

1 Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; and it was shut.

2 The LORD said to me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.

3 As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate and shall go out by the same way."

4 Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD, and I fell on my face.

5 The LORD said to me, Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the LORD and concerning all its laws; and mark well the entrance of the house, with all exits of the sanctuary.

6 You shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, `Thus says the Lord GOD, Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel,

7 when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void-- this in addition to all your abominations.

8 And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary."

9 Thus says the Lord GOD, No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary.

10 But the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity.

11 Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them.

12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them," declares the Lord GOD, that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity.

13 And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they will bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed.

14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service and of all that shall be done in it.

15 But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood," declares the Lord GOD.

16 They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge.

17 It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house.

18 Linen turbans shall be on their heads and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat.

19 When they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.

20 Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads.

21 Nor shall any of the priests drink wine when they enter the inner court.

22 And they shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman but shall take virgins from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.

23 Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

24 In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed feasts and sanctify My sabbaths.

25 They shall not go to a dead person to defile themselves; however, for father, for mother, for son, for daughter, for brother, or for a sister who has not had a husband, they may defile themselves.

26 After he is cleansed, seven days shall elapse for him.

27 On the day that he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering," declares the Lord GOD.

28 And it shall be with regard to an inheritance for them, that I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in Israel--I am their possession.

29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs.

30 The first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house.

31 The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces.

1 And when you divide by lot the land for inheritance, you shall offer an allotment to the LORD, a holy portion of the land; the length shall be the length of 25,000 cubits, and the width shall be 20,000. It shall be holy within all its boundary round about.

2 Out of this there shall be for the holy place a square round about five hundred by five hundred cubits, and fifty cubits for its open space round about.

3 From this area you shall measure a length of 25,000 cubits and a width of 10,000 cubits; and in it shall be the sanctuary, the most holy place.

4 It shall be the holy portion of the land; it shall be for the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the LORD, and it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary.

5 An area 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in width shall be for the Levites, the ministers of the house, and for their possession cities to dwell in.

6 You shall give the city possession of an area 5,000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, alongside the allotment of the holy portion; it shall be for the whole house of Israel.

7 The prince shall have land on either side of the holy allotment and the property of the city, adjacent to the holy allotment and the property of the city, on the west side toward the west and on the east side toward the east, and in length comparable to one of the portions, from the west border to the east border.

8 This shall be his land for a possession in Israel; so My princes shall no longer oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes."

9 Thus says the Lord GOD, Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations from My people," declares the Lord GOD.

10 You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.

11 The ephah and the bath shall be the same quantity, so that the bath will contain a tenth of a homer and the ephah a tenth of a homer; their standard shall be according to the homer.

12 The shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your maneh.

13 This is the offering that you shall offer: a sixth of an ephah from a homer of wheat; a sixth of an ephah from a homer of barley;

14 and the prescribed portion of oil ( namely, the bath of oil), a tenth of a bath from each kor ( which is ten baths or a homer, for ten baths are a homer);

15 and one sheep from each flock of two hundred from the watering places of Israel--for a grain offering, for a burnt offering and for peace offerings, to make atonement for them," declares the Lord GOD.

16 All the people of the land shall give to this offering for the prince in Israel.

17 It shall be the prince's part to provide the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the drink offerings, at the feasts, on the new moons and on the sabbaths, at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel; he shall provide the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering and the peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel."

18 Thus says the Lord GOD, In the first month, on the first of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary.

19 The priest shall take some of the blood from the sin offering and put it on the door posts of the house, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar and on the posts of the gate of the inner court.

20 Thus you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who goes astray or is naive; so you shall make atonement for the house.

21 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

22 On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.

23 During the seven days of the feast he shall provide as a burnt offering to the LORD seven bulls and seven rams without blemish on every day of the seven days, and a male goat daily for a sin offering.

24 He shall provide as a grain offering an ephah with a bull, an ephah with a ram and a hin of oil with an ephah.

25 In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall provide like this, seven days for the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering and the oil."

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Publish Date November 21, 2017
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