Day 69

What's in Your Heart?

Wisdom Proverbs 6:30–35
New Testament Mark 14:43–72
Old Testament Leviticus 19:1–20:27


The Nobel Prize winner and most important Russian literary artist of the second half of the twentieth century, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008), who was imprisoned for eight years for criticising Stalin, wrote, ‘The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor through classes, nor through political parties... but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts.’

We are all created in the image of God. Human beings are capable of acts of great love, courage and heroism. Yet, not one of us (apart from Jesus) is without sin. Do you know what’s in your heart?


Proverbs 6:30–35

30 People do not despise a thief if he steals
   to satisfy his hunger when he is starving.
31 Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold,
   though it costs him all the wealth of his house.
32 But a man who commits adultery has no sense;
   whoever does so destroys himself.
33 Blows and disgrace are his lot,
   and his shame will never be wiped away.

34 For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury,
   and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
35 He will not accept any compensation;
   he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.


Your heart and its weakness

All sin breaks God’s law and is therefore serious. But there are gradations of sin. Some sins are far worse than others.

The writer of Proverbs makes this point by using the example of a person who steals because he is starving. Yes, even this is wrong and there is a price to pay (vv.30–31).

But the writer says the consequences of adultery are far more serious. It leads to ‘shame’ (v.33b), ‘jealousy’ (v.34a), ‘revenge’ (v.34b) and to the destruction of lives, particularly the adulterers themselves: ‘Soul-destroying, self-destructive... a reputation ruined for good’ (vv.32–33, MSG).

The writer says, ‘jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge’ (v.34). Human nature has not changed in thousands of years.

There is nothing wrong with sex or money. But there are many temptations that surround them both. Several of the laws in the Old Testament passage for today were developed to put boundaries around them, safeguarding their proper use.


Lord, thank you for the gifts you give us and the boundaries that you have provided for their proper use. Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.

New Testament

Mark 14:43–72

Jesus Arrested

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

Peter Disowns Jesus

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entrance.

69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

72 Immediately the cock crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the cock crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.


Your heart and its results

Sinful human nature led to the death of Jesus. The challenge is to live differently:

  1. Be authentic

    Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He said, ‘The one I kiss is the man’ (v.44a). He went up to Jesus and ‘kissed him’ (v.45).

    In the Greek, the word for hypocrisy is the same word as the word for mask (masks were used in Ancient Greece for acting). On the outside, Judas was wearing a mask of love for Jesus. In reality, he was betraying him to be crucified. The kiss was the ultimate act of hypocrisy.

    Joyce Meyer writes about what she calls the ‘Judas kiss test’ – the test of being betrayed by friends we have loved, respected and trusted. Most people in positions of leadership for any length of time are likely to experience this. You need to ‘forgive the offender and not allow him or her to cause you to fail or delay in doing what God has called you to do’.

  2. Speak the truth

    Because there was no evidence against Jesus they had to rely on false testimony. Yet it appears that many were prepared to testify against him (v.56). Having worked as a barrister I have observed first hand that some are still prepared to give ‘false testimony’ in a court of law.

  3. Fight corruption

    Corrupt judges are still a feature of the world today. They knew, or ought to have known, that Jesus was entirely innocent yet ‘they all condemned him as worthy of death’ (v.64b). It must be terrible to live in a society without the rule of law, where judges cannot be trusted.

  4. Identify with Jesus

    I can sympathise totally with Peter’s denial of Jesus. He was really determined not to do it, yet he failed. I know how weak my own human nature is.

The account of Peter’s denial can only have come from Peter himself – who with extraordinary openness and vulnerability reveals his own weakness and failure.

When Jesus was in serious trouble, ‘Everyone deserted him and fled’ (v.50).

However, Peter is brave and committed enough to make his way ‘right into the courtyard of the High Priest’ (v.54), albeit following at a distance, in sight of Jesus and the trial. I suspect that by this point I would have been with the rest of the disciples – halfway to Galilee!

Yet, there are haunting words about the self-indulgence of the great apostle Peter. While Jesus, his friend and leader, was taken to trial, Peter ‘sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire’ (vv.54,67).

As Peter saw what was happening to Jesus and what he was going to have to suffer, Peter increasingly distanced himself from Jesus (v.54a). Having started in that direction the next step was to deny him. Having set out on a course that involved lying, he ended up saying, ‘I don’t know this man you’re talking about’ (v.71b).

I am sure Peter didn’t intend to go so far when keeping his distance from Jesus, but as it is for all of us, one sin can easily lead to another and, before we realise it, we end up doing things that we deeply regret. When Peter realised what he had done ‘he broke down and wept’ (v.72c).


Lord, thank you for the encouragement that although even the great apostle Peter failed and messed up, you forgave him, restored him, and used him so powerfully. Thank you for your amazing grace.

Old Testament

Leviticus 19:1–20:27

Various Laws

19 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

3 “‘Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.

4 “‘Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.

5 “‘When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. 6 It shall be eaten on the day you sacrifice it or on the next day; anything left over until the third day must be burned up. 7 If any of it is eaten on the third day, it is impure and will not be accepted. 8 Whoever eats it will be held responsible because they have desecrated what is holy to the LORD; they must be cut off from their people.

9 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

11 “‘Do not steal.

“‘Do not lie.

“‘Do not deceive one another.

12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.

13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbour.

“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight.

14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD.

15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favouritism to the great, but judge your neighbour fairly.

16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.

“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbour’s life. I am the LORD.

17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in their guilt.

18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.

19 “‘Keep my decrees.

“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

20 “‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the LORD. 22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the LORD for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.

23 “‘When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.

26 “‘Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it.

“‘Do not practice divination or seek omens.

27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

28 “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

29 “‘Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.

30 “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD.

31 “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

32 “‘Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

35 “‘Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. 36 Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.

37 “‘Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the LORD.’”

Punishments for Sin

20 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.

6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people.

7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.

10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife —with the wife of his neighbour—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.

11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonoured his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

17 “‘If a man marries his sister , the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonoured his sister and will be held responsible.

18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.

19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonour a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonoured his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonoured his brother. They will be childless.

22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24 But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations.

25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26 You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.

27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”


Your heart and God’s law

God wants us to live lives that are pure and clean. We are to reflect who he is and, thereby, point people towards him. This part of Leviticus has been called ‘the holiness code’ – ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy’ (19:2).

Because human nature has a wayward side there is a need for law. As in any society there are civil and criminal laws. Some of these laws are specific and directed at the problems of Ancient Israel. Others are broad and generally applicable to most societies.

The ceremonial laws are now obsolete, the dietary laws having been superseded by Jesus and the sacrifices fulfilled in his death. The civil laws are not necessarily appropriate to other nations. Some were humane, and others severe. They seem to have been necessary for the earlier stages of Israel’s history, but they are not all of permanent or universal validity.

The moral law, as expanded and deepened by Jesus, and as illustrated in the apostolic letters – especially in their positive parallels to the law’s prohibitions – is still in force as a revelation of God’s will for his people.

The moral law is summed up by Jesus as ‘Love the Lord your God… and… love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27). This goes back to our passage for today, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18b). The moral law was that God’s people should be holy (v.2b). The rest of the law instructs us how to love our neighbour as ourselves and how to be holy.

The moral laws applicable to us now would include the laws to protect the poor (v.10), the laws against racial discrimination (for example vv.33–34), as well as the more obvious ones about theft (v.11), fraud and robbery (v.13a) and so on.

There are often important principles that have very real applications today. For example, ‘do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight’ (v.13b) is a challenge to us to pay all our bills on time. There is an increasing tendency to delay the payment of bills until the final reminder. God’s people are called to be different. This is but one tiny example of what it means to be a holy people.

To keep your heart pure, you need to turn away from the things that spoil your life. Among the more obvious sins listed here (vv.3–31) is one about being a ‘dispenser of gossip’ (v.16, AMP) and ‘holding grudges’ (v.18, AMP). Keep confidences and try not to hold anything against anyone. Holding a grudge is like allowing someone else to live rent free in your head.

There are also warnings about the dangers of ‘witchcraft’ (v.26b). Avoid reading horoscopes, consulting psychics, fortune-telling, palm reading, tarot cards and every other kind of occult activity (vv.31). If you have meddled in any of these things, you can be forgiven. Repent and get rid of the things associated with that activity such as books, charms, DVDs and magazines (Acts 19:19).

Another aspect of the law is that it brings sin to light and leads to repentance and reliance on the grace of God. As I read all these laws I see how hard they are to live up to, how far short I fall of God’s standards and how much I need his forgiveness and the help of his Holy Spirit.


Lord, thank you that you died to set us free from the law. Thank you that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Fill me with your Holy Spirit today and help me to live a holy life.

Pippa adds

In Leviticus 19:10 it says, ‘Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien.’

When I was young we lived beside a large apple orchard. We walked through it regularly. At harvest time there would be one major pick of all the apples. After that, any fruit that had fallen or not ripened in time would be collected into large rotting piles.

Letting the poor take the food may not make economic sense, but the biblical principle is that the poor should be provided for and that food should not be wasted.



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Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible, (New York: Faithwords, 2018), p. 1593.

Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Part 1 & 2, (Harper Row, 1974)

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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