Repairing Sin’s Damage to Your Life
A Pocket Paper
There was a story in the
newspaper this week about the woman who started the terrible wildfires that
ravaged parts of
This week she gave her first interview, and in it she begged forgiveness from those who had lost homes. “I can’t give them back what they lost,” she said. “I know how it feels because I lost, too. All I can say is I’m sorry. I know it’s a healing process for them as it is for me. I just hope and pray they can forgive me. To live without forgiveness is a miserable thing.”
Well, she got that right. To live without forgiveness is a miserable thing. When we do things that are harmful to God, to ourselves, and to other people, we feel badly about it. Sin creates guilt, guilt creates shame, and shame damages the way we view ourselves. It’s a miserable thing to live in that endless spin cycle of sin, guilt, shame, and lowered self-esteem. That’s the way most people live.
· That’s why there are so many counselors in the world today.
· That’s why there are so many self-help books.
· That’s why there are so many therapy groups.
· That’s why there is so much substance abuse.
· That’s why the entertainment industry is such a dominate part of our world today.
But what we really need is forgiveness—an inner feeling of cleanness and wholeness—and that’s what Jesus Christ came to provide. If you want to know how He forgives sin, you can turn to any book of the New Testament, or you can turn to any book of the Old Testament. It’s the message of the whole Bible—and it’s even the message of the most avoided book in the Old Testament, which is Leviticus. In our current series of messages, we have turned to this underestimated book, and I want to share with you what we have discovered so far.
The book of Leviticus opens by
presenting the five different sacrifices or offerings that God prescribed for
the Tabernacle altar. Each of
them point to Jesus Christ. There
is no question or doubt about that.
The book of Hebrews confirms it.
Furthermore, each of the five great sacrifices of
Leviticus 1 describes the Burnt Offering. Verse 3 says: If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord... The key words are in verse 9: And the priest shall burn all on the altar. The distinguishing factor of the Burnt Offering is that it was totally consumed on the altar. This represents the totality of our Lord’s sacrifice.
Leviticus 2 tells us about the Grain Offering. Leviticus 2:1 begins: When anyone offers a grain offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. This was no shedding of blood with this sacrifice. It was a grain offering, a vegetarian offering as it were. It represented, not the death of Christ, but His sinless life. It represented the nature and character of His life that was sacrificed for us. He was the Bread of Life made from fine flour. It represented His perfect humanity.
Last week we looked at Leviticus 3, which tells us about the Peace Offering. Verse 1 says: When his offering is a sacrifice of a peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord…. In observing the Peace Offering, the worshipper had the animal slain, its blood was sprinkled on the altar, the fat was burned, and the rest was used for food. It was a festive meal. The sprinkled blood represented the peace we now have with God through the blood of our Lord, and the festival meal represents the peace we have with His family, His body. The key word here is tranquility. The total sacrifice of our Lord’s perfect humanity brings divine tranquility into our hearts and minds. We have peace with God, peace with others, and peace with ourselves. As Ephesians 2 puts it: “He Himself is our Peace.”
Now this morning I want to deal with the last couple of sacrifices. Leviticus 4 gives us the fourth sacrifice and Leviticus 5 gives us the fifth one, and they are very similar. That’s why I’m combining them into one message.
The Sin Offering
Leviticus 4 is about the sin offering. Let’s read a few verses from this chapter together.
Verse 1ff: Now the Lord spoke to Moses saying,
“Speak to the children of
Then verse 3 continues the thought: If the appointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering…
Verse 13ff: If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which should not be done, and are guilty; when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin, and bring it before the tabernacle of meeting. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord. Then the bull shall be killed before the Lord.
Verse 22ff: When a ruler has sinned, and done something unintentional against any of the commandments of the Lord his God in anything which should not be done, or is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a male without blemish. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it at the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord. It is a sin offering.
Verse 27ff: If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commands of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.
The key phrase here is: “If anyone sins.” There is an interesting word that keeps occurring and that word is unintentional. We’re sinners by nature and by choice. This sacrifice was especially for those who sinned by nature, that is, they just sinned because it is in our nature to sin. It wasn’t that we deliberately sinned out of sheer willful rebellion. In that case, when we come to repentance we have to throw ourselves on the infinite mercy of God. But this sacrifice was for the sins we commit just because we are fallible, sinful human beings. As you saw it was divided into categories. If the priest sins… if the congregation sins… if the ruler sins… if anyone from the common people sin….
What were they to do? They were to bring an animal to the Tabernacle altar and place their hand on the head of that animal. The animal was then to be slain and its blood shed. What was the significance of placing their hand on the head of the animal? It conveyed the idea of transference. God created a method of dealing with sin that allows the guilt of the sinful person to be transferred onto the head of an innocent victim.
Isaiah 53 says: Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
What do you do with guilt? Every one of us feels badly over things we’ve done in the past. If we could live our lives over again, we’d do things differently. But we can’t. There’s no “R” on the gearshift of life. We can’t go back; we can’t go in reverse. We can only go forward. So what do we do with the debris of yesterday’s sins?
We have to do some
pushing. Some people push their
guilt on others and blame others for their problems and failures. Some people push their guilt downward,
beneath the surface of their heart where it festers and poisons. But the only effective thing to do is
to push yours sins over onto the flayed shoulders of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Transfer them to
Him. How? By confession. By trusting His finished work on
This sin offering was pointing toward Christ’s work on the Cross.
Hebrews 10 says: And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
And there we have the key to this offering. Because Jesus bore our sins and all our guilt was transferred to Him by grace, God has developed a holy amnesia about our sins. Now in the most literal sense, this does not mean that God intellectually forgets our sins, because God is omniscient. But He forgets them in a judicial sense because Christ Himself on the cross bore the penalty for our sins.
And that’s the key word: Penalty. The Burnt offering tells us of the totality of Christ’s sacrifice, and the Grain Offering tells of the humanity that was offered. And if the Peace Offering tells of the tranquility that it brings, the Sin Offering tells us of the penalty Christ bore for you and me. Our guilt was transferred to Him.
The Trespass Offering
That leads to the final offering that was laid on the Tabernacle altar in Leviticus – the Trespass Offering, which is described for us in Leviticus 5 and 6. This offering is very similar to the Sin Offering except that it seems to stress not just the sin, but the damage sin has done to ourselves and to others.
For example, look at verse 16: …and he (the sinner who is offering this sacrifice) shall make restitution for the harm he has done.
The key thought here is that Christ is the remedy for sin. He has a way of healing. He has a way of restoring.
One of the best illustrations
I’ve ever read on this subject comes from the story of a missionary
named Ruby Scott in her autobiography, Jungle
Harvest. She was a missionary
and Bible translator among an isolated tribe in the jungles of southern
The growth of the church was a
threat to the local witch doctor, a man named Lencho. He was reported to be the most
powerful witch doctor in the area, and he openly vowed to destroy the growing
Christian testimony in the
The church knew that a great satanic attack was coming, so they memorized verses that emphasized the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile the witchdoctor was planning an elaborate trap for Rosendo. The whole story is too complicated and lengthy to fully relate, but the long-and-short of the story is this:
Rosendo, who had previously been enslaved by alcohol, was lured into a tangled, carefully-planned web in which he found himself in a wild drinking spree with Mexicans whom he considered to be his superiors and supervisors. Hour after hour, he refused to drink, and some time later the whole village was startled to see him stagger into town drunk. With him was the witchdoctor, pleased with the success of his plan and making fun of poor Rosendo. The Christians became the laughing stock of the village.
On Sunday, the church gathered in a somber mood. Every one of them had been ridiculed and laughed at; and, and Rosendo, who had brought reproach on the entire congregation was not present. The church tried singing a few hymns, but suddenly to everyone’s surprise, Rosendo appeared from the jungle path and stepped into the building. All eyes were on him, and as the congregational hymn ended, he motioned that he wanted to speak.
He stood up, his eyes focused on the ground, and in a clear, concise way told exactly what had happened. He gave the full story, but he did not minimize what he had done or try to excuse himself. When he finished, he quoted 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He told the silenced crowd that he had sinned and brought ridicule on the entire church and on the name of the Lord Himself. He said that he had earnestly confessed his sin to the Lord and sought forgiveness. And he ended by saying, “I have not only brought shame to our Lord, but to you, too. All of you have been ridiculed and taunted because of what I did. I’m sorry. I don’t know if you want to forgive me or not.”
Then he sat down and put his face in his hands.
There was silence for a few moments, and then a man named Felix stood up and asked a question that seemed out of place. He said, “Remember a few weeks ago when it rained three days without letting up?”
But Felix continued: “That rain left a huge mud puddle in our front yard. Several times Elpidio (his little boy) dashed out the door to play in the muddy water. ‘Elpidio,’ I called him, ‘get away from that mud.’ But after several attempts, he finally made his way to the puddle. Suddenly I heard an awful SPLAT and a cry. Elpidio was face down in the mud.
“Now friends,” Felix continued, “What do you think I said? Do you think I just stood there rubbing my hands together and said, ‘Well, I told you. Now it’s your problem!’ No, of course not. Elpidio is my little son and I love him. I hurried to him, picked him up, wiped the mud from his face, and held him until he quit crying.
“Friends, our brother Rosendo has fallen on his face in the mud! We have a Heavenly Father who loves him, has helped him up, and wiped the mud off him. He will hold him close and love him until the pain and embarrassment goes away. All of us have felt the splat of Rosendo’s fall. We have been laughed at—and it hurt. But our Lord suffered a much deeper hurt for the things we have done than we will ever suffer because of what Rosendo did. Rosendo has confessed his sin, and the Lord has forgiven him. Now he is asking us to forgive him, too.”
Felix paused for a long minute and looked around as if thinking about what to do. Then, in a quiet voice, he said, “Let’s take a vote. All who want to forgive Rosendo and pray for him, put up your hand.”
A moment later, Felix stepped over and touched Rosendo’s shoulder and whispered to him. Looking up, Rosendo saw that the whole room had become a sea of hands. Another member stood up quietly and began singing “How Great Thou Art” and the whole congregation sang.
And when I think that God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
The net result: The church in the
Jesus is our Burnt Offering: He offered Himself in totality.
He is our Grain Offering: He offered His perfect humanity.
He is our Peace Offering: He offered Himself for our tranquility.
He is our Sin Offering: He offered to bear our penalty.
He is our Trespass Offering: He offered Himself as sin’s remedy.
It’s a miserable thing to live without forgiveness. But, oh! The liberating joy of being able to sing:
…that on the cross, our burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away our sin.
Fire Starter Praying for Forgiveness,” posted 3:45 PM MDT on
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