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Understanding Sin and Sacrifice

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2018-07-15 AM
  • Sermons


Well as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Table this morning, I want to step away from our study of Romans 8, and I want us to see if we can deepen our understanding of both sin and sacrifice. There is so much we can learn about both of those in one of the least understood books in the Bible; it's in the book of Leviticus. Leviticus, I think you'll agree with me, is the Waterloo of most Christians' intention to read through the Bible. In January, they begin eagerly to read Genesis and the first part of Exodus with all of those compelling narratives and all of that human interest. And then they lose just a little bit of their enthusiasm when they come to the tabernacle instructions in the second half of the book of Exodus. But they come to a screeching halt when they get to Leviticus.

The reason for that I think is pretty simple, and that is that most Christians simply don't understand the book of Leviticus. It seems so foreign, both in time and space from our world, that it seems to really have nothing to contribute to our understanding of the gospel. But that's absolutely not true. So, I want us to turn to the book of Leviticus this morning. We need to start by making sure we understand why it is even here; what is the basic message of the book of Leviticus? It can really be reduced to two points. If you understand these two points, you understand Leviticus.

First of all, in chapters 1 - 17, Moses wants us to see, and ultimately the Holy Spirit Himself Who inspired this book, that: the only way to come to God is sacrifice; the only way to come to God is sacrifice. That is the simple message of chapters 1 - 17. The only way that sinful man, such as we are, can approach a holy God is by pursuing forgiveness through sacrifice.

The second message that's here in the book of Leviticus and really the second half of the book, chapters 18 - 27, is this: the only way to walk with God is sanctification; the only way to walk with God is sanctification or holiness. You see the only way that sinful man, who has come to God through sacrifice, has come to know God through sacrifice, can enjoy fellowship with God, is by pursuing holiness through obedience to God's Word. That's the message of the second half of Leviticus. If you understand those two basic points, you have your arms around this little-understood book.

Now as Moses teaches us the first lesson in the first half of this book, he devotes chapters 1 - 7 to explaining the five offerings or sacrifices that Israelites were to offer to God. There were five sacrifices that are detailed in the first seven chapters. The first three of those sacrifices were voluntary; that is, you were not commanded to offer them on any specific occasion for any specific reason. They were voluntary. They are the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offering. And the peace offering really had three different reasons that you would offer it, three different expressions. But again, those first three are really a different message for different time. The last two of the five sacrifices were mandatory. They were not voluntary. They were commanded, required for all Israelites because they had to do with sin and its forgiveness.

I want to take just a few minutes this morning to reflect on the two mandatory sacrifices and what they teach us about the nature of sin, forgiveness, and ultimately about God Himself.

There's so much for us to learn by reflecting on these two sacrifices, and so let's consider them together.

Let's begin by looking at the sacrifices themselves, the required Old Testament sacrifices specifically for sin. They were required; the only two required of individuals were these two, two sacrifices for sin. They are the sin offering, one of them is called; and the guilt offering, the other is called: the sin offering and the guilt offering. Now both of these had to do with repentance from sin and forgiveness. Let me just show you how they differ and where they're recorded.

The first one: the sin offering, is recorded in the book of Leviticus, beginning in 4:1 and running through 5:13. The sin offering was specifically for sins when restitution was impossible. That's really what distinguished it; for whatever sins where you could not make restitution in showing your repentance. So, where restitution was impossible, that's the sin offering.

The second mandatory offering was: the guilt offering. It's recorded in Leviticus 5:14 - 6:7. This sacrifice, as you might guess, was the opposite. It was specifically for sins committed when restitution was possible, when you could set things right, when you could return what had been stolen, when you could restore relationships, etc. So, you have the sin offering and the guilt offering.

Now both of these sacrifices covered two categories of sin, two categories of sin. First of all, they covered sins of what we could call "commission". That is when we do what God forbids us from doing. God says, "You shall not!" and we do. Now I am not going to look at all of the passages that deal with this; I've detailed them for you there; sins of commission are dealt with under the sin offering in 4:1 - 35, and then, same kind of sin dealt with in the guilt offering in verse 17 of chapter 5.

So, let's just look at a couple of representatives. Go back to Leviticus and look specifically at Leviticus 4:1; Leviticus 4:1:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If a person sins unintentionally [Now, I know that's an important word; we're going to come back to that word; but for now, just kind of read over it.] If a person sins unintentionally [Now watch this.] in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them.'"

Alright, so obviously the sin offering is for sins of commission, when you do what God has forbidden. The same thing is true of the guilt offering. Go over to 5:17, "Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment." So again, both offerings, then, cover sins of commission, when the sinner does what God forbids. But both offerings also cover the opposite of that; sins we could call of omission, failing to do what God commands. Again there are a number of passages that I can illustrate this from; let me just give you two examples.

Look at Leviticus 5:1, and here we see that the sin offering, the first of the two, covers sins of omission, when we fail to do what God has commanded. Chapter 5:1, "Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration [that is a public charge] to testify when he is a witness, whether he is seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt." Here clearly, you don't have somebody doing what God forbids, but rather, you have someone failing to do what God has commanded. In this case, failing to testify. They've been charged; they been told, "Listen, if you have testimony that pertains to this case, the judge would say, 'You need to step forward.'" They know the law required them to do that and they failed to do it, so this is a sin of omission.

Same sort of sin is covered in the guilt offering. Turn to chapter 5; 5:15.

"If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally [Again, we'll come back to that word.] against the LORD's holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD, [And then it describes what he is to offer. Verse 16] He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, [He] shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him."

What's going on here? Well, we're not told specifically what the sin is, but we are told this, here is a person who has failed to do what the law prescribes concerning God and His worship at the temple, His holy things. Again, it's not that he is doing what God forbids; it's that he's failing to do what God requires. Now why do I belabor that? I think it's so important that we understand that what the Law here is teaching us is that we are guilty before God, both when we do what He forbids and when we fail to do what He commands.

You know, a lot of people think pretty highly of themselves; they don't think they really need Christ; they don't really need the gospel because, "I'm a pretty good person. You know, there are a lot of things I don't do." Well, God does find us guilty for doing the things that He forbids, but He also finds us guilty for failing to do what He commands. So how are you doing with perfect love for God? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength." How are you doing with, "Love your neighbor as yourself?" That's the standard and both are true.

Now, this is also important because I think, when Christians tend to think about sanctification, they focus on trying to stop certain sins, and that's really important; that's crucial; that's commanded as well. But it doesn't stop there; sanctification doesn't stop with stopping certain sins; and if that is the entire focus of your pursuit of sanctification, if you're spending all of your energies just trying to stop certain sins, then you are only thinking about half of sanctification. Because the ultimate goal is that God demands we would be like Him.

In fact, turn over to Leviticus 11; God couldn't be any clearer as He describes this. Leviticus 11:44, "For I am … [Yahweh] your God. Consecrate yourselves [Set yourselves apart.] therefore, and be holy, [Why?] for I am holy." Verse 45, "For I am … [Yahweh] who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; [I redeemed you; I'm your God.] thus you shall be holy, for I am holy." There's the standard. Is this how you think about your battle with sin, or is it just trying to get rid of a couple of troublesome sins in your life? No! That's crucial, but that's only a part of the story. The rest of the story is, by God's grace, pursuing likeness to God, our Creator and Redeemer.

You see this same message throughout Leviticus. Go over to 19:1:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy … [because] I … [Yahweh] your God am holy.'"

"Be like Me," God says, that's the standard. So, don't just stop doing what God forbids; start doing what God commands.

But the sacrifices, and this is the point I want you to get, is the sacrifices, both of them, covered both of these categories of sin, both sins of commission and sins of omission. In addition, these two sacrifices cover two kinds of guilt, two kinds of guilt. They covered, both of them, sins that were committed ignorantly or negligently, ignorantly or negligently.

Let me just show you this same word is used in both sacrifices. The word we skipped a moment ago, go back to Leviticus 4:2, "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'If … [any] person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them," so there's that word, and it occurs throughout this section. Go over to chapter 5, and you see that the same word is used with the guilt offering. Chapter 5:15, "If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the LORD's holy things," so forth. And it goes on to say he's to make a sacrifice, go to verse 17, "Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, [Watch this; this has a different idea.] though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment," but he's to bring the sacrifice, the end of verse 18:

So, the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it will be forgiven him. It is a guilt offering. He was certainly guilty before the LORD.

Now this word "unintentionally" is a really important word. The Hebrew word literally means "to err, to go astray, to wander". In fact, R. Laird Harris, in his commentary on this section, says, "The sense of the verb is that he goes astray in sin, or he does wrong. It doesn't always mean he is unaware, although at times as you saw that phrase is added, but sometimes he is unaware."

MacArthur puts it this way, this word means, "to stray into a sinful situation, but not necessarily to be taken by surprise, that's where negligence comes in." Sometimes it's because of ignorance of the law. Sometimes it's because of our own negligence. We didn't plan, we didn't premeditate because we were careless, because we put ourselves in the place of temptation and sin, we chose to sin.

Now notice though that both ignorance and negligence aren't excuses. They still produce real guilt before God that needed a sacrifice for God to forgive His people. Look at verse 19 again, "It is a guilt offering; He was certainly guilty before the Lord." Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. Ignorance of your sin is no excuse. It produces real guilt. You and I are guilty when we know we've sinned, and we are guilty when we don't have a clue that we have sinned. And the sacrifices covered both sins of negligence and sins of ignorance.

But secondly, there's another kind of guilt that the sacrifices both covered, and that is: sins committed deliberately, sins committed deliberately. Now think about this for a moment; let's be honest with ourselves; there are times when we sin in ignorance. We sin, and we don't even know we sinned. Sometimes we'll say something and unintentionally hurt another person with our words. Sometimes we'll be completely unaware of what God has commanded, and we don't do it. Other times, we sin in negligence. We know what God requires, what He demands, but we're not careful, we're careless. We put ourselves in situations where we fall and we stray into sin. We fall into sin. But let's also be honest that there are still other times when we deliberately choose to sin. We know what God requires. We know we're faced with a choice, and we choose sin. That's deliberate sin.

The sin offering and the guilt offering both covered deliberate sin. Let me show you, go back to Leviticus 5:1, "Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt." Okay, here is what we just talked about. Here is a requirement, a command to testify, and the person refuses. The sin (what I want you to see, is the sin, in this case), is a deliberate failure to do what he knows God's Law required. He's just heard the judge say, "If anyone has testimony, he's required to bring it forward," and he fails to do it. So, this isn't like accidental; this is not unintentional; this is a conscious choice of disobedience.

The same thing is true when it comes to sins dealt with by the guilt offering. Go over to 6:1,

[Now] … the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, [Now watch the kind of sins here that are covered by the guilt offering. He] … deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things [that] a man may do."

So, understand here, we have a list of sins: lying, stealing, cheating, and false swearing are not accidental sins. Anybody here accidentally robbed anyone lately? No, of course not! These are intentional sins, but they were covered by the guilt offering.

Now I make this point because there are some people who see that word "unintentional" throughout this section, and they will say something like this, "There were no sacrifices under the Old Testament Law for intentional sins, only for sins of ignorance or accident." Thank God that's not true!

In fact, look back at chapter 5. He begins 5:1 with this intentional withholding of evidence that a person has, and that's going to have an effect, by the way, right, on the outcome of the trial and for that person? He's sinning against the Lord and that person. Then he goes on to describe some other sins, but then he says this in verse 5:

So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, [including deliberate sin, verse 1] that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So, the priest shall make atonement on … behalf … [of] his sin.

There was sacrifice and forgiveness for deliberate sin.

What I want you to see is … both the sin offering and the guilt offering covered sins of both co-mission and omission and sins, whether committed negligently or ignorantly, as well as even those committed deliberately. Now this is so important for us to understand; because just as with the Old Testament sacrifices, there is forgiveness for us through the sacrifice of Christ; both when we fail to do what God commands, and when we do what God forbids, and whether we do those things at times negligently or ignorantly or even as I said at times deliberately. Both Old Testament sacrifices for sin could be offered for all kinds of guilt.

But that invites a crucial question. Under the Old Testament Law, was there a sin for which there was no sacrifice; was there a sin for which there was no sacrifice? The answer is yes, there was, not a specific sin, but a kind of sin.

So, let's consider secondly: the unforgivable sin. We've seen the two sacrifices that cover a wide range of guilt, but what about the unforgivable sin? I want you to leave Leviticus for a moment and go to Numbers 15; Numbers 15, beginning in verse 27. Moses here is reiterating and sort of embellishing, he is strengthening, further explaining all that was taught in the book of Leviticus. And he says in verse 27, "Also, if one person sins unintentionally, [Here's that same word, same kind of sin.] then [he's to] … offer a … [sacrifice.]" There's sacrifice for the one who sins unintentionally. Verse 29, and this is true whether he's a native Israelite or whether he is someone who sojourns there. So, there is sacrifice for the one who sins intentionally.

(Verse 30): But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is a native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; … that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD; [he's] broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; [and] his guilt will be on him.

Now, look at that word "defiantly", verse 30, "defiantly"; the Hebrew expression that is translated "defiantly" here is literally "with a high hand". It's a powerful word picture isn't it? "Who sins against God with a high hand?" Now notice how Moses defines a high-handed sin, verse 30. It doesn't matter what the sin is; he says, "the person who does," and I think the translators are right here to add the word "anything", "who does anything defiantly … that one is blaspheming the LORD." Wow! This is a huge issue, "blaspheming the Lord," how? Verse 31, "he has despised the Word of the Lord." He has held God's Word in contempt, how? Verse 31, "he has broken His commandment." And here's the outcome, verse 31 says, "his guilt will be on him." In other words, his guilt is going to cling to him. The idea is there is no sacrifice in the Old Testament system for high-handed sin. Wow!

What is high-handed sin? Well, there are a couple of forms, and you need to see both of them because this is so important. First of all, there is open unrepentant defiance, open unrepentant defiance. You say, "What does that look like?" Well the next paragraph here in Numbers 15 makes that clear. Almost all commentators agree that this next paragraph is an illustration of a high-handed sin so let's look at it. Verse 32:

Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." So, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Wow! How serious can it be to pick up firewood on the Sabbath? How is that a high-handed sin? Listen carefully; this is the key; what defines a high-handed sin is not the sin itself, but the heart and attitude of the sinner; what defines a high-handed sin is not the sin itself, in this case, picking up firewood on the Sabbath. The issue was the heart of defiance against the Word of God. He knew that God had forbidden it, and he didn't care. He was defiant.

You say what does an open unrepentant defiance look like? Let me give you a reference; I'm not going to turn you there because of the time, but Deuteronomy 29:19 and 20. Here's a picture of open defiance, "It shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, 'I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart….'" [I'm going to be just fine, thank you. I'm going to do what I want to do; I don't really care. LORD God takes open unrepentant defiance very seriously.]

But that isn't the only form; there's another form of this unforgivable sin, not only open unrepentant defiance, but let's call it cloaked unrepentant defiance. And a wonderful example of this is 1 Samuel. Turn to 1 Samuel 15. It's the story of Saul, 1 Samuel 15. You remember the story, God assigned Saul the task of going and destroying the Amalekites and everything connected to them, but verse 9 says, "… Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, … [they] were not willing to destroy them utterly; but [They, of course, destroyed all the stuff that they thought was] worthless." So, there's a confrontation coming. Verse 19, go back to verse 17:

Samuel said, "Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel, … [He] sent you on a mission, [He] said, 'Go … utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.' Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but [Here Samuel gets to the heart.] but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?" [Verse 20,] Then Saul said to Samuel, [Now, I want you to watch this.] "I did obey the voice of the LORD, and I went on the mission which the LORD sent me, and … [I] brought back Agag, the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites."

What's he doing? Here is, as we'll see a moment, defiance of another kind. This is a spiritually cloaked defiance. "I love God; I have a closer relationship with Jesus than I ever have, even though I'm walking in disobedience. And he excuses his sin, verse 21, "But the people took some of the spoil." It's their fault; it's somebody else's fault; it wasn't my choice. Of course, we saw in verse 9 that's not true. They took some of the choicest things to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal. Then it's spiritual; God wants me to be happy.

Look at Samuel's response, verse 22:

Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams." [Now watch what he says next; he says, "Saul, what's going on here is rebellion," pure and simple, you are rebelling, and it says,] "the sin of [witchcraft.] And insubordination [against God; it's] … as iniquity and idolatry. … you have rejected the word of the LORD. [And so,] He has also rejected you from being king."

What I want you to see is that a defiant heart, a rebellious defiant heart can cloak itself; it can disguise itself as spiritual, and say, "I'm keeping the Bible; I'm keeping God's Word." How does that happen? It just redefines and distorts and shapes; the Pharisees did this, right? In the New Testament, Jesus again and again confronts the Pharisees who cloaked their defiance of God's Word in spiritual terms as well. They distorted; they reinterpreted Scripture to justify their disobedience; all the time, presenting themselves as right with God, profoundly spiritual. This is also defiance; it is just cloaked. I encourage you; don't be naïve; don't think that the only defiance against God is the person who rejects God and holds up his fist. This too is rebellion and insubordination and a despising of the Word of God.

Now, under Old Testament Law, terrible sins could be forgiven. So, why was there no sacrifice for high-handed defiant sin? Listen carefully, it's because God will not forgive anyone as long as that person is living in rebellion against His Word. Now, this is why, by the way, public church discipline, which we do because Jesus commanded it in Matthew 18; and by the way, you can relax; we're not doing that this morning. But I want you to understand; we don't have an option. Jesus commands us in Matthew 18 a process that we're to follow. So, if we don't, we're disobeying Christ. But why does public church discipline happen the way it happens? It's because it's not determined, listen carefully, it's not determined, public church discipline, when it goes to the church, it's not determined by the amount of sin or even the seriousness of the sin, but by the response of the sinner to God and His Word.

Sometimes people will have a question, and I understand that. Maybe you've had a question. Why is one person's sin told to the church per Matthew 18, and another person who's also sinned, their sin is not told to the church? I think usually the confusion comes when that person is trying to somehow weigh and compare the amount of sin or the seriousness of the sin involved. Folks, that is not the issue, just as it wasn't in the sacrificial system. Here's the issue; when a professing Christian is willing to confess his sin, however bad that sin may be, when he's willing to seek God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of those he has sinned against, and he makes real efforts to manifest repentance, he is never, according to Matthew 18, and even according to the sacrificial system the Old Testament, he is never to be publicly disciplined regardless of how bad his sin is. Instead, the final steps of church discipline are reserved for those who remain defiant against God and His Word. Those who refuse to repent of their sin, whatever it is, whether their sin is open, fist-raised, unrepentant defiance against God or whether it is like Saul, cloaked beneath spiritual words and spiritual language, and, "Yes, I've obeyed God's Word; I've redefined it; and I've reinterpreted it."

But let me say, if you're here this morning, and you have been living in open or cloaked defiance of God and His Word, I have really good news for you. If you are willing, even this morning, to turn from that defiance, if you're willing to humble yourself before God, there is no sin He will not forgive. It comes down to this, the only unforgivable sin is unrepentant defiance; that's the sin for which there is no sacrifice, but there is a sacrifice for every other kind. So, I plead with you; humble yourself before God; He will forgive if you will humble and repent and seek His forgiveness. So, there were no sacrifices for unrepentant sins of defiance in the Old Testament Law, but there were two mandatory sacrifices for repentant sin of every conceivable kind.

Now, what did those sacrifices accomplish? I want you to notice, thirdly: the results of sacrifice. The early chapters of Leviticus explain that there were two primary results of the sacrifices for sin. First of all: God's justice was satisfied. One of the foundational lessons of the sacrificial system was that the offerings were not primarily for the worshiper, but were for God. When the sacrifice was killed, you know that every one of the sacrifices required certain parts of the animal to be burned. When those parts were consumed by fire on the altar, twenty-seven times in the Old Testament Law, it says this, that that smoke ascending up from that fire from the sacrifice, "was a soothing aroma to the Lord."

Let me show you just one example, look at Leviticus 4:31, when the sin offering is offered, "the priest shall offer it up in smoke on the altar." And what happens? It becomes "a soothing aroma to the LORD." What is that saying? The basic lesson here is that sin cannot be forgiven until God's justice has been completely satisfied. Think about that for a moment. God can't forgive a single one of your sins until His justice has been satisfied. The good news is: that happened through sacrifice; that's the point of this passage.

There's a second basic result of the Old Testament sacrifices for sins, and it was this: the sinner's guilt was forgiven; it was forgiven. Moses says this is the result again and again and again. In the interest of time, look again at 4:31. Look how it ends, "Thus the priest shall make atonement." By the way, I love that word "atonement". It comes from the Hebrew word "kaphar". It means "to cover over". It's a word picture; it says when the blood was shed of that innocent animal, it covered over the sin of the sinner; it shielded it forever from the eyes of God; He simply couldn't see it, covered. But he goes on to say in verse 31, and "the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be [he will be] forgiven." There was assurance of forgiveness; don't miss the great encouragement here for us. Through the sacrificial system that He Himself created, God provided a way for His justice to be fully satisfied and for our guilt to be completely forgiven. But how was it that the individual sinner came to benefit from these two offerings for sin?

I want you to consider, lastly: the means of forgiveness, the means of forgiveness. You see, forgiveness wasn't automatic simply by the act of sacrifice. There were people who offered sacrifices that the prophet said, "You aren't forgiven. God didn't take them. He wasn't receiving them." So how do you enjoy the benefit of sacrifice? Well, the early chapters of Leviticus tell us exactly what was required then; and by the way, let me say the reason I'm sharing this with you; it's still what's required now for there to be forgiveness. Let's look at them together.

First of all, there must be genuine confession of sin. Look at 5:5, "So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned." You have got to own your sin. You have got to stop blaming everybody else; you have got to stop blaming your parents, your spouse, your environment, your computer, you have got to take the full responsibility and confess it, "Lord," like David did, "it's me, and it's who I am; it's who I've been since birth and since conception. I take the full responsibility." You confess your sins. That's true when you first come to God through Christ, and it's true as a believer according to 1 John 1:9 in an ongoing way, we have to confess our sin. Genuine confession, own it! Tell God it's your fault and name it.

Secondly, there has to be genuine repentance from sin, genuine repentance. Turn over to chapter 6; it says the LORD spoke to Moses saying, "When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD," and then it lists those sins we've talked about there in verses 2 and 3. Verse 4:

Then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, (Here's what he has to do. If restitution is possible, then that has to happen.) that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add … (20% interest) add one-fifth more [to it. And] He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering.

And then, verse 6, he can offer his sacrifice; the priest will make atonement for him; Verse 7, "before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of the things which he may have done to incur guilt." The point is this; whenever restitution is possible, in other words, whenever you have sinned against a person, then you have to manifest your true repentant heart by making restitution above and beyond. If you have sinned against, for example, your spouse, it's not enough to say, "I'm sorry." There has to be real manifest fruit of repentance where you are attempting to make restitution for the sin that you have committed against your spouse. Repentance, that's what repentance looks like. So, there has to be genuine confession, and there needs to be genuine repentance, and that often involves, it always involves when people are at stake, restitution.

Thirdly, there must be a substitutionary sacrifice for sin. That's the point of this whole section. The animal sacrifices were always substitutionary. In fact, in Leviticus 1 to 7, the one thing about the worshiper's relationship to the sacrifice stands out, and that is that that sacrifice was offered in his place. The worshiper brought the sacrifice to the tabernacle or to the temple and then he did this, and this is commanded both in the sin and the guilt offering, he placed his hands on the head of that animal. What was he doing? Well, there's possibly confessing his sins, he was picturing the transference of his guilt to that animal. At the very least, he was doing this, he was saying, "This animal now stands in my place." It represented him; it stood in his place. You know what happened next? You put your hands on the head of that animal; you made it your representative; and then, and this is where some of you would've gotten off the train, the priest handed you the knife, and you slit its throat and took its life. The whole thing was to picture that that animal was dying in your place as your substitute.

But here's one of the great riddles of the Old Testament. How could God be just and accept the death of an animal as the substitute for the death of a guilty sinner? And the answer is, He never did. Not one time did God ever accept the blood of an animal as a substitute for the death of the guilty sinner.

Listen to Hebrews 10:4, "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Do you see the problem? Leviticus tells us the only way that sinful man can approach holy God is through sacrifice, and the prescribed sacrifices were animal sacrifices, but it was impossible for those animal sacrifices to deal with sin, to satisfy the justice of God. So, how could God forgive them, and how can God forgive us?

I want you to turn to Isaiah 53, the Scripture reading from the morning. There's a verse here that makes it very clear [there are a lot of verses that make it clear], but I want to show you one in particular because it's crystal clear in light of what we're discussing this morning. Isaiah 53:10, "But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, [That is the Messiah.] putting Him to grief; [Now watch the second part of verse 10.] If [the Messiah will] … render Himself [What?] as a guilt offering." You see, not one animal ever slain took away one human sin. They were merely pictures of the only One who could, Jesus Christ our Lord.

He became our guilt offering. In His death, He bore the guilt of all of the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Him. Sins of ignorance, sins of negligence, deliberate sins, and that forgiveness becomes ours when we confess our sins, when we turn in a spirit of repentance toward God, and when we in faith, as it were, lay our hands on the head of Jesus Christ as our substitute as the only way that our sins can be forgiven. Because of our true guilt offering, God's justice was completely and finally and forever satisfied, and God can now say to us definitively as He said to the Old Testament believer, "And his sins will be forgiven." It's the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord as our guilt offering that we celebrate in the Lord's Table. Take a moment and prepare your hearts as the men come.

Our Father, we bless you that there is a Redeemer, Jesus, God's Own Son. We thank you, Father, that in Him, You have made atonement for our sin. You have forever shielded our sin from Your eyes, buried beneath the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We thank you, Father, that He became our guilt offering. We thank you that in so doing, Your justice was completely satisfied, and You can now fully, completely, finally, forgive us for every sin of which we are willing to repent.

As we come to the Lord's Table to remember His death on our behalf, to remember His sacrifice, Father, we come confessing our sins. You demand genuine confession. We bring it to you. Lord, we don't shield ourselves. We take full responsibility, full blame. We stop blaming everyone else like Saul did. We stop excusing our sin, distorting the Scripture to justify ourselves. Father, we lay down our defiance. We humble ourselves before You, and say, "You would be justified to do whatever You chose to us, but we plead Your mercy and grace in Christ." Forgive us and prepare our hearts to remember His sacrifice, His guilt offering for us.

We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.