Leviticus 1-4, Psalm 30
It seems like sin looks so much worse on others than ourselves. It has been said that we tend to judge others by their worst actions, yet we judge ourselves by our best intentions. This is true both inside and outside the church. It is easy to be critical of others’ sinful behavior, especially when they are unrepentant. At Gay Pride parades, there is no shortage of those who disagree, holding up banners like, “It is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”. Others hold banners with verses like Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Though none in the church should debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not, there seems to be a shortage of love and grace extended. When a sinner repents, no matter what the sin, they are generally welcomed with open arms within the church. But once in the fold, when sin occurs, once again there is often a shortage of grace. It has been said that nearly 25% of those having abortions at Planned Parenthood claim to be Evangelical Christians. This should not be. But I also wonder how that pregnant teenager would be welcomed as her abdomen began to grow. Would she be shunned by the other girls? Would the parents of the boys at the church want their sons to have nothing to do with her? We like to make a hierarchy of sins, usually putting our own as not as bad. But we should never forget that God hates pride, lying, lust, greed, etc.
We see the seriousness of sin in Leviticus 4, and how seriously God considers it. It’s important to realize that the penalty for intentional sin was much more severe than the prescription given here for unintentional sin. We see in Leviticus 4:2-3, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought to be done, and does any of them, if the anointed 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.” We see a similar recipe in Leviticus 4:13 if it is the whole congregation that unintentionally sins; in 4:22, if it is the ruler that has unintentionally sinned; and in 4:27 if anyone of the common people unintentionally sinned. The repentant sinner had to take a defenseless animal and sacrifice it to restore himself to fellowship with God. This sacrifice was not impersonal or ritualistic, but personal. We often get the image that the sinner takes one of their multitude of livestock and sends it away to the priest to do the job. But this is far from the case. It was costly and it was personal. We read in Leviticus 4:29, “And he” (the one who sinned) “shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.” In our part of the country, where most of us don’t have livestock, replace in your mind the animal with your beloved pet. I have 2 King Charles Cavaliers and the thought of my having to take one of them and personally sacrificing them for my sin repulses me. But this animal sacrifice only brought temporary atonement. Now picture our true Sacrifice. Realize that it was our sin which held our Savior to the cross until He could say “It is finished” or paid in full. Now some religions prefer corporate confession with prayer, others prefer personal confession followed by the reciting of certain prayers. The Jewish religion without the Temple tries to have their good works outweigh their bad ones the week before Yom Kippur. These are all religious attempts full of works. This has never been the solution in Scripture.
How easy it is to trivialize our sins. How easy it is to look at the various sin offerings and consider them out of date or irrelevant. In Romans 6:23, Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Many feel they are pretty good, but Paul said in Romans 3:10, 12, “There is none righteous, no, not one;…There is none who does good, no, not one.” If anyone still feels that they are without sin or that their sins are not so bad, we read John’s words in 1 John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” But just before this, we get one of the most beautiful promises in the Bible, in 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.” So I pray that this picture makes our sin personal, our repentance personal, and our Sacrifice in Jesus Christ personal. May we never trivialize our sin or our payment. Thank you, Jesus
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: