When the Apostle Paul was known only as Saul of Tarsus, he sought to destroy the body of Christ. He guarded the coats of those who stoned Stephen, and the blood of that day only gave him a thirst for more. As an enforcer for the Sanhedrin, his manner and methods presaged the horrors of the Inquisition. He was violent, cruel, and passionate about persecuting Christians. Such was the man who would become one of the most prominent figures of the first century church. How could one who had imprisoned, tortured, and murdered Christians later serve them without a life-debilitating guilt?
When sin crops up in our lives (and it will), we don’t need to deny it or hide it. We need to bring it out into the light of the Son by confessing it. When we ask the Father to forgive our sins for Christ’s sake, He is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. Once the sin sacrifice has been offered, we need to proceed to the burnt offering, consecrating ourselves to God.
The Son declared on His exit from heaven that He knew the Father had no pleasure in the animal burnt offerings and sin sacrifices. Because His heart is to always bring pleasure to the Father, He did something about it. “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” He said. He came to save us, but His motivation was to bring pleasure to His Father.
These men “lifted up their voices.” Sometimes we need to get loud when we pray. These men were not allowed to come too close to the Lord, so they reached out to Him with their voices. “JESUS! MASTER! HAVE MERCY ON US!” I believe that often the distance that separates us from the answer to our prayers is directly proportional to the amount of “dignity” we have left. How desperate are we for deliverance? How hungry are we for a touch from Jesus? Loud cries from a humble heart are answered more readily than religious prayers from stiff lips!
“A sweet savor unto the Lord” is the hallmark language of the burnt and peace offerings. I believe it is only used one time with regard to the sin offering. When we consecrate our lives to God, when we decide to walk a sanctified walk, it is a well-pleasing aroma to Him. Our life ceases to have the repugnant stench of the unclean about it. Instead, it becomes a perfume He is pleased to inhale.
In the Old Testament system, there was no provision made for intentional and willful sin—none! Oh, I’m sorry. There was one provision made for intentional sin—stoning. The wages of sin is death and death was the only provision made in the Old Covenant for willful disobedience of the commandments of God.
Jesus and the Sadducees were having a little tête-à-tête. Perceiving that they were losing ground before the Master with their hypothetical reasoning, a scribe jumped in to save the day with a bona fide theological question. “What is the first commandment of all?”
Have you ever had a sin that you have confessed and placed under the blood, yet it still plagued your conscience? If you haven’t, I am sure you know someone who has. Though they’ve confessed the sin and placed it under the blood, they can’t shake the guilt. Why is that?
The leper that was to be cleansed had to bring a log of oil as one of his offerings. It was from this oil that the altar was sprinkled and the leper anointed. The offering became the anointing. Now, if we see in this oil the Holy Spirit, this may seem confusing. How could one “offer up” the Holy Spirit? And having offered it up, how could one then anoint with it? Strange as this might seem, it is exactly what the Lord Jesus did.
After bringing us into covenant with Him by cleansing us with His blood, the Lord leads us to a life of consecration. The longer we walk with the Lord, the more He challenges us to let go of the world. Activities we enjoyed without guilt in the past now become restricted by convictions. But with each conviction followed comes a new liberty to serve the Lord in consecrated holiness.