The Levitical laws are suffocating in their all-encompassing completeness. Sin, sin, sin. The requirement for sin was that you publicly confessed it, had to bring your own property to sacrifice, and your animals had their throats cut or necks wrung because of what you did.
The New Testament has a commentary on this: Hebrews 10. “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come.. can never with these same sacrifices…make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
So when that bull’s throat was cut and the blood pumped out in its death-struggle, when the innocent she-goat lay there with her legs twitching in a crimson pool, all it did was remind the worshiper of his imperfection, his sinfulness, his sin, his wrong. It reminded him that he was a bad person. And it reminded him that someday a Redeemer would come, the Seed of the Woman, the Anointed One, the Messiah.
This is God hammering home the consequences of the wrong Tree, a performance-based acceptance with God. Strive to not sin. Pay up when you do. It is a sin-consciousness whereby we “try to not sin” rather than loving God and loving others. It’s the old covenant, the Old Testament.
What is offered us in the New Covenant, the New Testament? A one-time, once-for-all sacrifice of the only One whose blood can take away sins. But wait, there’s more.
Hebrews 10 goes on to say, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being made holy. 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 their lawless deeds I will remember no more.'”
Now, let’s get this straight. The New Covenant is not only where the Messiah offers one sacrifice for sins forever and sits down, finished. The New Covenant is also where Jesus gives us an inner perfection by that one sacrifice, and that salvation in our inner being is being outworked into our daily lives because He has put His laws into our hearts and written them in our minds. This “Christ-in-you” was not revealed in the Old Covenant.
So – sins paid for, once for all time. An inner perfection, given to us in Christ, once for all time. That inner perfection, Christ Himself, is being worked out into our daily lives because He is the inner, living Law put into our hearts, as the unbroken tablets of the Law were put into the Ark of the Covenant. We’re not only dead to sin in fact; we are also dead to the Law – to that sin-conscious, sin-generating system of performance-based acceptance.
We have a choice. We can live according to the old way, sin-consciously building up a system of fence laws, rules and regulations based on fear of sinning. Or this: “Not only did Christ die for me, and pay for all my sins, but He lives in me and is even now my inner, living Law – both the desire to fulfill the Law and the power to do so.” This God-awareness (in an Old Covenant frame) is what caused God to call David, “A man after My own heart.”
That’s what God is looking for – a vast army of Aragorns, “…who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection…”
The choice is to live the old covenant, or to labor by faith to enter His rest – the righteousness which is of God by faith, ceasing from its own works. It is a giant-subduing faith, leading the alcoholic to get drunk on the Spirit, the porn addict to turn to the real Man within him, the financially fearful to trust upon the God who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” This is the God who draws us deeper and deeper into His inexhaustible Well.
That’s the Good News; anything less isn’t. In the mid-nineties I found “Jesus-died-to-pay-your-sin-debt” was only half of the Gospel. I prayed at that time, “Lord, if you don’t change my life, don’t bother forgiving me anymore.” After growing up with a legalistic concept of God, and then after years of “greasy grace” I was sick of who thought I was. When God started to shake what can be shaken, a real self began to emerge and is still emerging – a humanity that is more and more being owned and operated by the indwelling Savior that is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” the living Law that is in my heart and written on my mind.
I’ve found Biblically and experientially that reliance on God brings His life through me; reliance on “my self,” brings me under sin’s power, because that “self” is a false self generated by unbelief. That’s life under the written Law, and the subject of Romans 7. But as we learn to walk in the Spirit – a faith-choice in every situation whereby we rely on Christ-in-me to live through us – He lives. Temptation and even sin become God’s calling card telling us what the next area of Spirit appropriation and victory will be.
So ask yourself: “Do I live in a sin-consciousness? Do I feel I have to ‘pay up’ when I sin? Am I aware daily that Christ paid a one-time eternal fee for me? Am I aware that He has put Himself in my heart and written His laws on my mind? Do I live from that awareness – or do I live from sin-awareness, fear, and my own fleshly striving to do good and avoid evil? Am I walking in my true identity?”
The one consciousness brings about the seeming reappearance of “the old man” as we lock into a false struggle with ourselves to in an attempt to do good and avoid evil by our human will power. The other consciousness – faith in God’s Word – causes Christ to live through us more and more as He progressively appropriates more and more of our psyche and body. Faith takes the things of the Unseen and brings them down into manifestation; through faith our inner and outer Land is taken for the Kingdom.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.