Thursday, February 20, 2020


You know how the old system worked: whenever you committed a sin, you had to bring an offering to the Temple. A ram, a lamb, a goat, a dove, some wine, some grain, something. You had to find an animal, secure it, lead it to the priest, watch it be butchered, pour out its blood, burn it on the altar, take its unholy parts outside of the camp. It was a thing.

And if you think about just how much you sin in even one given day, well, it's a wonder that anyone had any livestock left by night fall, let alone had enough to build households out of. I'm telling you right now - I don't have enough room in my yard for the number of lambs it would take to atone for my fallen flesh for very long at all.

Then along comes Jesus. He dies as a poor man's sacrifice on the Cross and atones for our sins forever. Thank goodness.

So then, uhm, why do we spend our lives begging with God to forgive us and offering to make a deal to atone for our sins?

We keep praying this, right? We keep praying that God would forgive us, even though He's already forgiven us. We keep offering Him this or that in exchange for forgiveness, as though we're still coming to the Temple. As though we still have to bring something in order to be accepted. As though what God wants is our blood poured out all over again, when His blood has already filled the basin.

Hebrews 10 reminds us that where our sins are forgiven, there's no need for further sacrifice. These words were written for a people who were intimately acquainted with the Temple system that depended upon animal atonement. They needed to hear that it was okay to not do that any more. They'd already been forgiven.

We need to hear that, too.

We just spend our whole lives trying to convince God to do what He's already done. Like He didn't know who we are when He did it. Like He didn't have someone like us in mind. Like He didn't know we were going to end up being these big sinners. Like He didn't realize how unworthy we are of all of it. Most of us have never sacrificed a single animal in our entire lifetime, have never brought an offering of atonement to the priest to have him make peace with the Lord for us. And yet, we live our entire lives trying to figure out what to bring and where to go...longing for a way to make things right, hoping for a way to be clean.

Things have already been made right. We've already been made clean. There's no need any more for sacrifices, not where we've already been forgiven. Time to stop begging and pleading and bargaining. Just embrace it. It is finished.

And that's not to say that we shouldn't bring things to God. Absolutely, we should give Him our very lives and everything that we have. But we should not mistake our offering for an atoning sacrifice. We should not pretend that what we bring "earns" us anything or merits us anything. What we bring now, we bring freely - fellowship offerings, offerings of grace, thanksgiving offerings. There's still room for all of this. And we absolutely should bring it.

But out of the blessed life we're already living, not out of some prison we've put ourselves in. 

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