I have been studying Leviticus. Ooooooohhhhh…… I just felt some of you roll your eyes at this one inwardly. hahaha. It is difficult to understand the different sacrifices and the rituals. Especially when we don’t sacrifice physical animals to God. Nature versus Behavior is the main idea here. The nature is who we are; the behavior is what we do. Our nature is all the same and that is sinful. But the behavior is various and different. Jesus is the only atonement for sins.
There have many discussions, and frankly, many arguments, over the issue of salvation. And I know that this hot topic will be met with various viewpoints including those that don’t share mine. However, it has been weighing heavily on my mind. So I will attempt to describe how the Spirit taught me about this fundamental point so many of us question.
To begin with understanding salvation, we need to know what we are being saved from and why we need to be saved from it. Some of us may not have grown up knowing the gospel. Or some of us have, but we didn’t have it explained to us properly or correctly so we don’t have a strong connection with what salvation really means.
First, I will give you the definitions that I got just by doing a random Internet search. “Preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss”, and “deliverance from sin and its consequences, believed by Christians to be brought about by faith in Christ.” These two definitions pretty much sum up what I am going to explain. However, there is more than just “being saved”. The “harm, ruin, and loss” here is eternal separation from God. God is holy, and His dwelling place is holy. If something that is not holy enters into His holy place, the place is no longer holy. If we are unholy, we cannot enter into His holy place without first becoming holy. And how do we do that, you ask? I will get back to that.
Deliverance from “sin and its consequences” is important to understand. Sin is doing something against God’s Will. If He wants us to tell the truth (which He does), and we don’t tell the truth, we have sinned. If He wants us to return what we have borrowed (which He does), and we instead keep it for ourselves, we have sinned. What gets missed all of the time is that if He wants us to help someone in need and we don’t, that is still a sin. It is missing the mark and going against His Will. Just like most parents tell their children, “there is a reason why I told you to do something.” And as we know by reading Romans, “the wages of sin is death.” This “death” is eternal separation from God. All life comes from the source of life – God.
Now, we are sinful in nature, meaning we have a propensity to sin. The sinning is our behavior, but it is because of our sinful nature that we sin. Jesus came as the ultimate atonement for our sins, and by faith in Him (Romans 3:25), our nature is changed. Salvation is our nature being replaced with Jesus’ nature. “The old man is left behind; behold, all things are made new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) That has to do with our nature. He cleansed us, redeemed us, and forgave us. We are now able to enter into His presence. Remember, that doesn’t mean that we won’t be tempted to sin again. The act of sinning is a behavior issue. However, our nature has changed so that, even though we have the capacity to sin, we have been set free from sin’s power over us. We no longer have to give into it. We can turn from it. We can give that stuff over to God. We don’t have to do anything with it anymore. All we have to do is follow the direction and Will of Our Heavenly Father guiding us by way of the Holy Spirit. Faith in Jesus and thereby the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make us holy.
Salvation only comes by way of faith in Christ. I know that it sounds too easy to be true, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. It took a lot to get to this point. A lot of time and effort, up to and including death of a perfect life, had to happen before salvation became attainable. Before Christ sent the Holy Spirit, we were just empty “tents” (see 1 Corinthians 5:4) walking around doing what we do on this earth of ours. However, when Jesus lived, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in those who believed so that He would be with us always. Once we have faith, we are no longer empty.
Salvation cannot come of ourselves. So we cannot do any amount of good deeds to please God if we don’t trust that He sent the Son. We cannot rely on practice, discipline, and strict obedience to gain access to God’s dwelling place. Practicing self-motivation and self-control is great, but this does not cause one to obtain salvation because of it. When we rely on our own works and sheer will power, we will be met with chronic guilt for not being “perfect”; apathy because “I’m never going to be perfect so why try”; depression because “I just can’t be perfect”; failure because no one is perfect; and a constant desire for approval as if you need someone to tell you that you are good enough. Faith in Jesus is the only way.
Faith in Jesus is simply trusting Him at His word. If He said, “It is finished”, then it is. Simply trust Him and live as though you do. Confess, submit, and commit yourselves to Christ’s control. And if you have a hard time doing that, remember, the Holy Spirit in us helps us to do good work for Christ’s Kingdom, not for our benefit only (or at all sometimes). Relying on and trusting in Jesus leads to feelings of joy, thankfulness, love, guidance, service, and forgiveness.
In a way to wrap this all up, remember that Christ came for it all. When James speaks of faith by works in chapter 2 verse 18, this speaks of showing your nature by your obedience. Obedience results from a relationship with God, but obedience will never create or earn that relationship. And in Leviticus, there were many sacrifices and offerings that were outlined by God and given to Moses who relayed them to the Israelites. Nowadays, we no longer need to sacrifice for atonement and forgiveness. However, the sins still exist. But we can come into our God’s presence, instead of going through a priest, concerning our misbehavior. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for atonement. And going through the Old Testament has allowed for a fuller picture of why and how the plan of salvation has come together. It’s almost like a grainy picture becoming more and more clear and I am able to make out more details before.
Now if any of this doesn’t make sense, or I need to know something that I am missing here, let me know. Send me a message.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..