Friday, November 04, 2016

Sending the Sins Away

Today's Reading: 
Leviticus 15:1-17:16 
John 5:1-30
Psalm 33:12-22
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Focus Verses: Leviticus 16:20-22
20 "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

The Day of Atonement was an annual ritual of cleansing and forgiveness that foreshadowed the ultimate and eternal cleansing that would be accomplished by Christ's sacrificial death. What they did year after year was a picture that anticipated what Jesus would one day do once for all (Hebrews 10:11-13).

The goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, along with the other sacrificed animals, symbolized the death and sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. There is much discussion and speculation about the meaning of the scapegoat driven away. Some think it represents the physical suffering and hardship Christ endured in bearing our sins. I think it may represent the believer's part in casting sin aside. Christ died for sin, but the believer must also participate in Christ’s work by turning away from and dying to sin (Rom. 12:1-2).

Response and Action:
I will look to Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, renewal, and the hope of eternal life. I will put my faith in his saving sacrifice on my behalf. I will also make every effort to drive out the sins in my life. Christ not only died to atone for my sin, but also gives me the power of his Spirit to be made new and to find freedom from sin. By the power and grace of Christ, I will make every effort to put aside the sins that entangle me. Beyond forgiveness, I will pursue holiness.

O God, by the power and grace of your Holy Spirit, lead, teach, transform, shape, and strengthen me, that I might delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your Name. Thank you for the forgiveness you have given through Jesus. Help me to drive sin and unfaithfulness out of my life. Help me to offer myself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you. By your grace, strengthen and bless my efforts to turn away from sin. Amen.

Spiritual Formation Verses: Hebrews 10:1-4
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views
by Thomas R. Schreiner

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