LEVITICUS 16:20-22: “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: Are our sins really gone? Are we really fully pardoned and fully cleansed? We ask ourselves this question because we read the the promise of God’s Word and then we look at the reality of our life. We have embraced Jesus Christ through faith, and we have received His forgiveness and adoption as sons and daughters. Yet, we still sin and struggle with brokenness. How do we reconcile these two things?
The picture of the “scapegoat” on the Day of Atonement is a wonderful reminder of how the Grace and Mercy of God works. The live goat was provided for the nation of Israel as a gift from the Lord. They did not have to bring it or purchase it. Aaron stood as God’s representative before Israel. When he laid his hands upon the goat and confessed all the sins of the people of Israel over it the Lord was providing a provision for their forgiveness and cleansing. They could not remove their sin, but the Lord could transfer it to another to bear their penalty and guilt.
This is exactly what Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary. He was whipped and beaten for our iniquities. He was led outside of the city to a desolate place to carry our sin away upon His back and die in our place. We did nothing to provide for this sacrifice, it was provided for us by the Father through the obedience of His Son. He became our substitute, our scapegoat. Through His one and final sacrifice He paid in full the penalty for all of our sin – both present and future. There is nothing more we need to do. It is finished!
Then why do we still struggle with sin? On this side of eternity we are living with an internal struggle. Our spirits have been born anew, but our bodies and our soul (mind, will, and emotions) are still tied to this fallen world and our old fallen nature. This reality does not change our standing before God. We stand complete in Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness. Yet, in this struggle we still sin. John in his first epistle warns us of this. He says if we say we do not sin we deceive ourselves. So does the fact that we still struggle with sin nullify the fact that we have been fully pardoned from sin?
Absolutely not! The same provision that was given to pay the penalty for our sin so that we could stand justified through Christ before the Father, is the same provision that is given to cleanse us from our sin when we fail during this present struggle. In both cases there is nothing we can do to earn it. The provision for our forgiveness and cleansing is freely given to us by the Father through the obedience of His Son. Jesus stands as our provision for forgiveness and cleansing, both at the point of our salvation, and at the point of our struggle. He remains our substitute, our advocate, our only provision for forgiveness and cleansing!
Lord, thank You for Your provision of forgiveness and cleansing in Jesus Christ. Forgive me for the times I think I need to earn Your love and forgiveness, or when I try to add anything to what Jesus Christ has already done for me. I ask You to cleanse me and give me the Grace to stand in the fulness of Your love and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. In Jesus Name!