THE GUILT OFFERING"When a person commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord's holy things, he is to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven." Leviticus 5:15-16
Sin is a monster which has many forms! Each form has many hands. Each hand deals wounds. Each wound is death. It touches to destroy. But for each wound help is prepared. Jesus appears omnipotent to heal.
This is the truth, which Eden heard; which types displayed; which prophets sang; which cheered the saints of old; which martyrs sealed with blood; which faithful pastors still proclaim. This is the truth, which Satan hates; which infidelity derides; which worldlings tread beneath contemptuous feet. But it lives throughout the Bible-page; and will live forever—the joy of heaven and the rage of hell. This is the prospect, to which the Guilt offering calls. It shows a pillar with a two-fold front. One indeed sternly asks for penalty. But the other brightens with atonement made.
Reader, the verses, which here meet your eye, state the first case of Guilt offering. It will suffice to ponder this. The other instances in name may vary, but in principle are one.
A soul commits a trespass, and sins through ignorance in holy things. God's law is thus infringed—His will transgressed. The rewards of heaven are withheld. Such are the features of offence.
Can unintentional sins be but trifles? Shall no wrath arise? Shall deeds unholy cause no holy frown? This cannot be. Iniquity is hated by our God. Can he be clean who loathes not filth? Can he be pure, who shrinks not from impurity? Would not God's throne be tarnished, if sin be not condemned?
Let this ordinance be heard. First, the Guilt offering unveils God's wrath. Offence is dealt with terribly. The trespasser must seek the altar with a ram. The victim must lay down his life. The blood must flow. The costliest parts must be the food of flames. Where trespass has been, death must flow. So speaks this witness, with no faltering voice.
Is the question asked, why is the life thus taken? What means such a sacrifice, terrible in death and gore. The answer loudly thunders, Trespass brings death! No soul can sin and live. Such is the language of this solemn rite. Let all, who hear take heed.
Ignorance of this truth is the dark veil, which blinds our race. It is the downward path, which slopes to hell. Alas! how few believe, that all the streams of trespass flow to ruin's gulf.
Survey the giddy crowds, who throng earth's path. The mirth—the levity—the godless words—the silly unconcern, prove, that they little know the peril of their state. The current of their thoughts—the bias of their being—the channel of their words and works, widely transgress the law's strict rule, and still they sport, as moths around a flame. They fall to sleep, as Sisera in Jael's tent. Judges 4:21. They take the dainties from a treacherous hand, but neither see the hammer nor the nails. Like Amasa, they seek a friend's embrace; but heed not the sword which Joab holds. 2 Sam. 20:10. Thus multitudes unconsciously are slain.
But this rite specially condemns transgression in God's holy things. Alas! this is a frequent case. Many sacrilegiously invent a religion of their own conceit. God plainly speaks from His high throne. He states His will. He shows the only path to heaven. But man's indifference refuses to be taught. He pursues the light, which erring reason kindles. He chooses the rags of sinful human nature, rather than the Gospel-robe. But none reach heaven by such Babel-steps. This trespass cloaked in a fair guise, allures a Cain-like crowd. But it is trespass, and it slays the soul.
Some would buy heaven by the price of 'religious forms'. They bring the offering of 'external rites' duly kept. They diligently tread the 'ceremonial round'. They never doubt, that 'ritual strictness' will secure the crown.
Reader, take heed of error here. Truth is a narrow line. Men easily diverge. On either side there is a foul descent. In Satan's creed there are opposing falsehoods. One lowers 'forms' to dust. The other raises them to saving worth. He cares not which delusion is embraced. But each delusion is soul-peril. Forms are not nothing. They are ordained of God. They feed the soul. They fan the flame of faith. Their due observance proves the inward life. This is their Scripture-place.
But means will never cleanse one sin. They have no strength to hold back vengeance. Woe then is theirs, who use them as their only plea, and clasp them, as their only hope. Would that each eye discerned this snare! Would that each pulpit gave a warning note! This error only lives in dens of ignorance. It cannot breathe when dragged to light. But it is sin. Therefore it is death. The Gospel slighted, leaves no hope.
But when heaven's rays in mercy dissipate these mists—when error, as a murderer, is seen—then the deep sigh is heard, "Is there no remedy—no refuge—no escape? Must everlasting vengeance seize me as its prey?"
Now view the Trespass offering again. While faith beholds, a saving gleam breaks forth. A dying victim comes. A substituted life is taken. Another suffers in the offender's place. Pardon is granted through a proxy's blood.
Believer, here is the picture, in which faith delights. A Guilt offering is prepared in Christ. He is made all your sin. He drinks your every drop of woe. Amazing grace! Astounding love! This is God's way to save. This is the song of all the saved—the joy of all, who really joy—the hope of all, who have true hope. This is the fact, which conquers death, and tramples on the grave, and gives enduring peace, and furnishes resistless pleas, and satisfies each attribute of God, and crowns Jehovah with His brightest crown. Look clearly at this ordinance. The Guilt offering bleeds, and guilt is forgiven. So Jesus dies, and His whole family is saved. It is a heaven-taught challenge, "Who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" It is a heaven-brought answer, "It is God who justifies." The Spirit prompts the question, "Who is He, that condemns?" The same voice sounds the triumph-note, "It is Christ who died." Each Guilt offering shouts aloud this truth.
This cup of grace is not exhausted yet. The sinner's need is a vast varied field. No single image can depict its breadth. But Jesus's work completely covers all. His life is laid down as guilt expiation. But death alone crowns not salvation's pyramid. More is required. More is performed by Christ. More is pre-figured here. The value of the trespass must be reckoned. Scales must be brought. The offender must pay down the estimated cost according to the sanctuary's weight. Further addition of a fifth part must be made. Equivalent will not suffice. Excess is superfluous. Lev. 5:16. This rule sets guilt in a clearer light. Death is entailed—that is the misery. Debt is incurred—that is the penalty and shame.
We thus are taught, that sin defrauds God. Creation's law makes us His sole possession. No faculty of mind or frame—no power of intellect or thought—no talent of influence or time—no opportunity—no gift—no grace, is property of our own. All then should serve the cause of the one sovereign Lord. Reason should plan, and eyes should see, and hands should work, and feet should run, to do Him honor and augment His praise. Our every energy should fly abroad with morning light, to gather fruits of glory for His name. Each night should prove, that faith and love have labored to advance His kingdom upon earth.
But is it so? What is the witness of each hour? Alas! SELF mounts the great Creator's throne. We rise, we enter on the day, we journey on, as if self-seeking were legitimate employ. Whether we rest or toil it is unto ourselves. Is not this trespass? Such is its lightest name. It robs our God. It wastes His remuneration. Reader, this is a solemn thought. It fixes on our souls the blackest dye of wrong. It brands us, as purloining from a Father's and a Benefactor's treasury!
Some perhaps may ask, "can no amends be made? Can no devotedness repay?" That is a vain conceit. If not one thought of any moment ever swerved from a pure effort for the Lord, it would but be, that moment's due. Surplus of merit is the papist's dream. But our best acts are only increase of our debt. Hence all our works make bankruptcy more deep. When justice calls to the white throne, the fairest reckoning is one huge debt. Who then can stay arrest?
Here the true Guilt offering again presents relief. Jesus is salvation to the full. Hence death for sin is not the whole of his grand work. This decks us with no merit. It fills no hands with fruits of righteousness. He must also pay a whole life's homage to the Law. He gives compliance to its largest rule. It asked for one undeviating course of love. Jesus was love without one straying step.
Reader, if you are Christ's, this pure fulfillment of the Law is for you. For you Christ wrought it. To your account He puts it. Ponder its wondrous worth. Since Christ is God, Deity embodies all His acts. When He obeys, it is Divine obedience. Unsullied righteousness is sought from man. The righteousness cast over him is the righteousness of God.
The Guilt-offerer added a surplus. But who can weigh the surplus, which Christ brings? Jesus piles the scales, until God can give, and God can take no more.
Such is the Gospel, which pervades this rite. It is clear, and full, and rich, and precious, and divine. Reader, it comes to you this day. It deals most lovingly, most closely with you. It tells you in emphatic terms, that sin and guilt stain your heart, your soul, your mind, your life, your every day, your every hour. It warns, that every trespass strengthens Satan's claims, and fans the flames of hell. It strips off every self-framed hope. It places a vast barrier between you and God.
But next it sweetly shows a full recovery. Christ's cross and life are pictured in the brightest hues. You see Him dying to pay the guilt-penalty. You see His righteousness supplying guilt-wrongs. He tenderly persuades, "only believe, and take My overflowing cup of merit. Come, cling by faith to Me, and all your trespasses are buried in My wounds—and all your guilt is covered by My robe—Come, and by faith be one with Me—here is full pardon—no charge against you can be found—here is full beauty—no speck of filth remains. Here is My cross—your all-sufficient expiation. Here is My surplus payment—as your wealth."
Reader, what answer do you give? Can you reject the only Guilt offering?
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