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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner

By Horatius Bonar


      Leviticus 4:27-35

      WE have here, (1.) the sinner. He is one of the common people; "any man;" "whosoever." (2.) The sin. It is one of ignorance; he is not aware of it; conscience did not take cognisance of it; he has forgotten it. (3.) The remedy. It is a sin-offering; this only can make it pass as completely from God's memory, as it has passed from his own. (4.) The atonement. It is by blood; through the intervention of priesthood; no atonement without the blood of a substitute. (5.) The connection between the sinner and the atonement. He lays his hands on the sacrifice, for a two-fold reason; to identify himself with it; to transfer his sin to it; he says, Let this stand instead of me, its life and death for my life and death. (6.) The forgiveness. The sin passes away; there is no condemnation; it is instantaneous, complete, perpetual pardon.

      Such was the symbol. Full and expressive,--revealing to us atonement and pardon through the one great sacrifice. Let us see what this old sin-offering teaches us.

      I. What God thinks of sin. It is something which must not be slighted. It is infinitely hateful, calling for condemnation and wrath. Nothing light or trivial about it. Not to be jested with, or transiently frowned upon, or forgotten in a day. It calls for special marks of wrath. It is the abominable thing which He hates; its beginning is wrath and death, its end is hell. And as He thinks so does He wish us to think. What think ye of sin? What is your opinion of its nature, its evil, its deservings?

      II. How He deals with it. He does not despise nor forget it. He deals with it as a Judge. He estimates it as a Judge. He condemns it as a Judge. He inflicts punishment as a Judge. This must be either executed on ourselves personally, or on our substitute. Condemnation must be proclaimed; the penalty must be executed,

      (1.) He condemns sin. He gave the law to condemn sin. He set up the cross to condemn it more. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The wages of sin is death.

      (2.) He provides a sin-bearer. He does not leave us to do this; but does it Himself. He not only appoints the sin- offering, but He provides the victim. His Son, the Word made flesh,--He is the appointed Sin-bearer, divine and human in his constitution, perfect in all respects, sufficient for the great undertaking, able to bear wrath without being consumed.

      (3.) He transfers the guilt. The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. The chastisement of our peace was on Him. He whose is the right to retain or transfer the guilt transfers it to a substitute.

      Thus, then, He has provided the atonement. His appointed High Priest has made the atonement. This atonement is now a past fact. It is done. The sin-offering has been brought. The blood has been shed. The propitiation has been accomplished. God has done it all, without man's help, or desire, or concurrence. Nothing more is needed now in the shape of atonement for the guiltiest. No more blood, no more fire, no more endurance of wrath. It is all done! Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. Love is now free to flow out.

      III. How He deals with the sinner. He bids him come for pardon, and assures him of getting it at once, freely, on the ground of the provided atonement, and simply as a sinner. His object is to connect the sinner with the propitiation; for so long as they remain separate there is no benefit resulting to man from the shed blood. He provides thus for the connection of the sinner.

      (1.) He issues a declaration concerning His own free love, His goodwill to men, His willingness to pardon any sinner. "God so loved the world." "God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith He loved us." Thus we have God's own assurance of a personal welcome to each of us,--as we are. We do not make the welcome personal by our prayers or feelings; we avail ourselves of an already existing personal welcome to each sinner,--as a sinner.

      (2.) He issues a testimony to the completeness of the atonement. He raised up His Son from the dead as the visible testimony. But besides this He has in various ways given full testimony as to the sufficiency and suitableness of the atonement.

      (3.) He issues a promise of forgiveness to every one who will receive this testimony. "It shall be forgiven him," is His promise to every one who thus believes. Thus forgiveness becomes a matter of certainty to every one who thus connects himself with the divine sin-offering.

      Perhaps you say, I see that God has provided a propitiation, that this is complete, and available for me, but how am I to be so connected with it as to obtain the pardon? Everything depends on this connection being established, for without it there is no pardon. Now, how did the Israelite connect himself with the sin-offering? He simply took the lamb and brought it to the priest and said, Let this stand for me, laying his hand on it and thereby transferring all his guilt to it. So we, by receiving the testimony and the promise, connect ourselves with the divine atonement. We go to God saying, Let this life and death be for my life and death. We consent to be dealt with on the footing of another, not our own, and immediately the personal exchange takes place. He gets all our evil, we get all His good. Our demerit goes to Him, His merit comes to us. We take the royal grant of life and righteousness through the life and death of another. Pardon is secured, and ought to be a thing as sure and as conscious to us, as to the Israelite after he had brought the sacrifice and seen it laid on the altar.

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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