Forgiveness for sins was a provision in the Old Testament. This was true for the priest (Leviticus 4:3), the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13), the ruler (Leviticus 4:22), or any one of the common people (Leviticus 4:27).
Leviticus 4:27-31 And if any
one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he does somewhat against
any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be
done, and is guilty;
28 Or if his sin, which he has sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned. 29 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.
30 And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar.
31 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
The sinner would bring a goat for a sin offering. He would lay his hand on the head of the goat, transferring the sin to the goat. Thus the goat became the sinner. The goat was then slain and the man walked away free of guilt. He was forgiven! In much the same way Jesus Christ bore our sins and was slain in our behalf (Isaiah 53:3-7).
Some form of the word “forgiven” (forgive, forgiven, forgiveness, forgiving, etc.) is found 51 times in the Old Testament. In the fourth and fifth chapters of Leviticus alone, it is explicitly stated that the sinner is forgiven 8 times (Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35; 5:10, 13, 16, 18). It is important for us to understand that provision was made for the sinner to receive forgiveness in the Old Testament, for there are those who teach that one could not really receive forgiveness in that day, that their sin was merely laid aside until Jesus shed His blood on the cross and then their forgiveness was made complete. That is not true! Anyone who met the conditions given could receive forgiveness. That being the case, why was it necessary for Jesus to die on the cross? The answer is found in the Book of Hebrews, as well as many other places in the Bible.
Hebrews 10:1-4 For the law
having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things,
can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
It does not say that it was impossible for forgiveness but that it was impossible to “take away sins.” The Greek word for “take away” is aphaireo. It means “to take away” or “to cut off” in the sense of eliminating the source. The same word is used of Peter “cutting off” the ear of the priest’s servant in Matthew 26:51. He cut off the ear and there was no more ear. The blood of bulls and goats could not “cut off” sin that there should be no more sin. The blood of Jesus did more than the blood of bulls and goats. It went beyond forgiveness. It also provided a “cutting off” of sins; that is, it dealt with the source of the sin.
Hebrews 10:11-14 And every
priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices,
which can never take away sin:
12 But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God:
13 From henceforth expecting till His enemies are made His footstool.
14 For by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
The offering of Jesus as the Lamb of God provides forgiveness for sins and also makes the provision for the “cutting off” of the sin nature. It is a two-fold work. However, it doesn’t just happen. We must take the initiative to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior; we must also take the initiative to appropriate His life.
Romans 5:9-10 Much more then,
being now justified by His blood, we
shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
We shall be saved by His life in us! The cycle must be completed. After our sins are transferred to the cross, His life must be transferred to us. It is a nature change, and it does not automatically take place when you repent and receive forgiveness for your sins.
Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? It was necessary for Him to die as a man and become Spirit so that His life could be transferred to us.
II Corinthians 4:10-11 Always
bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of
Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
This may seem quite simple to you, but this is not taught in many Christian churches. They teach forgiveness through the blood of Jesus but they do not teach the people how to receive His nature, to really be born again. It is a truth hidden in plain sight for many. Too many Christians have been deceived into thinking that once they repent and receive forgiveness for their sins that they are born again. To be born again means to be born of God, to have taken on His nature. At the very best, we are being born again, in the process of becoming as He is. For one to assume he is born again simply because he has been forgiven and is now a Christian closes the door to the new birth.
Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? His death and resurrection made provision for us to become as He is – sons of God!
Copyright © 2006 by Henry DuBose