In the early 1980's, a popular Christian musician by the name of Steve Taylor, wrote a scathing musical commentary called "Whatever Happened to Sin?", which hit the Christian radio airwaves and immediately became a hit. Taylor's satirical song attacked branches of Christianity which had turned away from God's Word and embraced the reasoning of the world in order to accept behavior completely opposite of God's will. Although Taylor's song was popular, not many paid attention to its point. Who really wants to be confronted with sin? It's an ugly picture no matter what way you look at it.
Yet the Bible is very clear on the effect of sin. It has irrevocably separated us from God. Sin in its simplest definition is rebellion against God. It is falling short of God's standards; missing the target. Although we were created to be in community with God, sin has corrupted human nature so that humankind is hostile to God. Sin causes us to be held captive to our baser emotions and desires, constantly fighting with and being unwilling to submit to God's ways, and therefore it has not only corrupted individuals, but society at large as well (Romans 7:21-25). The Bible teaches that sin entered the human experience at a very early stage. Adam and Eve overrode God's authority by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:6). After that fateful decision, sin became an issue that every person must deal with throughout their lifetime. Each one of us faces decisions on a daily basis that either puts God in authority over us, or puts us over and above God in the same manner of Adam and Eve's choice in the Garden.
The Old Testament sacrifices were a constant reminder of the penalty for sin, and the Book of Leviticus drives that point home with verse after verse describing what an Israelite must do to maintain a relationship with God. Why is God so hot and bothered by sin? His holiness demands perfection and purity. Anything other than perfect or 100% pure cannot withstand His holiness (Leviticus 19:2). The only acceptable substitute to cover the effect of sin was the blood of a sacrificial animal (Leviticus 17:11). Why blood? The Bible does appear to be interested in the subject! Of the 406 times it is spoken of, the majority lie in the Old Testament; but blood is also mentioned 97 times in the New Testament. Blood is called the “seed of life” for obvious reasons. Without blood, you cannot live. Imagine yourself as an ancient Israelite who has come to the Tabernacle with another sacrifice to make a payment for sin. You place your hands on the animal's head and the priest offers a prayer for the transfer of your sin to this innocent animal. As you watch its life slip away, you recognize the severity of your predicament. Had not this animal died for you, you would be there in its place.
Sin is an Ugly Picture. Whenever I see it present in current events or within myself, I wish I could eradicate its image from my mind. I cannot, but for some redefining it becomes a way to circumvent God’s demands and get that ugly picture out of sight. You can rename it all you want but it’s still sin in God’s eyes. It must have seemed hopeless, that endless cycle of sin and sacrifice back in ancient Israel. But it was not. The Book of Hebrews tells us that God replaced the temporary blood of animal sacrifice with the blood of His Only Begotten Son (Hebrews 9:11-14). The blood of Christ is an eternal solution to the problem of sin. As a man, He is able to be the substitute for all people. As God, His eternal nature makes the payment for sin eternal as well. Therefore Christ has put away the need for perpetual sacrifices through His blood. We are no longer bound to the obligation of the Law. We do not need to substitute the blood of an animal for our sin. Christ has put away the need for perpetual sacrifices through His blood (Romans 5:6-10) and has reconciled us to God forever (Romans 8:1-4). He replaces those Ugly Pictures with His love (Rom. 5:6-11).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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