The Bible is very clear on the effect of sin. It has irrevocably separated us from God. Sin in its simplest form is rebellion against God. It is falling short of God's standards; missing the mark. 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 broke from God's standard when they ate 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 spite of the sin which became part and parcel to humankind after Adam and Eve, God still desired to reconcile His fallen world to Himself which meant the sin issue had to be dealt with. The first remedy was through the sacrificial system. 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 the 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 was the innocent blood of a sacrificial animal (Leviticus 17:11) which temporarily allowed the one offering the sacrifice to have communion with God.
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. Because of its connection to the payment for sin it is also equated with judgment. Imagine yourself as an ancient Israelite who has come to the Tabernacle with a sacrifice. 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. If this animal had not taken your place, you would be held accountable for your sin and your life would be ebbing away instead.
It must have seemed hopeless, that endless cycle of sin and sacrifice. But it was not. The Book of Hebrews tells us that God has 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. The season of Lent is a reminder of the depth of Christ's sacrifice and what it signifies to us. We are no longer bound to the obligation of the Law- that is the requirement to continually offer sacrifices to cover sin and obtain communion with God. 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) permanently and has reconciled us to God (Romans 8:1-4). While Pop Culture tries to eliminate sin by redefining what it is, Christ has done more. He has removed the debt of sin by paying for it with His own blood.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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