Introduction. If you have followed the first four sacrifices closely, it might seem that there should be nothing further for a believer to do in his or her walk. In the first four chapters, God explained how to be saved by the blood of atonement, how to dedicate your life in gratitude, how to establish fellowship and peace with God and how to restore it after it is broken by sin. If nothing is broken in your relationship with God, you might be tempted to leave it alone. Yet, all relationships require work to maintain them, even if they are not broken. If you don’t work at them, they either break down over time or fade in intensity. To keep our relationship with God from cooling over time or drifting into a gradual breach, He lists one additional sacrifice, the “guilt” or “trespass” sacrifice. The guilt sacrifice addresses the paradox whereby, as we draw closer to God, the more we see hidden sins that no one else can see. The guilt offering addresses the hidden sins of hearing, touching, speaking, and seeing that God has made known to only you. He does not bring this guilt to condemn you. Yet, He does not want you to ignore your guilt as some do. He instead uses guilt to draw you to seek out even higher levels of personal integrity and purity. We can see this process by studying the Apostle Paul. He called himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9). He then called himself the least of the saints (Eph. 3:8). At the end of his life, he called himself the chief of sinners: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim. 1:15). Finally, the guilt sacrifice also commands you to restore or make whole the people who you have wronged. Saying that you are sorry is not enough.
Through the guilt sacrifice, God provides seven lessons for every believer to maintain their fellowship with Him as they draw closer to Him. First, the guilt offering is meaningless without the four sacrifices that precede it. A believer cannot have a fellowship relationship with God without first atoning for his or her sins. Following the destruction of the Second Temple after Jesus’ death, there has been no way for the Jews to do this through God’s sacrificial laws. The New Testament reveals that atonement can only come by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Second, maintaining fellowship requires that believers hear and obey God’s call in their lives. Third, maintaining fellowship requires that a believer keep himself or herself pure of the unclean things of this world. Fourth, maintaining fellowship requires that the believer always exhibit personal integrity in all settings as an example to others. Fifth, maintaining fellowship requires that a believer regularly confess his or her sins. Sixth, maintaining fellowship with God requires that a believer have a giving heart. You cannot claim to be deeply in love with God while being unmoved when others are suffering around you. Finally, maintaining fellowship requires that believers restore others or make them whole after any wrongs that they have committed. God will forgive you when you confess your sins (1 Jo. 1:9). Yet, He still expects you to restore others when you hurt them.
The Burnt Offering. (Justification). True fellowship with God is impossible if you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God requires a burnt offering using sinless blood to atone for a person’s sins (Lev. 1; Heb. 9:22; Lev. 17:11). Christ later gave His sinless blood to offer salvation to everyone (Rev. 7:9). Through Christ’s death -- and not our own works -- we are made right or “justified” before God (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:25; Gal. 3:13; Mk. 14:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). “[T]he free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23). “[W]e have now been justified by His blood.” (Rom. 5:8-10).
The Grain Offering. (Sanctification). Out of gratitude, a person saved from damnation offered the works of the person’s life (symbolized by a grain offering) as a “living sacrifice” for God (Lev. 2; Ro. 12:1). The seven elements include: (1) being led by the Holy Spirit (the oil) (Lev. 2:1-2; 1 Sam. 16:13); (2) leading a life without intentional sin (the “unleavened bread”) (Lev. 2:4, 11; 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9); (3) allowing the Spirit to crush selfish will (the “fine flour”) (Lev. 2:1, 7; Jo. 6:34; 2 Cor. 4:8); (4) being in regular prayer (the “frankincense”) (Lev. 2:2; Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3); (5) leading a life that convicts others of sin and causes others to thirst for the living water of God (the salt) (Lev. 2:13; Matt. 5:13); (6) denying the flesh to allow God to fill the believer with the joy of the Holy Spirit (the honey) (Lev. 2:11); and (7) sharing with others (Lev. 2:10; 2 Cor. 9:6, 8-14).
The Peace or Shalom Offering (Communion). For those who want intimate fellowship with God, He offers to “dine” with the believer (Lev. 3:11, 16; Rev. 3:20). To have God’s Shalom peace, a believer must do seven things. These include: (1) remembering “daily” that true peace comes only through Christ’s blood (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:13-15); (2) offering “spiritual sacrifices” symbolized by each kind of animal (1 Pet. 2:5); (3) using “talents” in proportion to which God has given them (Matt. 25:14-30); (4) giving the best of a person’s life and denying certain pleasures for God (the “fat” offering) (Lev. 3:3, 9, 14, 16-17); (5) being pure inside by handing over to God control over the things which regulate purity (the “kidney” and “liver” offering) (Lev. 3:4, 10, 15); (6) being obedient to God’s specific instructions for finding peace (Lev. 26:3, 6); and (7) opening the door of the person’s heart to Jesus by diligently searching Him out (Rev. 3:20; Ps. 119:2; Jer. 29:13). Finally, we celebrate this fellowship by “dining” with Christ in Communion: “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 11:24).
The Sin Offering. (Restoration). When a believer sins, fellowship with God (not salvation) is broken. To restore fellowship, a believer must do seven things. These include: (1) the confession of sin (Christ’s blood offering) (Lev. 4:3, 7; 1 Jo. 1:9); (2) humility and the removal of the offending flesh as a “spiritual sacrifice” to let Christ strengthen the believer (the bull offering and the removal of the flesh from the camp) (1 Pet. 2:5; Phil. 4:13; Lev. 4:11-12); (3) giving over to God the best of the person’s life and denying certain pleasures (the fat offering required as part of the peace offering) (Lev. 4:8-9); (4) giving to God control over that which makes the life pure (the kidney and liver offering from the peace offering) (Lev. 4:9-10); (5) prayers for the sins and restoration of the nation, the states, the communities, and churches (Lev. 4:13-21); (6) prayers for the restoration of leaders (Lev. 4:22-26); and (7) prayers for those around us in sin (Lev. 4:27-35). If we are obedient in following God’s rules, He will restore our peace and fellowship (Lev. 26:3-6; Dt. 28:2).
The sin of hearing God’s call and responding with silence. God’s standard of holiness is so high that it requires a believer to speak out when they either know of a concealed sin or of a person’s innocence. Failing to speak the truth puts the sin upon you and breaks your fellowship (not salvation) with God: “Now if a person sins after he hears a public adjuration to testify when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.” (Lev. 5:1). The Ninth Commandment makes it a sin to give false testimony or lie about someone else (Ex. 20:16). This includes gossip or slander (Lev. 19:16). God is truth and cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). If you lie, the devil temporarily becomes your “father” and you are placed under his influence: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (Jo. 8:44). Here, God reveals that the flip side of this Commandment is also a sin. It is also a sin to hear a call to speak or testify but to refuse to do so (Lev. 5:1). This directive could be narrowly construed to state that it is a sin to refuse to testify when called to testify in a civil or criminal trial. At a minimum, God’s Word carries this meaning. Yet, this directive has a much broader spiritual meaning. The sacrifices foreshadowed first what Christ did for us. They also foreshadow the “spiritual sacrifices” that we are to make today (1 Pet. 2:5). God has called all believers to testify to the hope that lies within them: “ . . always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (1 Pet. 3:15). Have you responded to this calling by sharing the Gospel to others? Or, have you stayed silent because you do not want to offend others?
The Holy Spirit has called us all to testify about Christ. Christ heard the call to testify for us. He sits on the throne room acting as a defense advocate or lawyer for us daily (Heb. 9:1-10). You too have been given God’s call to testify. The Holy Spirit commands you to testify about what Christ did for you (Jo. 14:26; 1 Pet. 3:15). We are called to share the truth of Christ as part of the Great Commission given to every Christian: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .” (Matt. 28:19). “[T]hat repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Lk. 24:47-8). “[T]hose who lead the many to righteousness, [shine] like the stars forever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3). According to James, if you know what is right or required, but you fail to do it, it is a sin: “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (Jam. 4:17). If we stay silent while the calling to testify lies within us we are guilty before God. Your silence could cost someone their salvation. Let the Holy Spirit’s conviction prompt you to share the hope that lies within you.
The Holy Spirit has called us to testify, to restore, and defend a fallen believer. When a brother or sister sins, we again have a calling to testify. First, we must testify to the fallen believer to restore the person: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restores such a one in a spirit of gentleness . . .” (Gal. 6:1). This is an appointed ministry for every believer, even if you are not a formal pastor: “God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18). Second, when others seek to condemn or accuse a believer, don’t follow their path. They gossip, slander, and act like Satan as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Instead, we must follow Christ’s example as He testifies daily for us, even when we are guilty (Heb. 9:1-10). Thus, when others testifying against a fallen believer, we are to defend the believer so that the person may be restored. Your silence could cause a scorned believer to leave God’s flock and fall further into sin. If you participate in the slander, you also could cause the scored believer never to come back.
The Holy Spirit calls to us testify on behalf of the weak and defenseless. While Christ was on Earth, He healed the sick, He restored sinners, He fed the masses, and He offered a path for salvation to all. He also did not stay silent when those around Him were in need. We too have been called to testify on behalf of the disadvantaged: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” (Prov. 31:9). “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Is. 1:17). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3). We are not called to be socialists. Yet, if we have no concern for the poor or oppressed, we ignore God’s calling, and we have wickedness in our hearts: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” (Prov. 31:9). “The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern.” (Prov. 29:7). Are you burdened for the poor, the sick and those caught in sin around you? Are you praying for them? Are you doing anything to help them?
Sins of touching. Under God’s high standards for holiness, it was against His Law for a believer to even touch a dead or an unclean animal. This included “unclean swarming things,” i.e. bugs. This would also temporarily break fellowship: ‘“Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean beast or the carcass of unclean cattle or a carcass of unclean swarming things, though it is hidden from him and he is unclean, then he will be guilty.”’ (Lev. 5:2). Jesus, however, condemned those who focused on this one small aspect of the law while ignoring the weightier matters of God’s law: “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:24). The Law also prohibited touching “human uncleanness,” i.e. certain body and illness-related discharges. “Or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort his uncleanness may be with which he becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty.” (Lev. 5:3). God may have been motivated to protect His people from spreading diseased through germs. Yet, just like the sin of silence when called to testify, His rules have a broader spiritual meaning. Death and disease came into the world because of sin (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21). Thus, the unclean animals and discharges must be understood as symbols of anything that is unclean around us. To maintain our fellowship with God, we must cleanse ourselves from our exposure to sin through “spiritual sacrifices.” (1 Pet. 2:5). We must avoid those things which are sinful and spiritually “unclean”. These include any kind of improper sexual touching: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: . . . to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jam. 1:27). If we have engaged in any these sins that involving touching, the sins will not stay hidden for long. They will spread and destroy your fellowship with God. Are you praying for God to reveal hidden impurities? “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts;” (Ps. 139:23). Are you seeking to avoid that which is spiritually unclean around you? Improper sexual touching will only lead to even greater sins.
Touching spiritually unclean things defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit. God warned the Jews that a person would die if that person brought uncleanness into God’s temple: “Thus, you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them.” (Lev. 16:31). Today, the Holy Spirit resides in a new temple – our bodies (1 Cor. 3:16-17). If defiling God’s temple brought death and if the Holy Spirit now resides in us, we must take God’s commandment to stay spiritually clean seriously: “For the mind set on the flesh is death . . ” (Rom. 8:6, 13). For “. . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 15:50). If we seek to cleanse ourselves, He will draw near to us: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (Jam. 4:8).
Remove those things which cause you to stumble. “[T]he lust of the flesh . .. is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). If we enjoy touching that which is spiritually unclean, we are hostile to God: “Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Rom. 8:7). “[A]nd those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:8). We must therefore deny ourselves when we are tempted to touch that which is spiritually unclean: “. . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14). “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,” (Mk. 9:43; Matt. 5:30; 18:18). Is there anything in your life that you need to cut out?
Failure to keep your word reveals weak personal integrity. It was also against the law for someone to thoughtlessly take an oath. “Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these.” (Lev. 5:4). This sin profanes God’s holy name. (Lev. 19:12). Thus, the penalty for this sin was death: “[T]he one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.” (Lev. 24:16). A careless oath or promise is the sign of a person without integrity. Thus, Jesus urged people not to make oaths that they might break: “you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord. But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet . . .But let your statements be, ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no’; anything else beyond these is of evil.” (Matt. 5:33-37; Jam. 5:12). Later, Jesus condemned the people of His day who claimed that a temple vow had no meaning unless it was a vow made based upon the temple’s gold (Matt. 23:16). He also asked that we count the cost before making a vow to Him (Lk. 14:28-33). This is why He spelled out the cost of discipleship before someone chose to walk closer to Him as a disciple as opposed to a mere follower (Lk. 9:57-62). Can people trust you to keep your word, even when times are tough? Or, do you only follow vows when it is convenient for you?
A broken vow also profanes God’s holy name. God warns us not to “swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God.” (Lev. 19:12). Doing so violates the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). God also warns that there are penalties for a broken vow made in His name. Because this profanes His holy name (Lev. 19:12), the penalty is death. “Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him.” (Lev. 24:16). This rule also was not limited to Jews. “The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.” (Lev. 24:16). “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” (Dt. 5:11). Adultery was also punishable by death (Lev. 20:10; Dt. 22:22). Thus, a person who breaks a wedding vow before God to commit adultery has two separate death sentences under the law.
A careless promise or oath is the root of many sins. The failure of the Church to take our oaths seriously is responsible for one of the greatest tragedies of our times, the breakdown of the family. Satan’s goal is to divide the families. After Adam and Eve sinned against God, his next attack was to have them blame each other. Because the Church does not take its vows seriously, nearly half of all Church marriages end in divorce. This in turn brings poverty, depression, and emotional problems for kids. Thus, to maintain God’s fellowship, we must treat our vows seriously. If we have made vows that prove difficult to keep, we must work to maintain our vows instead of giving up and casually breaking them.
If we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive us. When a believer became aware of sin involving their ears, mouth, hands, or eyes, the believer was required to make a “guilt” offering. “So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.” (Lev. 5:5). This was either a female lamb or a female goat. “He shall also bring his guilt offering to the LORD for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.” (Lev. 5:6). If the person was poor, the sinner could offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons. “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD his guilt offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. He shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first that which is for the sin offering and shall nip its head at the front of its neck, but he shall not sever it. He shall also sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar: it is a sin offering. The second he shall then prepare as a burnt offering according to the ordinance. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it will be forgiven him.” (Lev. 5:7-10). If the person was extremely poor, the sinner could offer “the tenth of an ephah of fine flour.” “But if his means are insufficient for two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then for his offering for that which he has sinned, he shall bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall not put oil on it or place incense on it, for it is a sin offering. He shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as its memorial portion and offer it up in smoke on the altar, with the offerings of the LORD by fire: it is a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has committed from one of these, and it will be forgiven him; then the rest shall become the priest's, like the grain offering.” (Lev. 5:11-13). Although sin offerings in every other circumstance required the shedding of blood, God may have allowed for a grain offering from the very poor because the guilt offering involved only the smallest hidden sins, like swallowing an unclean gnat. The flour was to allow even the most destitute person to cleanse their hidden sins. Yet, oil could not be part of this grain offering (Lev. 5:11). Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). Because the Holy Spirit cannot lead us to sin, oil could not be part of the guilt sacrifice. The feeling of “guilt” behind the offering was instead the conviction of the Spirit. God never wants to condemn us. Instead, He seeks to restore us. He promises to forgive us if we act upon our guilt and confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide . . .” (Ps. 32:5). Do you confess even the small sins in your life? If not, they won’t stay small for long.
Even our small sins are revolting to God. With either the lamb, the goat, or the birds, the priest needed to break the neck without severing it. The priest would then pour blood on the altar (Lev. 5:9). This would be gross to look at. Yet, this was again a visual reminder of how gross our sins appear to God. Even the smallest of our sins are revolting to God.
Our confession of sin should also be made with spiritual sacrifices. The animals each have symbolic spiritual meanings. The lamb represents the humility that comes from the sinner’s submission to God. The goat symbolized the casting off of one’s sins. In other words, the confession of sin comes with the sincere promise not to repeat the sin. The birds symbolize searching for peace from the Holy Spirit. The “fine flour” symbolized the crushing of one’s personal will to allow God’s will to control. The smoke at the altar symbolized the prayers of the sinner: “And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.” (Rev. 8:4). The different kinds of sacrifices suggest that we should give in proportion to what we have been given. We are to make these “spiritual sacrifices” as part of our guilt offering when we learn of our sins: “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5).
If we conceal our guilt, we will not prosper and our sin will spread. We are warned not to conceal our sins: “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Prov. 28:13). “Yet you said, ‘I am innocent; surely His anger is turned away from me.’ Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.”’ (Jer. 2:35). “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jo. 1:8). You must therefore repent of any sin the Holy Spirit shows you. If not, your fellowship with God will be broken.
Failing to tithe is robbery against God. God also required a guilt offering for someone who sinned regarding the use of “the Lord’s holy things.” “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the LORD’s holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering.” (Lev. 5:14-15). Because the money that we receive comes from God (Jam. 1:17), the misuse of the money He provides is a sin involving His holy things. When we fail to give back a portion of the money that God has given us, the Bible tells us that we have “robbed” God: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!” (Mal. 3:8-9). Have you withheld your tithes from God? If so, you are withholding funds that God meant for feeding the needy and helping the oppressed.
The penalty for a trespass against God. For some trespasses against God’s “holy things”, the penalty was death. For example, when Uzzah unintentionally trespassed against the Lord by reaching out to grab the ark of God when an oxen stumbled, his penalty was death (2 Sam. 6:6-7). For other kinds of sins against God’s property, He required a ram offering plus a 20% penalty tithe. “He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him.” (Lev. 5:16). Ignorance of the sin or what the Law required was no excuse. “Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment. He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it will be forgiven him. It is a guilt offering; he was certainly guilty before the LORD.” (Lev. 5:17-19). If you were to think of every time you received a dollar and failed to pay a tithe, imagine how large your ledger must now be with the 20% penalty added to it?
Jesus was the ram offering paid for our sins. The first time a ram was offered was when Abraham was about to offer Isaac. God then provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice: “Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.” (Gen. 22:13). The ram caught in the thick of thorns foreshadows Jesus. He wore a crown of thorns. He was offered as our substitute “guilt” or trespass offering against God. “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:10-11). Being freed of your debts, this should motivate you to give your life as a “living sacrifice” to Jesus for what He did for you on the cross. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Ro. 12:1). Have you given thanks that Jesus has paid the penalties for your thefts against God and others? If so, show your gratitude through a life without sin.
Be a cheerful giver and God will bless you. Today, God does not want you to give out of obligation. He wants you to be a cheerful giver: “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7). “You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.” (Dt. 15:10). If you give to God with the right motives, He will bless you back more than you have given. ‘“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” (Mal. 3:10). If you are tithing, are you giving with a cheerful heart? If you are struggling financially, have you considered tithing more? This is the one place in the entire Bible where God invites you to test Him. Even if you are not blessed back financially, He will be faithful to bless you in other ways. You will also help the needy and the oppressed. In addition to tithing, will you offer your time and prayers for them?
God requires that a sinner restore his or her victims. In the case of embezzlement, theft, extortion, or theft of lost property under false pretenses, God required as a “guilt” offering that the sinner give back the stolen property to restore the victim. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, when a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found,” (Lev. 6:1-4). The Hebrew word for “guilt offering” is Asham. It means indemnity, reparation, or restitution. In other words, it means that the sinner must make the victim whole. Saying that you are sorry does not by itself fulfill God’s law. Are there victims of your sins that you need to make whole?
God also requires payment of at least a 20% penalty for theft. In the case of any type of theft, the sinner was to restore all stolen funds plus at least a fifth of the value of the stolen property as a penalty or 120% total. “or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering.” (Lev. 6:5). Where the theft deprived someone of their livelihood (symbolized by animals), the penalty was twice the value of the stolen property: “If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.” (Ex. 22:4). If the sinner had no remorse, the penalty was four times the value of the property: “He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” (2 Sam. 12:6). Restitution is a central component of Torah law. Its origin is the Bible. Christians teach of the need for forgiveness. Yet, when was the last time you heard a church preach need for restitution to be paid to the victims of your sins?
Christ paid for your trespasses against God, but we still must restore our victims. Theft also required the payment of a ram offering for the sin against God. “Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.” (Lev. 6:6-7). When we steal, we profane God’s holy name as His representatives. “[O]r lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” (Prov. 30:8-9). Jesus became the ram (“guilt”) offering and relieved us of the obligation to perform this sacrifice: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:10-11). When we confess our wrongs, Christ will forgive us: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Yet, Christ did not relieve us of our obligation to restore our victims. After Zaccheus accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, he promised to pay restitution four times above the amount that he had defrauded from others in the past: “Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’” (Lk. 19:8). This suggests that Zacchaeus had defrauded others in the past without any remorse: “He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” (2 Sam. 12:6). Jesus did not correct him or say that this was unnecessary. Thus, believers should follow Zaccheus’ example in restoring those who they hurt. If you fail to restore those whom you hurt, what kind of a witness for Christ are you?
God will not accept our offerings unless we first restore our victims. God commands that a person pay restitution “on the day he presents his guilt offering.” (Lev. 6:6). Jesus later clarified that we must restore our victims before we seek God’s forgiveness: “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt. 5:23-24). Although failing to do this will not affect your salvation, failing to do this will affect your fellowship with God. Are there any people that you have wronged who need to be made whole?
We must also forgive those who refuse to pay restitution to us. If someone refuses to apologize or pay restitution for a sin against us, Christ still commands that we forgive them: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matt. 6:12). If you refuse to forgive someone, God cannot forgive you: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matt. 6:14-15). Are you burdened by grudges against anyone?
Restitution must be taught in churches. Restitution is not only a central part of our civil and criminal justice systems, it is also central to God’s Law. Jesus did not fulfill this obligation. You won’t lose your salvation when you commit this sin. Yet, it may break your fellowship. Thus, in order to help people maintain fellowship, it must be taught in Churches as well.
Failing to pay restitution also makes you a poor witness for God. You are Christ’s ambassador on Earth. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20). As His ambassador, your light should represent Him: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 5:14). If you were to run over a person’s bike and only say you were sorry, you would not have made your victim whole. Moreover, you would poorly reflect what it means to be a believer. Your actions would suggest a self-centered heart without any love for others whom you have wronged. Yet, if you are the victim of another person’s sins, you must still forgive if the person fails to pay you restitution or make you whole following a wrong.
Keep a clear conscience and show yourself faithful in the small tests of holiness. The guilt and trespass offering can also be thought of as establishing a clear conscience. If we stay pure with the small things and we correct our wrongs against others, we will keep a clear conscience. This in turn maintains our peace with God. If you are faithful to be holy in the smallest of things and in how you treat others, you also show God that you are ready for Him to entrust you with even greater responsibilities for His Kingdom.