THE FESTIVAL OF ATONEMENT DURING THE GOSPEL AGE OF SALVATION
The observance of the Day of Atonement during this age of salvation is very different from its observance under the original covenant with ancient Israel. Today, atonement is given through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ's sacrificial blood, which provides perfect, complete, and final atonement for all types of sins.
Under the first agreement with national Israel, only certain types of sin could be atoned for by the blood sacrifices. Anyone who committed a sin for which there was no atonement had to be put to death.
Although certain sins such as physical defilement and spiritual and moral violations of the law could be atoned for, they were never absolutely removed or forgotten, because the blood of sacrificial animals was of less value than the human life for which it was substituted. Therefore, sin that was atoned for by the blood of animals was only temporarily set aside.
Under the new agreement, all sins, including capital crimes (except for blasphemy), can be forgiven, forgotten, and removed forever through the application of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
For the elect of God, there is no need to be reconciled to God and have their past physical defilement and spiritual sin atoned for through the blood of an animal because they have been purged of all sin forever through the sacrificial blood of Christ.
Under the first agreement with national Israel, the Day of Atonement was a time when the nation of Israel was commanded to assemble together to worship God. On this day, they were also commanded to perform a physical fast in order to humble themselves before God in anticipation of being reconciled with him, having their physical defilement removed from the nation, and having their punishment for their spiritual and moral sins set aside, so that God would dwell among them for another year.
Under the new agreement with the elect of God, the Day of Atonement celebrates the fact that the elect of God are totally reconciled to God the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and they can always stand before him as righteous individuals who have the spirit of God dwelling within them.
Today, the Day of Atonement should be celebrated with the understanding that past sins are totally forgiven and forgotten through Christ's atoning blood, and that any present or future sin will automatically be forgiven upon request to the Father, through the application of Jesus' atoning blood. Moreover, the sinlessness and righteousness of the elect is maintained before the Father through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.
A Holy Nation
The elect of God under the new agreement are called to be a holy nation as were the Israelites:
"Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for the earth is mine: And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. . ." (Ex.19:5-6 KJV).
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1.Pet.2:9 Para.).
In order to understand the meaning of the Day of Atonement for those under the new agreement, it is necessary to review the Book of Hebrews, chapters 9 and 10, and many other scriptures that speak of the removal of sinpast, present, and future.
The Book of Hebrews
There are three basic ideas about reconciliation presented in the Book of Hebrews:
1. The system of worship at the tabernacle and temple was only a shadow, a replica, an imperfect imitation of heavenly things. It was through these shadows and imperfect copies of heavenly things that access to God could be made and maintained.
2. The sacrificial worship system provided a way through which people could be brought back into fellowship with God after they had been found guilty of violating his law.
3. The Book of Hebrews was written to the elect of God who had been washed clean of all sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and stood as righteous individuals before God the Father.
Hebrews chapters nine and ten explain the process of reconciliation to God the Father through the sacrifice of Christ in the context of the Day of Atonement.
Because of the extreme importance of the subject being discussed, the writer to the Hebrews goes over the same points many times using different examples and analogies. Perhaps, he does this to make sure that there is no doubt about what he is saying about the atoning power of the blood of Christ in relation to justification, reconciliation, forgiveness of sin, and the purity and holiness of God's people.
Hebrews 9:1-28 KJV
"Then Truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second vail, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God" (vs.1-6).
The tabernacle and all the things in it were for the purpose of being able to fellowship with and formally worship God.
"But into the second [the Most Holy Place, behind the vail] went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (v7).
Verse 7 clearly shows the two major aspects of the Day of Atonement concerning the Most Holy Place for which the blood of atonement was necessary:
1. The blood was used to cover and remove physical defilement (ceremonial and physical impurity) from the Most Holy Place within the tabernacle, the tabernacle itself, the altar, the priesthood, and the nation as a whole.
2. The blood was also used to set aside spiritual and moral defilement (sin) that was done unintentionally or through ignorance.
In verse 7, the writer to the Hebrews uses the Greek word 'agnoema', which can mean 'to make an error' or 'to err unintentionally or through ignorance'. He uses this word to distinguish the type of sins that were atoned for under the first agreement with national Israel from the ones that were totally forgiven and erased under the new agreement, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
It is important to know that, throughout the new agreement when the word 'sin' is used, it almost always refers to spiritual sin rather than physical defilement (ceremonial and physical impurity).
"The holy spirit thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:" (v8).
While the sacrificial system of worship was still in effect together with the existence of the tabernacle and temple, no one except the high priest could come before the glorified presence of God. The way was closed to all others until the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the spiritual high priest.
"Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and diverse washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation" (vs.9-10).
The tabernacle and the temple that came after it were a type of substitute. They were a prophetic and symbolic representation to be used until the reformation of God's worship system under the terms and conditions of the new agreement.
Although sacrifices were performed in exact detail, the person offering these sacrifices could not be made perfect by them. The reason for this is that all humans live in an impure world (i.e., a world full of physical impurity). By virtue of their physical existence, all humans are subject to physically impurity and all humans sin (i.e., violate the law of God). Therefore, anything that is imperfect to begin with cannot be made perfect by something that is only symbolic of perfection.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;" (v11).
Jesus is the spiritual high priest who administers God the Father's worship system through the heavenly temple. Therefore, during the gospel age of salvation, the worship system that required a priesthood to be in attendance at a specific physical location on earth is no longer necessary for the elect of God.
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (v12).
Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would bring the blood of the bull and the goat into the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the nation of Israel. However, through the sacrifice of his own blood, Jesus Christ entered the Most Holy Place in heaven to make the final atonement for the sins of all humanity.
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (vs.13-14).
An animal sacrifice could only temporally atone for physical impurity that placed a barrier between God and man, but the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ totally eliminated the need for any further sacrifice. Thereby, his sacrifice opened the way for direct worship, contact, and fellowship with God the Father. Because Jesus was sinless, having the presence of the holy spirit dwelling within him (Jn.3:34), he had no need to come before God with a sacrificial animal to expiate physical impurity. Additionally, because he was ceremonially pure and spiritually sinless, he could present himself before God the Father as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of all sin.
"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (v15).
Because Christ was both physically and spiritually sinless, he could offer the perfect sacrifice; thereby, he replaced the Aaronic priesthood with a spiritual priesthood of a higher order.
Jesus Christ is the spiritual high priest, mediator, and administrator of the agreement between God the Father and the sons of his new creation.
Another extremely important point in verse 15 is that all those who were called by God to salvation prior to Christ's death and resurrection and lived a righteous life will also participate in the benefits of the new agreement between the elect and God the Father. Those people have retroactively received the total forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God the Father that was promised to them concerning the Messiah. Therefore, they have also received salvation through Christ's sacrificial blood:
"For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives" (vs.16-17).
The old and new agreements and the death of the one making the testament are all connected. Under the first agreement, an animal's life was used as the symbolic death of the one who made the will (i.e., the Creator God), and through this death, the testament was purified and sealed as a holy document:
"Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry" (vs.18-21).
Here, the writer mentions blood, water, scarlet wool, and hyssop. This is important because it is the only place in the scriptures where these are mentioned together in reference to Moses and the ratification of the covenant (Ex.24:8). Moreover, all of these items were used in the atonement and purification rituals that were done to set people and things apart for holy use (Lev.14:4,49-52; Num.19:6).
The Scarlet Wool
The scarlet wool is particularly interesting, because it is used in the rituals of purification and the designation of heirs; moreover, it is symbolic of the promise of salvation. See Gen.38:28-30; Josh.2:18-21.
Although it is not recorded in the scriptures, there were three uses of a red wool thread in the Day of Atonement rituals which are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud and the Mishna. One red thread was tied around the neck of the goat to be slain, one was tied on the head of the goat to be set free, and one was tied to the door of the sanctuary. It is said that, when the goat that was set free entered the wilderness, the red thread tied to the sanctuary door turned white. It is also recorded that, after 30 A.D. (the year of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), the red thread that was placed on the door of the sanctuary never again turned white. See Yoma 39b Babylonian Talmud and pages 166, 170 Mishna, by Danby.
The Prophet Isaiah records that God would remove sins that are the color of scarlet and crimson, a deep, blood-red color:
"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa.1:16-18 KJV).
Clearly, the red thread represents sin and the atonement for sin that was symbolically placed upon the two goats and symbolically atoned for by each goat. The turning white of the thread tied to the sanctuary was a sign that the sin of Israel had been removed from God's sight.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there was no need for the sacrificial system to remove spiritual and moral sin, because a new agreement had been established that removed the necessity for the sacrifice of an animal life to atone for moral and spiritual sin. Now, the blood of Jesus Christ purges away all sin. Therefore, the sign of the red thread turning white, which pictured Israel's sin being completely atoned for through the sacrificial system, ceased.
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (v22).
Verses 18-22, clearly show that it is by the blood of atonement that all things are purified from ceremonial, spiritual, and moral defilement and made holy to God. Clearly, the punishment for sin is death; therefore, without the loss of life, the penalty for sin cannot be paid. This is why the writer to the Hebrews says "without shedding of blood is no remission."
"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (v23).
The tabernacle and later, the temple of the sacrificial system were representations of what is in heaven and these representations had to be kept in a purified condition through the blood of animals, which was also prophetic and symbolic of the blood of Christ. However, the things in heaven, which these earthly things represented had to be presented with a perfect sacrifice in order to permanently seal the breach between God and humanity.
There could be no entry into the heavenly temple where God the Father dwells unless a perfect life that originated from heaven was sacrificed to purge away the sin of humanity.
"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he [Jesus] often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (vs.24-26).
The sacrificial blood of Christ was not brought into a temple, his sacrifice was offered outside the temple and it was possibly offered at the place on the Mount of Olives where the sacrifices for purification were burnt. His sacrifice was accepted into the heavenly temple of God the Father as the perfect and final sacrifice for the purging of both physical and spiritual defilement (sin); therefore, anyone who becomes the Father's son can come before him pure and sinless without defilement of any kind.
Everyone must die once, but some people will die again in the resurrection to the second death; however, those who come under the sacrificial blood of Christ are judged worthy of eternal and immortal life:
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (vs.27-28).
"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 continually year by year make the offerer perfect" (v1 Para.).
The law of the sacrifices was only a shadow, a pale reflection of the reality that was to come in the person of Jesus Christ. These sacrifices were imperfect; therefore, they could not remove sin or its penalty. They were imperfect, because they were only prophetic and symbolic shadows of the real thing. They were worth less than the human life for which they were to atone; therefore, the penalty for sin still remained unpaid, waiting for perfect redemption through the Messiah.
Only through a perfect sacrifice could a sinner have sins purged away, forgiven, and forgotten; thereby, the sinner is made righteous (without sin), pure, and perfect before God. This kind of atonement was not possible through animal sacrifices:
"For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged, should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance of sins every year" (vs.2-3 Para.).
If it had been possible for these substitutes of human life (animal sacrifices) to pay the penalty for a guilty person's sin, no more sacrifices would have been necessary. If animal sacrifices were sufficient to pay the penalty for sin, the sinner would not have been guilty because the punishment for sin would have been exacted, which would have made the person sinless. Therefore, there would be no sin to bring to remembrance. However, animal sacrifices could not pay the penalty for sin because they were not of sufficient value:
"For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (v4 KJV).
Because the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement were only substitutions (prophetic and symbolic shadows of the real thing) they could not be a perfect remedy for sin.
"Wherefore when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure" (vs.5-6 KJV).
It is clear from the scriptures that there had been a heavenly plan before human existence to replace the sacrificial system with a far better system in order to allow humanity to commune with God. The sacrificial system itself did not give God pleasure; it was the result of the process in which he took pleasure, which was the dwelling and communing with his people:
"Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;" (vs.7-8 KJV).
The Creator God personally came to eliminate the system that prevented direct communication and fellowship between the God family and the children of God. He came to fulfill the prophetic and symbolic meaning of the Day of Atonement. What the blood of animals could not do, his blood would do.
Because Jesus Christ was perfect physically and spiritually, he was the perfect sacrifice through which all past and future violations of the law could be totally forgiven and their penalty totally eliminated and forgotten.
Then he said, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first that he may set up the second" (v9 Para.).
Jesus Christ came to replace the first agreement with national Israel with a new one that does not require a sacrificial system or an attending priesthood to atone for the spiritual and moral sins of humanity. Because his sacrifice was worth more than all human or animal life, it was the ultimate and final atonement for all sin. Therefore, animal sacrifices that were of less value than human life became unnecessary for the sons of God. See our study papers, The New Creation and The First Resurrection.
"By which we are set a part through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (v10).
It is through the sacrifice of Christ that those called by God the Father under the new agreement are set apart for a holy purpose and purged of all their physical and spiritual defilement, in order to become sons of the Father's new creation and a temple of the living God.
"And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" (vs.11-12 KJV).
It is clear that the sacrificial system could restore and maintain the relationship between God and man. However, this was an ongoing physical process in which the results were only temporary despite the diligence of a physical priesthood and a dedicated people. But, Christ's sacrifice did not depend upon the diligence or dedication of people, because it was perfect in every way; therefore, it only needed to be offered once in order to guarantee eternal results:
"From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (vs.13-14 KJV).
Never again will it be necessary for one man to offer sacrifices for another's violation of God's law. Anyone who comes under the blood of Christ is purged from all sin and made righteous before God the Father for eternity. However, a child of God must have a serious desire to remain righteous forever, in order for God to maintain them in a righteous condition.
"Whereof the holy spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;" (vs.15-16 KJV).
The promise God makes to place his law within the innermost being of an individual can only be kept if the person receiving the law is sinless. This is because the law of God is holy, eternal, and spiritual in nature and it must be placed within a person through the power of God's holy spirit. And the holy spirit can only dwell and continue to dwell where there is an absence of sin. Therefore, perfect redemption was necessary in order for the law to be placed within the heart, mind, and spirit of man. This perfect redemption of the spirit of man and the separation from physical and spiritual defilement could only be accomplished through Christ's sacrificial blood:
"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (vs.17-18 KJV).
Under the terms and conditions of the new agreement, which was ratified and sealed through the blood of Christ, the elect of God have perfect forgiveness of sinpast, present, and future. As the elect of God continue their daily lives, the atoning power of Christ's sacrificial blood continues to wash away their sins as they avail themselves of its cleansing and redemptive power. In this way, the life of a child of God, the atoning blood of Christ, and the prophetic and symbolic meaning of the Day of Atonement is continually fulfilled on a daily basis.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh;" (vs.19-20 KJV).
Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, where the Creator God's presence was once a year to make an atonement for the people's sins. Now, through the blood of Christ, the elect of God can enter into the presence of God the Father any time they want to and communicate and fellowship with him, because they stand before him as righteous and sinless individuals.
"My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1.Jn.2:1-2 KJV). See also 1.Jn.1:5-9.
Made Holy Through Blood and Water
"And having a great priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies having been washed with pure water" (Heb.10:21-22 Para.).
Christ was the promised Messiah whom Isaiah foretold would come to atone for the sins of all humanity.
"So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which has not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider" (Isa.52:15 KJV). See also Heb.12:23-24; 1.Pet.1:2.
Both the sprinkling of blood and the washing with water were acts of purification and removal of impurity and unholiness.
Through the sprinkling of blood and the washing with water, objects were cleansed of their physical impurity, made holy, and set aside for holy use. Moreover, through these two rituals, people were cleansed of physical impurity, had their spiritual and moral sins set aside, were made holy, and set aside for holy use.
Under the new agreement, it is the blood of Jesus Christ and the water of baptism through which total purification is accomplished. In fact, it is through the sacrificial blood of Jesus that our sin is forgiven and we are washed clean of the defilement that prevents us from coming before the Father to receive his spirit.
Although baptism is symbolic of a physical death and a resurrection, it actually means much more. During this ceremony, the person is washed clean from all physical defilement and purged of all sin by the power of God's spirit through the sacrifice of Christ. Moreover, the baptized person becomes devoid of sin, is righteous before God the Father, and is ready to receive the indwelling of his holy spirit.
Verses 21-22, clearly show that those who have the blood of Christ applied to them and are washed in the baptismal waters are indeed purged of all sin, whether it is physical or spiritual defilement. In addition, they are transformed into a condition of holiness before God the Father.
Paul, Titus, and John all spoke about the washing away of sin by pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of God's spirit:
"And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16 NIV).
"Do you not know that the unjust ones will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous ones, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor plunderers shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And some of you were these things, but you are washed; but you were sanctified; but you were justified in the nature of the Lord Jesus, and in the spirit of our God" (1.Cor.6:9-11 Para.).
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing of regeneration, and the renewal of the holy spirit; Which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Tit.3:4-6 Para.).
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Psa.51:1-12; Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13; Heb.13:12; 1.Jn.1:1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.
The elect of God are made holy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by having their sins forgiven and washed away through the redemptive power of his blood; therefore, they can be close to God because they are people who are holy and set apart for his holy purpose.
Chapters 9 and 10 of Hebrews show the following reasons for the tremendous importance of Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice:
The Festival of Atonement is a time for the elect of God to give thanks and celebrate their ongoing condition of sinlessness and righteousness before God the Father, which was made possible through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
"For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psa.103:11-12 KJV).
In this psalm, King David foretold the time when Christ would come and offer the perfect sacrifice to forgive sin and remove its penalty forever.
"Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature" (Col.1:13-15 KJV).
The apostle Paul also spoke of this reconciliation to God the Father by the blood of Christ. He said that we shall be saved from death through Christ, we are made innocent before God the Father by the death of his Son, and because Jesus lives, we are saved.
Christ, the Lamb of God
"Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy. And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God" (1.Pet.1:16-21 KJV). See also Isa.53:4-6,12; Jn.3:16; 1:29.
"Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world" (Jn.1:29 Para.).
1. John 3:7-10 Paraphrased
The apostle John also speaks of the purity and sinlessness of those who have been reconciled to God the Father through the blood of Christ:
"Little children, let no one lead you astray; the one practicing righteousness, is righteous, even as the One is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the Devil, because the Devil sinned from the beginning. For this reason the Son of God was revealed, so that he would destroy the devil's work" (vs.7-8).
The work of the Devil spoken of here refers to the deception of Eve and Adam, which resulted in humanity being placed under the death sentence for the violation of God's righteous law. Christ has destroyed the Devil's work by his righteous life and perfect sacrifice. Thereby, he removed the death sentence for those who obey God and he provided a way for them to continually stand before God the Father as righteous individuals.
"Everyone being begotten of God does not sin, because his seed [the spirit of God] abides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God" (v9).
It is impossible to understand what John is saying here unless one understands that the holy spirit that resides within the children of God keeps them in a sinless condition before God the Father. This sinless condition is made possible through the blood of Christ by which all sin is forgiven and washed away, in order to make the elect of God holy and a fit place for the spirit of God to dwell.
As long as a child of God is seeking to live a righteous life and does not willfully and habitually practice sin, no sin is imputed. This is so, because Christ lives in the children of God through the spirit of God. Therefore, his righteous qualifications as the sacrificial Lamb of God are also attributed to the children of God, which keeps them in a sinless condition. See Rom.8:33-34, 1.Jn.1:1-7, 2:1-2; 5:18, and our study paper concerning the indwelling of God the Father's holy spirit:
"By this the children of God and the children of the Devil are revealed: Every one not practicing righteousness is not of God" (v10).
In the following scripture, John's words can be applied to the meaning of the Day of Atonement for the elect of God:
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1.Jn.1:5-9 Para.).
The Living Temple
Everything used in the service of God and in the place where his presence resides must be clean, pure, and sinless. God will not dwell where there is sin, nor will he allow anything impure or sinful to come into his presence. See Ex.29:36-46; Lev.19:2; Deut.23:14; 1.Pet.1:15-16.
Chapters 8 and 9 of Leviticus show that preparation and purification of the priesthood was necessary in order for them to serve God in the Tabernacle. It is important to read both of these chapters in order to gain a clear understanding of the importance that God places upon the purification process.
Many do not realize that God has not changed and that, under the new agreement with national Israel and the elect of God today, he still requires all things that come into close contact with him to be free from physical impurity and spiritual sin. This is why the sacrificial blood of Christ was necessary. And it is through Christ's blood that the elect may become and remain pure and sinless before God the Father. See Mal.3:6; Heb.9:22-28.
The Temple of Flesh
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2.Cor.6:16-18 LBP).
Because God will not allow his spirit to inhabit an impure place, a physical and a spiritual change must be made in order for him to dwell within the elect of God. This transformation is possible because of the perfect sacrifice of Christ, which has the power to erase physical and spiritual defilement in preparation for the indwelling of the spirit of God.
In the baptismal water, the Father purifies the physical body through his spirit-power, so that his holy spirit (his spirit-presence) can dwell within the repentant believer's physical body. See 1.Tim.5:22; Tit.1:15-16; Heb.10:14-22; 1.Pet.1:22; 1.Jn.3:1-3; 4:4.
"Haven't you yet learned that your body is the home of the holy spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you. For God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it" (1.Cor.6:19-20 LPB).
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).
"Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom you are also built together for an habitation of God through the spirit" (Eph.2:19-22 Para.).
The writings of the apostles leave no doubt that the physical body of a child of God is a temple of God; it is a sacred place where the holy spirit dwells.
"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love having been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because of his spirit that he has given to us" (1.Jn.4:12-13 Para.). See Lk.24:46-49; Acts 5:32.
The Most Holy Place and the Day of Atonement
Within the heart of the tabernacle and the temple that came after it, was the Most Holy Place where the high priest met with God once a year on the Day of Atonement. In this most sacred place was the ark of the covenant where the presence of God resided. Within the ark of the covenant were the Ten Commandments written in stone by the finger of God, Aaron's rod that signified the high priest's authorization to meet with God and intercede for the people of Israel, and some of the food that God sent from heaven to sustain the Israelites as they traveled in the wilderness.
Today, the Father's name rests upon his children and his presence dwells within the innermost part of their flesh through the power of his holy spirit. All those who have the name and presence of the Father dwelling within them are a temple of God on earth.
Within this temple of flesh, the law of God is written in the hearts of his children. As long as they live within this temple of flesh, they have the authority to communicate with, serve, and worship the Father, and receive daily spiritual nourishment to sustain them as they journey through life. Moreover, the Most Holy Place on earth is within the children of God; it is where the spirit of God resides and where God the Father and Jesus Christ meet with those who are called to salvation.
Under the original covenant with national Israel, the blood of animals was offered so that God could remain in the presence of his people. The blood of Jesus was offered so that people could have their sins forgiven, be made a part of the Father's family, live in his presence, and have his presence within them.
The elect of God are reconciled to the Father through the blood of Christ, repentance, and baptism and they are God's temple on earth with his spirit dwelling within them.
The children of God are kept continuously righteous and undefiled through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, so that God's spirit can continuously remain within them.
There are two very important things the elect of God should always remember, celebrate, and thank the Father and Jesus Christ for on the Day of Atonement:
1. As children of God, we are a holy and righteous beings in which the presence of God dwells.
2. As children of God, we have a promise that his presence will always remain within us.
"For he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say that the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" (Heb.13:5-6 KJV).
By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w60