|Leviticus 5; Psalms 3–4; Proverbs 20; Colossians 3|
Jon’s post from yesterday was a refreshing reminder of the gospel message – “when Jesus offered his body and blood as a sacrifice, he paid off all of our sinful debt, past, present, and future.” This is the Good News, it is the source of the hope we have as followers of Jesus Christ! Today I want to go back to Leviticus and ground us on why we need Jesus, remind us how we got from the Law in Leviticus to Paul’s message of grace through faith in Romans, then look at today’s passage in Colossians to see what a “new creation” looks like.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
In each of the first five chapters of Leviticus, we have read about different types of offerings – burnt offerings versus grain offerings, and different situations in which a sacrifice is required: peace offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. These are extremely detailed instructions to God’s people for exactly how sacrifices were to be performed in order to achieve the expected outcome – payment for sin. I’ll be honest, I’m not completely straight on the difference between some of the offerings, and in what situation each was needed. I also find it really easy to get distracted by all the details of how to arrange the body parts and what to do with the blood when the sacrifices involved animals. Even so, the main points are crystal clear:
- God is serious about sin. He hates it. It separates us from Him.
- Because of his love for mankind, however, God made a way for us to atone for our sins and be reconciled to him.
- In the Old Testament, atonement was achieved through the sacrifices we read about in Leviticus.
After Jesus’ death/burial/resurrection, we are no longer bound by Old Testament law. We no longer have to atone for our sin through the sacrifices described in Leviticus. We no longer need a priest to be the intermediary between us and God. Again, “[Jesus] paid off all of our sinful debt, past, present, and future”. The Holy Spirit lives inside us.
John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Ephesians 2:8, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
While this is the Good News, we must not forget the nature of God – he is unchanging. The God we serve today is the same God the children of Israel served in the Old Testament. He is Holy. He required the children of Israel to be Holy and requires us to be holy. Yes, we are still sinful. Yes, Jesus paid the price for these sins. But salvation does not absolve us of the responsibility to take up our cross every day, to faithfully follow after Jesus, and continue the process changing our hearts to look like his. Today’s passage in Colossians 3 shows us what taking up our cross and faithfully following Jesus looks like in our lives:
Focusing on the eternal versus the temporal:
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Turning away from sinful practices:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Choosing actions that reflect a Godly character/the Fruit of the Spirit:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Reflect on verse 15 for a minute, “Let the peace of Christ RULE in your heart”. Insert the definition of the word rule, as a verb, in this sentence. “Let the peace of Christ [exercise ultimate power or authority over] your heart.” Letting go and giving control over to Jesus is the only path to accomplish the command in verse 17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.
God, today would you please show me places in my life where I am still in control? Please soften my heart. Help me surrender all to you.