"When a person commits a violation and sins
unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord's holy things, he is to bring
to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the
proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt
offering. He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in
regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all
to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt
offering, and he will be forgiven." Leviticus 5:15-16
Sin is a monster which has many forms! Each form has many
hands. Each hand deals wounds. Each wound is death. It touches to destroy.
But for each wound help is prepared. Jesus appears omnipotent to heal.
This is the truth, which Eden heard; which types
displayed; which prophets sang; which cheered the saints of old; which
martyrs sealed with blood; which faithful pastors still proclaim. This is
the truth, which Satan hates; which infidelity derides; which worldlings
tread beneath contemptuous feet. But it lives throughout the Bible-page; and
will live forever—the joy of heaven and the rage of hell. This is the
prospect, to which the Guilt offering calls. It shows a pillar with a
two-fold front. One indeed sternly asks for penalty. But the other brightens
with atonement made.
Reader, the verses, which here meet your eye, state the
first case of Guilt offering. It will suffice to ponder this. The other
instances in name may vary, but in principle are one.
A soul commits a trespass, and sins through ignorance in
holy things. God's law is thus infringed—His will transgressed. The rewards
of heaven are withheld. Such are the features of offence.
Can unintentional sins be but trifles? Shall no wrath
arise? Shall deeds unholy cause no holy frown? This cannot be. Iniquity is
hated by our God. Can he be clean who loathes not filth? Can he be pure, who
shrinks not from impurity? Would not God's throne be tarnished, if sin be
Let this ordinance be heard. First, the Guilt offering
unveils God's wrath. Offence is dealt with terribly. The trespasser must
seek the altar with a ram. The victim must lay down his life. The blood must
flow. The costliest parts must be the food of flames. Where trespass has
been, death must flow. So speaks this witness, with no faltering voice.
Is the question asked, why is the life thus taken? What
means such a sacrifice, terrible in death and gore. The answer loudly
thunders, Trespass brings death! No soul can sin and live. Such is
the language of this solemn rite. Let all, who hear take heed.
Ignorance of this truth is the dark veil, which blinds
our race. It is the downward path, which slopes to hell. Alas! how few
believe, that all the streams of trespass flow to ruin's gulf.
Survey the giddy crowds, who throng earth's path. The
mirth—the levity—the godless words—the silly unconcern, prove, that they
little know the peril of their state. The current of their thoughts—the bias
of their being—the channel of their words and works, widely transgress the
law's strict rule, and still they sport, as moths around a flame. They fall
to sleep, as Sisera in Jael's tent. Judges 4:21. They take the dainties from
a treacherous hand, but neither see the hammer nor the nails. Like Amasa,
they seek a friend's embrace; but heed not the sword which Joab holds. 2
Sam. 20:10. Thus multitudes unconsciously are slain.
But this rite specially condemns transgression in God's
holy things. Alas! this is a frequent case. Many
sacrilegiously invent a religion of their own conceit. God plainly speaks
from His high throne. He states His will. He shows the only path to heaven.
But man's indifference refuses to be taught. He pursues the light, which
erring reason kindles. He chooses the rags of sinful human nature, rather
than the Gospel-robe. But none reach heaven by such Babel-steps. This
trespass cloaked in a fair guise, allures a Cain-like crowd. But it is
trespass, and it slays the soul.
Some would buy heaven by the price of 'religious forms'.
They bring the offering of 'external rites' duly kept. They diligently tread
the 'ceremonial round'. They never doubt, that 'ritual strictness' will
secure the crown.
Reader, take heed of error here. Truth is a narrow line.
Men easily diverge. On either side there is a foul descent. In Satan's creed
there are opposing falsehoods. One lowers 'forms' to dust. The other raises
them to saving worth. He cares not which delusion is embraced. But each
delusion is soul-peril. Forms are not nothing. They are ordained of God.
They feed the soul. They fan the flame of faith. Their due observance proves
the inward life. This is their Scripture-place.
But means will never cleanse one sin. They have no
strength to hold back vengeance. Woe then is theirs, who use them as their
only plea, and clasp them, as their only hope. Would that each eye discerned
this snare! Would that each pulpit gave a warning note! This error only
lives in dens of ignorance. It cannot breathe when dragged to light. But it
is sin. Therefore it is death. The Gospel slighted, leaves no hope.
But when heaven's rays in mercy dissipate these
mists—when error, as a murderer, is seen—then the deep sigh is heard, "Is
there no remedy—no refuge—no escape? Must everlasting vengeance seize me as
Now view the Trespass offering again. While faith
beholds, a saving gleam breaks forth. A dying victim comes. A substituted
life is taken. Another suffers in the offender's place. Pardon is granted
through a proxy's blood.
Believer, here is the picture, in which faith delights. A
Guilt offering is prepared in Christ. He is made all your sin. He drinks
your every drop of woe. Amazing grace! Astounding love! This is God's way to
save. This is the song of all the saved—the joy of all, who really joy—the
hope of all, who have true hope. This is the fact, which conquers death, and
tramples on the grave, and gives enduring peace, and furnishes resistless
pleas, and satisfies each attribute of God, and crowns Jehovah with His
brightest crown. Look clearly at this ordinance. The Guilt offering
bleeds, and guilt is forgiven. So Jesus dies, and His whole family is saved.
It is a heaven-taught challenge, "Who can lay anything to the charge of
God's elect?" It is a heaven-brought answer, "It is God who justifies." The
Spirit prompts the question, "Who is He, that condemns?" The same voice
sounds the triumph-note, "It is Christ who died." Each Guilt offering shouts
aloud this truth.
This cup of grace is not exhausted yet. The sinner's need
is a vast varied field. No single image can depict its breadth. But Jesus's
work completely covers all. His life is laid down as guilt expiation. But
death alone crowns not salvation's pyramid. More is required. More is
performed by Christ. More is pre-figured here. The value of the trespass
must be reckoned. Scales must be brought. The offender must pay down the
estimated cost according to the sanctuary's weight. Further addition of a
fifth part must be made. Equivalent will not suffice. Excess is superfluous.
Lev. 5:16. This rule sets guilt in a clearer light. Death is
entailed—that is the misery. Debt is incurred—that is the penalty and
We thus are taught, that sin defrauds God. Creation's
law makes us His sole possession. No faculty of mind or frame—no power
of intellect or thought—no talent of influence or time—no opportunity—no
gift—no grace, is property of our own. All then should serve the cause of
the one sovereign Lord. Reason should plan, and eyes should see, and hands
should work, and feet should run, to do Him honor and augment His praise.
Our every energy should fly abroad with morning light, to gather fruits of
glory for His name. Each night should prove, that faith and love have
labored to advance His kingdom upon earth.
But is it so? What is the witness of each hour? Alas!
SELF mounts the great Creator's throne. We rise, we enter on the day, we
journey on, as if self-seeking were legitimate employ. Whether we rest or
toil it is unto ourselves. Is not this trespass? Such is its lightest name.
It robs our God. It wastes His remuneration. Reader, this is a solemn
thought. It fixes on our souls the blackest dye of wrong. It brands us, as
purloining from a Father's and a Benefactor's treasury!
Some perhaps may ask, "can no amends be made? Can no
devotedness repay?" That is a vain conceit. If not one thought of any moment
ever swerved from a pure effort for the Lord, it would but be, that moment's
due. Surplus of merit is the papist's dream. But our best acts are
only increase of our debt. Hence all our works make bankruptcy more deep.
When justice calls to the white throne, the fairest reckoning is one huge
debt. Who then can stay arrest?
Here the true Guilt offering again presents relief. Jesus
is salvation to the full. Hence death for sin is not the whole of his
grand work. This decks us with no merit. It fills no hands with fruits
of righteousness. He must also pay a whole life's homage to the Law.
He gives compliance to its largest rule. It asked for one undeviating course
of love. Jesus was love without one straying step.
Reader, if you are Christ's, this pure fulfillment of the
Law is for you. For you Christ wrought it. To your account He puts it.
Ponder its wondrous worth. Since Christ is God, Deity embodies all His acts.
When He obeys, it is Divine obedience. Unsullied righteousness is sought
from man. The righteousness cast over him is the righteousness of God.
The Guilt-offerer added a surplus. But who can
weigh the surplus, which Christ brings? Jesus piles the scales, until God
can give, and God can take no more.
Such is the Gospel, which pervades this rite. It is
clear, and full, and rich, and precious, and divine. Reader, it comes to you
this day. It deals most lovingly, most closely with you. It tells you in
emphatic terms, that sin and guilt stain your heart, your soul, your mind,
your life, your every day, your every hour. It warns, that every trespass
strengthens Satan's claims, and fans the flames of hell. It strips off every
self-framed hope. It places a vast barrier between you and God.
But next it sweetly shows a full recovery. Christ's
cross and life are pictured in the brightest hues. You see Him
dying to pay the guilt-penalty. You see His righteousness supplying
guilt-wrongs. He tenderly persuades, "only believe, and take My overflowing
cup of merit. Come, cling by faith to Me, and all your trespasses are buried
in My wounds—and all your guilt is covered by My robe—Come, and by faith be
one with Me—here is full pardon—no charge against you can be found—here is
full beauty—no speck of filth remains. Here is My cross—your all-sufficient
expiation. Here is My surplus payment—as your wealth."
Reader, what answer do you give? Can you reject the only