Christ made the atonement for us. He is perfect and without sin; He did not have to make atonement for Himself. Hebrews tells us that in the old covenant, the high priest needed to firstly offer a sin offering for himself, for his own sins; then he could also make a sin offering for the people. The high priests had to offer up these sacrifices every year, again and again, because they had sin. When our Lord Jesus Christ came on this earth, He was God Himself who became a Man. Sin was not in Him; He was perfect. He is the only One truly qualified to be the unique sin offering so that He only had to present Himself as an offering once for all (Heb 7:27; 10:10). He was fully reconciled to the Father. That is why Jesus Christ could say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
If we want to enjoy and keep the Day of Atonement, we have to see this wonderful Christ who made atonement for us. In the Old Testament, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest could enter into the Most Holy Place only once a year and only with the blood of the sin offering. The Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place is where the Lord is and where the ark of the covenant is. Can you imagine entering into the Holy of Holies only once a year? That sounds very sad. How often do you enter into the Holy of Holies?
Why is this Day of Atonement so wonderful? Because someone could finally enter into the Holy of Holies and make atonement for the sin of the whole congregation once for all, and the atonement was not only for the congregation but for the whole temple because we still have defilement. This is why our fellowship with the Father is so limited. John says that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John
1:3). This fellowship is not just once a week or once in a while. John was in constant fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. You have to appreciate the Day of Atonement because what is hindering us from entering into the full fellowship with the Father and with the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Place, is SIN. Today we do not have much consciousness of our sin. Everyone sins. Have you stopped sinning already? No. Although we desire to go near into the Holy of Holies, sin is hindering us. That is why we need to continually experience and enjoy this wonderful Day of Atonement, to be fully reconciled to God. We will not appreciate and see the preciousness of the Day of Atonement fully, if we have no consciousness of what is hindering us from entering into the Holy of Holies. We cannot enter it if our conscience is not clear. Concerning entering the Holy of Holies, Hebrews 10:22 says that we must have our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. We have to enter in by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is not just for the cleansing for the forgiveness of sins, but also to make us qualified to enter into the Holy of Holies to have fellowship with the Father. The Day of Atonement, in the 7th month of the Jewish calendar, is for our preparation for the Lord’s coming. With this realization, we need to pray: “Lord, sanctify me completely.”
You and I do not hate sin and fight against sin “to bloodshed” as the apostles said (Heb. 12:4). This means that we have no consciousness that sin is so terrible and is dwelling in us. In Romans 7:24, Paul said “O wretched man that I am!” because he realized sin is in him. If you think the coronavirus is so terrible, it is not terrible enough. Sin is a thousand times worse than the virus! The worst thing about it is that it stands between you and God. It prevents you to be fully one with God. No wonder we still cannot see God, because without holiness, no one can see God (Heb. 12:14). When you are trying to fellowship with the Father, do you sometimes have the feeling, “Where is He? Why am I still so far away from God?” Sometimes I say, “God, where are You? Why are there so many things and walls between me and You?” What is the problem? The problem is this terrible sin in our body. So, it is no wonder that Paul says, “while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6). Today, we need to have this realization so that we can hate sin, say “no” to sin, and take Christ as our sin offering. Although we know what the sin offering is, still we do not hate sin; we still give so many excuses to sin. We do not say ‘no’ to sin and even sometimes enjoy it
The Day of Atonement is a very serious matter. In the Old Testament days, the high priest and only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies only once a year. Hebrews tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ, after one sacrifice for sin with His own blood, entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies, the heavenly tabernacle, and He will remain there forever (Heb. 9:11-12). He is there to bring us in. He tore the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies; but we cannot just rush in. Although the veil is torn, we still need to have our hearts sprinkled, not just washed from our sins. Even if your sins are forgiven, you still cannot forget them; they are still a hindrance. The wonderful preciousness of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is to cleanse us from an evil conscience, to set us fully free so that our fellowship with the Father in the Holy of Holies will be so sweet and without any separation. Read Leviticus Chapter 16 again, and you will appreciate the Day of Atonement and what the Lord did to bring us fully into the Most Holy Place, to have this wonderful fellowship with the Father.
Do you appreciate such a fellowship? Paul did. He said, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:12). We are not fully reconciled to God because we still love the world and love ourselves; we are still bound by many things in our lives. Are our lips without deceit? Who among us can say we have no fault? What about our mind, emotion and will? What do we love? Is the Lord our first love? We need to appreciate the Day of Atonement. May every day be for us a Day of Atonement that we can be fully set free.
Romans 8 is very wonderful. Verse 1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” But within our hearts, there is still condemnation because we still live in a sinful atmosphere. To be set free is wonderful. I want to be set free. Romans 8 not only tells us that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death (v. 2), but also that we by the Spirit must put to death the deeds of the body (v. 13). This is the atonement through Christ.
It is no wonder that Paul was set free; he said, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Romans 6:7 says only he who is dead is freed from sin. I am still very much alive, this flesh of mine is still very much alive, and that is why I have problems. I appreciate Christ dying for me, but I do not appreciate me dying with him. May the Lord give us the inward consciousness of this wonderful atonement work. This is why the ark of the
covenant with the propitiation cover is the throne of grace. When we go to the throne of grace, we should really appreciate the atonement and the propitiation and be fully clear: the Lord paid the price for me. He took the entire judgment that should be on me upon Himself. That does not mean I can just say, “Hallelujah! I’m free from judgment!” No, I have to learn to apply that judgment on me and my flesh and my thoughts. I have to
judge my thoughts: “No, this does not belong to me. This has been judged on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I really hope we would appreciate the Day of Atonement to be fully reconciled to God, to be one with God and to be completely sanctified in our spirit, soul, and body. This is why at this very time that we are fellowshipping today, the Lord put in our hearts the burden concerning the holiness. I believe all of us are now more conscious of being holy. I am more and more conscious of what is not holy, what is common, what is unclean and am strengthened to pray, “Lord, save me to the uttermost.” Hebrews 7:25 says that He is able to save us to the uttermost. That means immediately after your initial salvation, do not think that you are done once and for all. We are not yet completely saved. There are many things in our hearts that need salvation, including our spirit. Otherwise, Paul would not write in 2 Corinthians 7:1 that we should cleanse ourselves from “the defilement of the flesh and the spirit.” I am one being – if I commit a sin, it will defile not just my body, but also my mind, my soul. If my body and soul are defiled, will not my spirit also be defiled? Yes, that is why when your conscience bothers you, and you do not deal with it, you have no courage to come to the presence of God in the Holy of Holies.
The matter of holiness has so much to do with the Day of Atonement because we want to be saved to the uttermost; we want to be sanctified completely and be able to stand before God and be holy and without blemish (Eph. 1:4). Those words are not written for nothing! The preparation is so that we will become blameless at His return (2 Pet. 3:14, 2 Thess. 5:23). We stress the matter of the spirit, being one spirit with the Lord, and we do not care about our bodies. Do not think that our bodies are not important. The body is very important! At the judgment seat of Christ, are you going to give an account of what your thoughts were or what you did with your soul? No, you must give an account for what you did with your body (2 Cor. 5:10). You may say, “But…I’m in the spirit.” Well, you may be “one spirit with the Lord,” but when you give an account at the judgment seat of Christ, the account is for what you did with your body – how you lived on this earth with your physical body.
2 Corinthians 5 not only mentions the judgment seat of Christ, but that very chapter a few verses later also mentions being reconciled to God, and that we should become the righteousness of God. You cannot say, “Well, I’m very righteous in my spirit, but I’m not righteous in my body.” What kind of righteousness is that? I am ONE being. Our whole being must be reconciled to God.
I hope this fellowship will cause us all to wake up to appreciate and keep the Day of Atonement, to deal with the sin that is within us, and to experience the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that sets us free from the law of sin and death. Our bodies must be made alive, because we have a body of death. In Romans 7 Paul says, “Who will deliver me from this body?” (Rom. 7:24). Praise the Lord, through Christ Jesus (Rom. 7:25). And how will He do this? Through the Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead, He will give life to our mortal bodies (Rom 8:11). If this life is penetrating the mortal body, then we can by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13). Then we can present this body (not as a defiled and dead body) as a living sacrifice – holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service (Rom 12:1). May all of the feasts become our experience in our daily life more and more. Let us experience the Day of Atonement. Praise the Lord!