Side Door – Nothing Less/Nothing More

Well, because today’s taste of Torah is Leviticus 4:3-4, we have to go through the Side Door.  And in these two verses, Leviticus 4:3-4, we learn that punishing the innocent means forgiveness for the guilty.

First this is seen when we consider the concept of substitution. Verse 3 reads, If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.

At the beginning of the process to bridge the relational gap between God and man caused by sin there was the designation of a substitute.  And in the case of this particular sin offering, a young bull without any physical imperfections. The substitute takes the place of the sinner. The substitute bears the sinner’s guilt.  All of the judgment that the violator of God’s standards has incurred upon himself, or herself, is transferred to the substitute.

Secondly, punishing the innocent in order to forgive the guilty is seen when we consider the concept of identification. Verse 4 says that the anointed priest is to lay is hand on the head of the bull. When the priest laid his hands upon the animal the animal not only took the place of the priest in terms of accountability before God but the animal also became his sin. The substitute became the embodiment of sin’s repugnant offensiveness to God. This meant transmission, delegation, and representation. It meant punishing the innocent secured forgiveness for the guilty.

Thirdly – this truth is seen when we consider the inescapable reality of death. The end of verse 4 says, “…slaughter it before the Lord.” Here we see that the sacrifice of the substitute sin- bearer served as a graphic object lesson that the penalty of sin is death. In the Hebrew Scriptures it’s clearly and repeatedly stated that, “The soul that sins will die (cf. Ezek. 18:4)!”

However, there’s a positive aspect to the death required as payment for sin. This action can further be interpreted as the animal giving its life to the offerer so that the offerer can continue living!  In other words there’s an exchange of life taking place. The animal took the life of the offerer by identification, and because the offerer’s life was sinful, the animal died.  But on the other hand the animal gave its life to the offerer so that the offerer could continue living!

Punishing the innocent means forgiveness for the guilty. This is seen when we consider the concept of substitution. It’s seen when consider the concept of identification. It’s seen when we consider the inescapable reality of death as payment for sin.  And it’s seen when we consider the exchange of life signifying the completion of forgiveness.  So here’s an easy way to remember this; just think of the acronym side, S-I-D-E: Substitution, Identification, Death of the Substitute, Exchange of Life.

So – on our side of Messiah’s Roman execution stake – what does this side door look like? It looks like this:

Substitution – Messiah died the death each person should die. Messiah as a perfect representative of mankind endured the judgment that everyone should endure. He died in behalf of us. He died in our place.

Identification – God charged the sins of the whole human race of all times to Messiah.  Messiah never committed sin personally, and yet in the mind and plan of God the sins of everyone were charged to Him.

Death of the Substitute – Messiah’s human spirit was separated from His body. His divine person was separated from the person of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. And while the extent of this separation was eternal in degree, it was not eternal in time because He was resurrected.  And by raising Messiah from the dead, God the Father gave testimony to the fact that He had accepted the work of God the Son on behalf of sinners. The resurrection was God the Father’s divine stamp of approval.

Exchange of Life – Messiah’s death took away the penalty of sin which is eternal spiritual separation from union and fellowship with God coupled with conscious physical and emotional suffering in a location and state so terrible we have no mental construct to fully put that in. It also means that His death paid the price of redemption and satisfied the offended holiness of God. Through the death of Messiah, man is thoroughly changed in his relation to God and made potentially savable.

How do we open this side door?  We open it by faith. This involves believing that Messiah died in our place instead of us to meet our need and God accepted this.  It’s trusting Messiah to deliver from the spiritual death penalty of sin.  It’s being so convinced that these gospel facts are true that you’re actually willing to stake your eternal destiny on them.  It starts with assent to knowledge, followed by being convinced, resulting in active continual trust.

So, on the other side of this side door that can only be opened by faith;  is permanent never ending forgiveness of sin.  And, on the other side of this side door that can only be opened by faith; is the only entrance to the small gate and narrow road leading to permanent never ending possession of spiritual life (cf. Matt. 7:14).  And this is why, in the truly biggest and most important sense of things, when you go through that side door; you need nothing less and nothing more!


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