Sin Against A Fellow Believer

Leviticus 6:1-4 — “And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbor in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbor; or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these that a man does, sinning therein: then it shall be, because he has sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he has deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found.”

While all sin is ultimately against God, the greater thrust of the trespass offering, I think, pertains to one believer sinning against another believer in some way. Of course, under the old economy, it would have been one Israelite sinning against another Israelite. As should be obvious, this is a grievous sin as it regards the Lord, and it is not overlooked, even though it is between believers. In fact, I think it is obvious in these passages that God looks upon such a sin as worse than other sins. To sin against unbelievers is terrible to say the least, but to sin against a fellow believer is beyond abominable. Tragically, it happens, sad to say, everyday!

Believers must be very, very careful as to our conduct toward anyone, irrespective of whom that person might be. However, if we’re dealing with other Christians, regardless of what they might do, we must ever understand that if they are true believers, Jesus died for them, and, in fact, they belong to Christ. Knowing and understanding that, our treatment of them and our attitude and conduct toward them must be according to whom they belong, namely the Lord!

In such a case, even though the believer in question may not own up to his perfidiousness, still, the Lord always and without exception, knows the truth of any and every matter. To the one who is in the wrong, irrespective of his claims, the Scripture concerning this plainly says, “Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).

To be sure, nothing escapes the eye of God, and concerning everything, all must be accounted for, and all must give account!

No one, but no one, gets by with wrongdoing. Jesus plainly said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Mat. 7:1–2).

So, whatever we maliciously say about others, ultimately and eventually, it will be said about us. Whatever we do to others, and I speak of that which is wrong, ultimately and eventually, it will be done to us.

Such judgment can be escaped if the one who has done the wrong will properly confess the wrong and seek forgiveness, both from the offended party and especially from God. Regrettably, most are loath to admit their wrongdoing, even when it is so very obvious!

“Or all that about which he has sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertains, in the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for anything of all that he has done in trespassing therein” (Lev. 6:5-7).

The Holy Spirit saw fit to address the fifth part the second time, with the first time being in Leviticus 5:16. As always, this is done with purpose. The Holy Spirit wants us to know the importance of what is being said. As well, He wants us to garner the truth that is being given, which, as it is with all Scripture, is of vital significance.

The great truth presented here is in conjunction with the sacrificial offering itself. This, of course, speaks of what Christ did on the Cross. We have the restitution demanded for wrongdoing, at least when the property of fellow believers has been harmed in some way, and, as well, we have the fifth part that is to be added.

As it concerns you, the reader, if you will believe the Lord and place your faith and trust totally in Christ — in His finished work on the Cross — then every single thing that Satan has stolen from you, and everything you’ve lost to the Evil One, will be restored, plus 20 percent more will be added. To be sure, those numbers I’ve given are not mine, but they belong to the Holy Spirit. As well, the Lord will definitely do that which He has promised. So, as a believer, you ought to understand this, believe this, and expect this!

As is seen in Exodus 22:1–9, when a person was guilty of any of the offenses specified there, the offender was condemned to make a fourfold restitution. The passage before us proclaims this amount as being reduced to the restitution of the principle with the addition of the fifth part. The reason for this difference is that the law in Exodus deals with a culprit who is convicted of his crime in a court of justice by means of witnesses. However, the law before us deals with an offender who, through compunction of mind, voluntarily confesses his offense, and to whom the offense could not be recognized and known without this voluntary confession. It is in this difference that a case for a trespass offering is made.

“And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: it is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it” (Lev. 6:8-9).

Beginning with Leviticus 6:8 through Leviticus, Chapter 7, we have the law of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the peace offering. We also have the law of the high priest’s consecration offering.

The order in which the offerings are placed does not correspond here with that found in the opening chapters of the book. There, the sin offering comes last; here, the peace offering. This shows design. Only an absolutely perfect victim — the Lord Jesus Christ — could put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; hence, the sin offering is placed last. However, only a fully accomplished atonement can give peace to the conscience, so, therefore, in the laws affecting the sacrifices, the peace offering is put last.

The burnt offering was to burn all night. In the morning, dressed in his clean linen garments, the priest was to gather its ashes and place them beside the altar, and then, in his garments of beauty, bring them with befitting glory unto a clean place. This represents the coming kingdom age, which, of course, speaks of a cleansed earth.

Through this night of mystery, the fragrance of Christ’s offering up of Himself to God ascends continually. In the morning, He will appear to His people Israel in His double glory as the white-robed priest and the glory-crowned mediator.

The fire that consumed the burnt offering originally came from heaven (Lev. 9:24), and was maintained perpetually burning by the unwearied ministry of the priests.

It was lacking in the second temple. It testified on the one hand to the unceasing delight of God in the sacrifice of Christ, and on the other hand, to His unceasing hatred of sin. False teachers today put this fire out by denying the doctrines of the atonement and of the wrath to come.

Verse 9 could read: “It, the burnt offering (the evening sacrifice), shall burn upon the hearth upon the altar all night unto the morning.”

Verse 8 records the fourth instance in which the formula, “the LORD spoke unto Moses,” is used in Leviticus (Lev. 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8), and as in the former passages, it introduces a further communication from the Lord to Moses.

Previously, the law pointed out to the people under what circumstances and how they were to bring their sacred oblations. Now directions are given to the priests of how to conduct the sacrificial service of the people.

“And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire has consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar” (Lev. 6:10).

Of course, the priest doing the officiating was a type of Christ, even as the whole burnt offering was a type of Christ.

As we have stated, the whole burnt offering typified Christ satisfying the demands of the thrice-holy God. Only a perfect sacrifice could do such, hence, the officiating priests dressed in the linen garment, which typified righteousness.

Christ was perfectly righteous, which means that His birth was perfect, and His life was perfect, which means that it was without sin of any shape, form, or fashion. This means that He satisfied the demands of the law, which typified the righteousness of God, and which God demanded of all men. As our substitute, Christ kept the law perfectly in every respect and did so as a man - the Man Christ Jesus, the second Man, as Paul referred to Him; and the last Adam (I Cor. 15:45–50).

Irrespective as to how many people died on crosses that day throughout the Roman Empire, and even if they had attempted to die as a sacrifice, the giving of themselves could not have been accepted by God simply because, due to original sin, all men were and are spiritually polluted. Christ alone could fit this description of perfect righteousness, and Christ alone did fit this description.

This blows to pieces the grossly erroneous doctrine of the Word of Faith people, which claims that the blood of any born-again man could redeem humanity. The difference in the born-again man and Christ is stupendous to say the least.

We have to be made the righteousness of God, while Christ is the righteousness of God (II Cor. 5:21). The difference there is vast! Imputed righteousness, which is actually what we have, is not the same as the perfection of righteousness, which is Christ.

The whole burnt offering transfers the righteousness of the victim to the sinner, while the sin offering transfers the guilt of the sinner to the innocent victim, namely Christ.

After the fire had burned all night and had totally consumed the sacrifice, the priest was to take the ashes off the altar and deposit them on the ash heap to the east of the altar.

Considering that the sacrifice had been totally consumed, this refers to the fact that the sacrifice of Christ was total and complete. In other words, the ashes represented the fact that the totality of the sin problem—the root of sin—had been dealt with. This refers not only to man’s condition, but what caused man’s condition, which was the revolution of Satan in eternity past.

Preachers argue over whether certain things, such as healing, are in the atonement. To be sure, divine healing is in the atonement, as is every single thing that was lost in this terrible rebellion and revolution against God. Jesus left nothing unaddressed.

It is true that at the present time, we do not have all for which He has paid the price, that awaits the coming resurrection. However, according to the Scripture, we do have enough now to live a victorious, overcoming Christian life in regard to the settled fact that sin shall not have dominion over us (Rom. 6:14).

This article is an excerpt from the book, The Sacrificial System, by Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.

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