Do you really believe in the redeeming power of Christ’s blood, the cross and His grace? Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ can change your heart and save you, or are you trying to be your own savior and manage your own sins? In the Old Testament sin was dealt with through sacrifices and the use of a scapegoat to bear the sins of the people.
Each year, on a day called “The Day of Atonement”, two goats would be chosen along with a bull in an elaborate ceremony to atone for the sins of the people of Israel. The bull was sacrificed for the High Priest’s sins; apparently a whole bull was needed for the sins of the High Priest (note that an entire nation only needed a simple goat). One goat was given to the Lord to be sacrificed and the blood of this goat was mixed with the bull’s over the altar and the mercy seat.
The second goat was called the scapegoat, which was designated for Azazel. The High Priest would take the mixed blood of the sacrificed bull and goat from the altar, wipe it on the scapegoat, confess all the iniquities, transgressions and sins of the people of Israel. The scapegoat was then driven into the wilderness, bearing the sins of the people.
You can click here to read about this in Leviticus 16:8-22 or just read on.
What does this mean to us as Christians? The Old Testament scapegoat parallels Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us, and the shedding His blood to atone for our sins.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
We often live trying to manage our own sin and use scapegoats to bear our sin, rather than deal with the sin by confessing it to Jesus Christ and letting Him bear our sin. How do we do this? Whenever we put the blame of our sinful hearts on an object when the true problem is not the object, but our hearts.
For example, say we make a law to forbid Facebook because we fear that it will lead to adultery and sinful encounters. Now is the problem Facebook or is the problem our hearts? Clearly the problem lays with our hearts, yet the blame of sin is put on Facebook. Removing Facebook does not remove the sin in our hearts, and while we may think there is change, there is no real change within and no redemption.
Stop for a moment to think of all they ways we try to manage our own sin and put the blame on a scapegoat to atone for our sins. Essentially what we are doing is taking away from the power of the cross, instead of trusting in the love of Jesus, His grace and having faith that He can change our hearts.
14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—no
Doing this we are attempting to be our own saviors, manage our own sin with laws and from this Paul says no man is justified.
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Here is another example: if we have a problem with lust, then make those around us dress covered up from head to toe, this will not stop our lustful hearts. All we have done by creating a law is to put blame on an object and we have done nothing to change our hearts before God. Instead of blaming a scapegoat for our sins, and covering up the problem, we need to deal with the sin by taking it to the cross and allowing Jesus Christ to bear our sins, shame and redeem us. This is why Jesus died for us, this is what He wants to do for us because He LOVES US.
The Bible is clear that we have to change our minds and be renewed from our worldly ways of thinking. We often think the following scripture in Romans is about the physical or about objects, but look closely; it’s about separating our hearts and minds from worldly ways of thinking.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The world’s ideology is about “me”, “self” and what I can do. God’s plan is about Him and what He can do. We create scapegoats and try to manage our own sin because we think it’s about us. God wants us to let go so He can be God. He desires a relationship with us, and wants us to be less, so He can be more. What scapegoats do we have in our lives, what do we need to turn over to Jesus and so He change our hearts?