Have you ever wondered why, while Romans tells us emphatically that once we have received God’s free gift of salvation our old man is dead, you still struggle with sin? Perhaps, like me, you observe that your old man seems to be very much alive no matter how persistently you declare him dead by faith. This article is based on a insightful teaching by Preston Eby, that brings some badly needed clarity on being loosed from sin. Undoubtedly, a correct understanding of the Day of Atonement is very important for every believer. There is a beautiful “type” contained in the Day of Atonement, one Feast of the Lord Israel was commanded to observe that can remove some of our confusion.
In Leviticus 16:7-21 we see that on the Day of Atonement two goats were presented to the High Priest for the sins of the Children of Israel. Notice that unlike some of the other feasts, it was a goat and not a lamb that was required. The reason lies in the difference between the nature of the two animals. Lambs have a reputation as having a sweet, docile nature. Goats, on the other hand are a very different story. Goats have earned their reputation as being obstinate, contrary animals exhibiting a strong will. They kick, butt and make loud noises in protest always ready to fight man or beast. They attack one another or anyone attempting to handle them without much provocation. I expect no further explanation is needed as to why God demanded goats for this sacrifice instead of lambs, and this will become clearer as we proceed fourth Hokage.
During the Feast of the Day of Atonement, lots were cast designating one goat as a “Sacrifice to the Lord” to atone for the sins of Israel. The second goat was designated as a “Scapegoat.” We get our term Scapegoat directly from this Jewish ritual. According to Noah Webster’s Dictionary 1828, this word means “escape”.
The sacrificial goat was then slain to atone (make satisfaction for) for Israel’s sins that year, but the scapegoat had a different fate. After the sacrificial goat was slain, it was still necessary for The High Priest to lay his hands upon the head of the scapegoat as he confessed the sins of God’s people, and declared cleansing (by the sacrifice of the first goat) and removal through (the second goat) of all their sins. It was through this ritual that the sins of God’s people were symbolically transferred to the scapegoat for removal.
Then the scapegoat was placed in the hands of a “fit, timely man,” according to Leviticus 16:21, (Exegeses Literal Translation)—one who was strong and physically fit for the task of taking the goat away into the wilderness where it was to be let go. All Israel would gather and cheer as their sins were being removed to the wilderness. Notice, not only were there sins forgiven, but by the transference and the removal by the “fit man,” were also taken away. Permanently and irrevocably were their sins removed.
Our flesh, the old Adam, cannot be reformed. This is why scripture has only one solution for it, death (the first goat). I would like to quote from Preston Eby’s article here, “Have not we all tried to make ‘Adam’ behave to please God. We have put our flesh under laws, rules and regulations, and tried to make it be good. It hasn’t worked.”
Once we are born again, we have a sinless spirit through regeneration and this is now our true nature. Accordingly, God’s Word assures us in Romans 8, “There is, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” All condemnation originates and comes through the flesh that is in rebellion against God. Just as true, is the fact that our flesh still wants to sin and always will. Flesh is born of the fallen nature, the wrong seed, and cannot be made holy no matter how hard we try and sin still dwells in our members (Romans 7:23). Our true self is no longer of that seed as we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, the renewed man (the new Adam) and is born of the Spirit of God–the one who can enter into the holiest of holies.
Now can we see from scripture that the first goat represents our old unregenerate man who is truly dead. Therefore, our battle is not now with the old man–he is dealt with and gone–dead men do nothing. Consequently, the scapegoat represents our human mind and flesh with sin indwelling our members and here is the battleground.
By looking at the types in the Day of atonement, we should also see that Jesus, is not the scapegoat, as many have taught, but He is actually the “fit man” mentioned in Leviticus as the one who takes away (removes) the scapegoat of our flesh. Jesus as represented by the fit man accomplishes what we are unable to achieve no matter how much we may try. It is Jesus who being fit, lifts and carries away our carnality, fleshly appetites and lust; the work of sin that still dwells in our members and brings about transformation.
We are a performance oriented society. However, we must come to understand that performance will never be sufficient to lead us into God’s Presence. It is by the sacrifice of the first goat that a way into the holiest has been made. Our sins do not exclude us from God’s loving presence. God is our Father and He bids us to come before His throne to obtain grace in the time of need.
Since we are a new creation, why do we not have more victory over sin in our lives? The answer is to be found in this two goat type. Being born again and having the old man done away with is just the beginning of our journey with God. Now we must begin to appropriate the second provision of the Day of Atonement, the second goat–the scapegoat. The second work of Jesus, the “fit man” is to send sin away; to expel sin from our hearts. The second goat is God dealing with our goat nature.
Who can deny as the Apostle Paul so clearly states in Romans, that their is great warfare within us between the flesh and the spirit, and here is the key to victory. Most of God’s people have obtained plenty of head knowledge through teaching and reading God’s Word. What has been lacking, in many instances, is the experiencing of God’s presence–the intimacy that comes through relationship with the Living Christ, and this alone will result in heart knowledge by way of experiencing Him. It is in the chamber of intimacy that He accomplishes the removal of sin and transforms our nature. As a result of climbing the stairs that lead into the secret place, sitting at our Lord’s feet, we begin to mature into His likeness and grow up into his image. Truly, only the presence of and power of Christ in us can make us overcomers of sin.