“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” Romans 8:3.
As believers, God has provided us with a guide to help us stay on His path, and that is the Holy Spirit. Understanding how to access our guide for help requires that we understand the magnitude of Jesus sacrifice.
Prior to Jesus death, God’s Spirit dwelled in the Temple in Jerusalem in a part known as the “Holy of Holies”. In this way, He could be among the people and help them, but having God around us took a lot of work for us to be able to access Him.
For example, the “Holy of Holies” was separated from the rest of the Temple by a veil or a heavy curtain, and not just anyone could enter because as a holy and perfect God, God could not be around sin. Man’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden separated us from God and placed a barrier in between. For this reason, only the high priest was able to enter into the “Holy of Holies” and never without animal blood as a sacrifice for sin. Simply put, he had to be cleansed. “When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” Hebrews 9:6-7.
It is important to remember that God’s presence is so powerful that if the proper precautions were not taken by the High Priest, or if anyone else should enter they would die. His presence is so great that to even look upon Him would cause death, not as punishment, but as if we put our hands into fire. Holiness and sin do not mix. “He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die.” Leviticus 16:13.
Even with His presence in the Temple, man continued falling into sin. God had given Moses all the rules that people should follow, but those rules, or the law, were not enough for people to stay on the right path. One reason is the rules were often not followed due to our desire to go against them and break them.
Another reason is the fact that more is required than just following those rules, and even when people followed them they forgot why they were doing so. God always wanted us to follow His commandments, but that was just the “what” we do. He also wanted us to look at the “why” we are doing it. “…acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.” 1 Chronicles 28:9. Each person should examine their motives even if the “what” they are doing is a good thing, such as quoting scripture, giving offerings, or attending church. If the “why” the person is doing such a good thing is to impress others, then the meaning behind the action is lost. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1.
A key illustration of this is seen in the Old Testament where people were giving offerings in the Temple, like we do in church today, and quoting scripture and commandments, but they had forgotten about the fact they were supposed to be doing it for God. “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6. Instead, they were obeying commandments to gain others approval by impressing them with their vast knowledge and contributions, and breaking the commandment that told them to put God first. They appeared obedient, but God knew their heart was absent.
God’s displeasure was evident. Man was still falling into sin, regardless of the rules in place, and God knew we needed access to Him directly. In order to provide us with a way to stay on His path, He would have to remove the sin barrier that separated us from Him.
And that is exactly what He did.
**Part IV of the “Now What? Series” will discuss how removing the barrier between us and God provided you with the Holy Spirit to help you stay on course.