September 20, 2004

Getting Clean
"On this day atonement will be made for you, to 
cleanse you. Then, before the LORD , you will be clean 
from all your sins" (Vayikra / Leviticus 16:30)

This Friday evening begins the most solemn day of the 
Jewish year. All over the world on Yom Kippur (The Day 
of Atonement) Jewish people gather to spend hours in 
reflection and prayer in hope that God would cleanse 
us from our sins committed over the past year.

In the days of the Jewish temple, as long as the 
correct procedures were followed, cleansing from sin 
was assured. But Judaism, after the destruction of the 
Temple, which occurred about forty years after Yeshua 
the Messiah came, redefined itself and claimed that 
the synagogue rituals were a sufficient substitution 
for the sacrificial rites given by Moses.

This contradicts both the Hebrew Bible and the New 
Covenant Writings regarding the necessity of sacrifice 
for the cleansing of sin. As foretold by the Hebrew 
Bible, the death and resurrection of Yeshua is the 
basis upon which this cleansing is granted.

But why do we need cleansing? Why is forgiveness 
necessary? According to most people today there is no 
such thing as true guilt. Guilt is something imposed 
upon the human mind by people who have created 
arbitrary codes of conduct. What is right or wrong for 
one person is not necessarily right or wrong for 
someone else. This implies then that freedom is a 
state of mind. If we could only think of ourselves 
correctly, then we could live life to the fullest.

This way of thinking exists even among some who claim 
to believe the Bible. Yeshua is often viewed as the 
one who came to free us - not from the guilt that 
comes from sin - but from the burden of rules and 
codes of conduct.

While we need to be careful not to put upon ourselves 
obligations over and above that which God has given, 
let us not be fooled into thinking that true human 
freedom can be found in being released from any sense 
of moral or spiritual obligation. Any attempt to live 
without God-given guidelines will inevitably result in 
confusion and disaster.

It is our failure to conform to God's standards that 
got the human family into trouble in the first place. 
One of the reasons for the giving of the Scriptures 
was to make us aware of this. Once aware of our 
failure we have the opportunity to participate in 
God's ultimate solution through Yeshua.

Receiving God's cleansing in no way dismisses our need 
to live according to God's rules. Far from it, it is 
his cleansing that enables us to live godly lives. As 
we do so, we will continue to fail, since we are not 
yet made perfect. The good news is that what Yeshua 
did for us continues to cleanse us as we look to him 
for that cleansing.