I have been reading J.V. Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle (EP Books, 2012) courtesy of Shaun Tabatt. In addressing the Altar and the Courtyard, Fesko puts forward something we all need to think about, especially folks from more conservative fundamentalist type church backgrounds (pgs 64-65):
One of the questions that we should ask is: Do we fully realize the significance of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ?
So often we give lip service to the idea of the sacrifice of Christ, but our conduct reveals our lack of understanding in our hearts. Many claim to take refuge in the sacrifice of Christ, but they live in rebellion to the authority of Christ – they claim to love Christ but their lives demonstrate they are indifferent to the costly sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
There are still yet others who claim the name of Christ and look to him for the forgiveness of sins, yet they live as though we still worshipped at the Old Testament tabernacle. In other words, they believe that their sin is too great for God to forgive, and so, like the Old Testament Israelites, they repeatedly come to God doubting his mercy and seek forgiveness of a sin, offering their prayers and repeatedly pleading with God for forgiveness for the same one sin over and over again.
Oddly enough, both types of sin are manifestations of pride – the former thinks too much of himself, which is arrogance, because he does not believe he needs forgiveness of sins. The latter thinks too much of his sin and too little of the sacrifice of Christ, because Christ could never forgive him, or so he thinks. We should occupy neither of these positions of arrogance and pride.
We should recall the costly sacrifice of Christ and rejoice that we can envision the horns of the altar smeared with blood, cling to them in Christ, and know that our sins accuse us no more. If Christ gave his live so that we might live, then we must not live as though Christ never came, as though he never offered himself up on our behalf. We must, as Paul says, walk in the newness of life, four our sinful nature has been crucified with Christ: ‘Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).
At the same time, when we fall into sin, we even grievous sin, we are not beyond forgiveness. Do not think that we can somehow atone for our sins if we ask God to forgive us many times. We should rest assured and rejoice that when we ask for God’s forgiveness we have it because of the sacrifice of Christ. As the psalmist says, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us’ (Ps 103:12). Rejoice, knowing that your heavenly Father forgives you on account of the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
I like that. Far to often we give back the offer of forgiveness, because we like to wallow in our own condemnation.