This New Life

Previously, we read about the priest’s instructions for determining leprosy and the details for the ceremonial cleansing (Leviticus 13 and 14).

It’s in these rituals that we –as God’s ambassadors for Christ– find what to tell new believers. I’m emphatic about all this because most only know bits and pieces of the gospel themselves –and even they wonder about their own security with God.

Acts 18:24-26 gives an example of this exact situation. Apollos had accurately been teaching what he knew about Jesus; but he was presenting an incomplete gospel.

The Priest’s Task

The priest told the ex-leper to return to the camp –and on the seventh day, to wash his clothes, shave and bathe as he had done before. But he could not re-enter his tent until the next day, the eighth day.

That day the priest had him bring offerings to the entrance of the tabernacle. There were three lambs, oil mixed with flour, and a container of oil. (If the person was poor, two birds could be substituted for the female and one of the male lambs.)

The priest killed a male lamb at the altar as the guilt offering. He put some of its blood in the palm of his hand –mixed with oil. He put some on the person’s right ear lobe, right thumb and right big toe.

Then the priest sprinkled some of the oil in his palm seven times toward the Lord (the Holy of Holies), put some on the person’s right ear lobe, right thumb, right big toe, and the remainder on his head.

Lastly, the priest sacrificed the sin offering (the female sheep) and the burnt offering (the other male sheep) at the altar. The ex-leper then went about his life in the camp like before the disease; but after the healing he was a living testament for being separated from God, His compassion, and their union.

As Christ’s Ambassadors. . .

Every new-believer needs to know what transpired in his salvation experience –so that he will be secure in his relationship with God. We ambassadors of Christ –like the Levitical priests– are to explain it to him.

Seven days: We tell the believer that just as God completed His work of bringing life into this empty, dark world –He also completed putting eternal life into him, a formerly lost, dead person.

The washing: We tell him that the first washing showed that he was clean from God’s viewpoint. This second washing –no it’s not with water– explains that God also made him clean among people. Regardless of his feelings, he has been absolutely, totally, perfectly, cleansed from all unrighteousness. There’s not a spot or blemish on him.

The guilt offering: We tell the believer that he offered Jesus –the Son of God (the perfect male lamb) to die in his place. That offering was for the offense that finally convicted him. It was Jesus’ blood –His death– that provided total forgiveness for all his ways (blood on his ear), his deeds (on his thumb) and his walk (on his big toe).

We tell him that the Holy Spirit responds to God’s desires (the oil was sprinkled seven times toward the Lord). The Holy Spirit will guide the believer’s ways (the oil on his ear), his deeds (on his thumb) and his walk (on his big toe). He has a new purpose in life –he too is as an ambassador for Christ (the anointing oil on his head).

We tell him that it’s God who keeps us clean and gives His blessings. (The priest burned the kidneys and the fat –its smoke went up to heaven.) We tell him that his offering was acceptable. (The priest ate the meat; he sold the skin and he used the oil without being defiled.)

The sin offering: We tell the believer that he offered Jesus –the Son of Man (the female lamb or little bird)– to die in his place for every other wrong. Confessed or not, the penalty has been paid in full. We tell him that we all live a life in this world with struggles that seem to drag us down the wrong path but Jesus was sufficient for it all. (The priest shared in this offering too.)

The grain offering: We tell him that Jesus’ life –and death– were satisfactory to God. (The flour came from grain that was crushed, mixed with oil and baked to become unleavened bread. Some was burned with its smoke going up to heaven as a pleasant aroma. The remainder was eaten by the priest.)

The burnt offering: This one last of the sequence is extra-special. We tell the believer that God in the flesh died for all of us. Although we can’t see Him we can trust Him to be our necessary and sufficient sacrifice. (The last male lamb, or little bird was burned entirely. God took Him all –no matter how much or little could be afforded by the former leper.)

The altar: We tell him that every one of these were offered at the altar –Jesus’ cross. We have nothing to give but thanks for Him.

Now What?

Believers continue to ask that question. “I trusted Jesus. Now what?” The answer is quite simple –but takes time to grasp the consequences. Here’s a physical example.

When a person says “I’ve been hired into a new job at a wonderful company here in town.” What’s the change? What does that person do? If he has a spouse, he continues as a spouse. It’s the same for being a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, a friend. . . His relationships with people remain, but his employer changed.

In the case of a person becoming a believer, the change that takes place is not in what he does. Instead it’s who he is. He’s been adopted into a new family and his citizenship has been transferred into a different kingdom. His new life is still among the people he has known. But his task is being God’s representative to them –and many more.

Does that mean he beats them down with messages filled with guilt that he has heard from Sunday sermons? No, it means when people come to him with their problems –and it’s the Holy Spirit who will do the bringing– he can tell them about their separation from God and the One who saves. Later when a person returns to him after hearing about Jesus, he tells them about the fullness of their salvation. . .