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16. The Meaning of “Perfect” in Hebrews

Chapter 16

The Meaning of “Perfect” in Hebrews

Perfection is Central to Hebrews

In this chapter we aim to draw out the essence of Hebrews by focusing on a central theme in it: perfection.

Hebrews is a mysterious book to many Christians because it deals with a topic that is obscure to them: the Old Testament sacrificial system. It is important, however, that we grasp the mess­age of Hebrews, or else the spiritual meaning of the Old Testa­ment will remain opaque and obscure to us. In fact, Hebrews sums up for us the spiritual essence of the Old Testament. It is the key to understanding the Pentateuch in part­icular, and the Old Testament in general.

In the necessarily concise exposition of Hebrews in this chapter, we will consider a key to understanding Hebrews itself. It is found in the word “perfect” or “make perfect”. Another word that is closely related to “perfect” in Hebrews is the word “holy” or “make holy” (often translated “sanctify”) in its various forms. But within the scope of this chapter we can only consider “perfect”.

How central is the idea of “perfect” in the book of Hebrews? The verb (in the original Greek text) occurs 9 times in Hebrews versus 14 times in all the rest of the New Testament. In other words, nearly half the New Testament occurrences of “perfect,” in the verb form, are concentrated in Hebrews. When cognate (related) forms are taken into account, perfection is mentioned 14 times in Hebrews. These statistics make it evident that perfection is central to the book of Hebrews.

What then does “perfect” mean in Hebrews? We must not arb­itrarily impose our own definitions upon a word in Scripture; we need to establish what the word means in Scriptural usage. It is not simply a matter of looking up “perfect” in a standard dictionary such as Oxford English Dictionary and then applying the definition to Hebrews, because that definition might not express the meaning in­tended by its author. What the writer himself means by “perfect” needs to be established by looking at how he himself uses the word. The task is made easier by the fact that “perfect” in its var­ious forms appears many times in Hebrews. If the word had oc­curred only once or twice, we may feel obliged to resort to guess­work, but when it occurs 14 times, the guessing can be elim­inated.

1. The Old Testament Sacrifices Did Not Make Anyone Perfect

Hebrews is concerned with the Old Testament sacrificial system and the priestly system directly involved with it. Therefore, in Hebrews, the word “perfect” is used in the context of the law, the sacrifices, and the priesthood. To narrow our field, let us start with Hebrews 10, and then widen our field from there. In this chapter, “perfect” occurs twice in the first 14 verses. Verse 1 says:

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (NIV)

The sacrificial system made no one perfect, not even those who sincerely tried to draw near to God. The sacrifices that a man offered, even if done regularly and frequently, could not make him perfect. The sacrifices had to do with atonement [47] for sin. But since they could not “make perfect those who draw near to worship,” those who “drew near” were still unable to enter into communion with God. Only through the sacrifice of Christ do we have access to God, and dare to enter into the Holiest Place to draw near to Him.

The Old Testament sacrifices—many though they were, and a complex system though they formed—could not perfect the worship­pers, whereas “by a single offering Jesus has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (v.14). Jesus’ sacrifice perfects the sinner who draws near to God by faith.

2. Perfect: Free From Sin

The meaning of “perfect” emerges when we survey Hebrews 10. Verse 1 says that the Law “can never...make perfect those who draw near.” Note the strong word “never”. The sacrifices, which were central to the Law and the Old Testament way of life, were unable to perfect anyone, no matter how often or faithfully they were offered. Nor were they designed for that purpose; for they were only a “shadow” pointing forward to the “good things” (10.1) that God had in store for those who have faith in Him. In God’s plan of salvation, the Law served an important didactic purpose: It was “our tutor to lead us to Christ” (Gal.3.24).

That was indeed an exceedingly important role. But once the Law had fulfilled that role and achieved its God-given purpose of leading us to Christ, its task was completed. And now that we have come to Christ and are justified by faith in him, having learned from this “tutor” why his death was necessary for our salvation, we remain deeply thankful for the tutor even though his services as “school­master” are required no more (Gal.3.25).

The sacrifices as a “shadow” pointed forward to the real and effectual sacrifice that was to be made for us through Christ. They were therefore promissory in character, so that those who offered them could be “saved in hope” just as we are (Ro.8.24)[48]. The fact that the sacrifices could never perfect anyone, even when contin­ually repeated, should have made its promissory character evident to the spiritually discerning. Perfecting the sinner had never been God’s purpose for those sacrifices; hence they could never bring anyone to perfection.

If sinners could have been perfected by the sacrifices then “would they not have ceased to be offered?” (Heb.10.2a). Obviously, if the sac­rifices could perfect you, you wouldn’t have to offer them again; that is “because the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sin.” (v.2b).

This makes it clear that to be made “perfect” (10.1) means to be “cleansed” (10.2) from sin. For this reason, if we have been cleansed—perfected—we wouldn’t have to offer the sacrifices again. But because they could not cleanse, people had to keep on offering them under the Old Testament.

Verse 3 says, “In these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.” Far from cleansing the people from sin, the sacrifices reminded them of it. The continual consciousness of sin, with its guilt, arises from the inability of the sacrifices to cleanse the sinner.

Verse 4 says, “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” The sacrifices were made repeatedly precisely because it was “impossible” for them to remove sins.

So far we have encountered three parallel concepts: perfect means cleansed, which in turn means the removal of sin. In other words, perfection has to do with the removal of sin. This is further established as we go on.

Sanctified—made holy—means to be cleansed from sin. “Jesus also, that he might sanctify (‘make holy’, NIV) the people through his own blood, suffered outside the city gate” (Heb.13.12). “By this will (of God, v.9) we have been sanctified (‘made holy’, NIV) through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb.10.10). “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb.10.14). Notice here the intrinsic connection be­tween “perfected” and “sanctified” [49], or “made holy”.

When we are sanctified, we can draw near to God and commune with Him. Having been sanctified, every Christian is called a saint (Ro.1.7; 1Cor.1.2, etc.). In the Greek, the words “saint” and “sanctify” (hagios, ἅγιος and hagiazō, ἁγιάζω) share a common root. A saint is simply one who has been sanctified, cleansed from sin—perfected. When sin has been removed, you are no longer oppressively cons­cious of sin or burdened with a sense of guilt.

It should now be clear that in the book of Hebrews perfection means freedom from sin.

3. Jesus Made Perfect Through Suffering

Interestingly, the definition of perfection, given in Hebrews, as freedom from sin (though without referring to being freed or cleansed from sin which is necessary in our case as sinners) applies even to the Lord Jesus himself. How is this possible in view of the fact that Jesus had never sinned? The answer is found in Hebrews chapter 2.

In this chapter we learn that Jesus was made “perfect… through suffering” (v.10). This suffering included the suffering of temptation: “He himself was tempted in that which he has suffered” (v.18). Because he shared our nature of “flesh and blood” (v.14), he was therefore subjected to the same temptations and pressures of sin as we are, yet he triumphed consistently over sin, remaining free from sin. He established his freedom from sin through his cost­ly yet decisive victory over it.

A comparison with Adam can help us understand this point more clearly. Adam began life in the Garden without sin, but when faced with the temptation to disobey God, rather than being willing to endure whatever suffering was required to remain faithful to God and not succumb to the temptation, he yielded to temptation, disobeyed God, and lost his freedom from sin.

If he had obeyed God in the face of temptation, he would have been “made perfect” through his obedience and would have remained free from sin. He was initially “perfect” in the general sense of being free from sin because of not having sinned yet; but he would have been “made perfect” (the true meaning of Biblical perfection) if he had triumphed over sin. Jesus was victor­ious where Adam failed.

Having won that victory, Jesus can set us free from sin. A slave of sin cannot overcome sin because a slave has no authority over his master. But when Jesus sets us free from our bondage to sin, we can consistently triumph over sin as he did. He was tempted in every way, yet he never sinned (Heb.4.15). He endured the fiercest assaults which sin and the powers of darkness were able to launch against him. He battled them and was triumphant.

4. Freedom from Sin

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8.36, NIV). This refers specifically to freedom from sin because just two verses earlier Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin”. To be “free indeed,” you must experience freedom from sin, without which there is no true freedom.

Let us take the case of a drug addict who lives in Canada. He may be free as far as the law is concerned if he hasn’t yet been prosecuted and charged. He enjoys all the rights of a citizen. He may be free from financial obligations. So he is free in every legal sense of the word “free”. But so long as he is not free from sin or from his drug addiction, he is not “free indeed”; he does not enjoy real freedom.

You may be free in terms of your financial situation in that you have an adequate bank account. You might not be a millionaire but at least you’re not going to miss dinner for lack of money or be evicted from your apartment because of unpaid rent. You may be free from any crippling disease; and free, too, in that your rights are protected by the Constitution. But if you are a slave of sin, being controlled by greed or lust or any form of addiction, you are still not truly free.

Only “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Freedom from sin is the only true freedom. Jesus goes on to say, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8.32). The truth in Christ sets us free. When Scripture speaks of freedom, it does not refer to political freedom or financial freedom but to spiritual freedom—freedom from sin—without which, ultimately, no other freedom has any substan­tive meaning.

5. Two Dangers Relating to Freedom from Sin

Here we must tackle two dangerous ideas pertaining to freedom from sin. If we err in either point, there will be grave consequences. The first danger is self-deception: to think that we are free when we are not. This is a very serious problem that we need to address. The second danger is to misuse a freedom that you really do possess. Scripture deals with both.

The First Danger: Thinking You Are Free When You Are Not

(1) The Consciousness of Sin

If a sacrifice truly sets a person free from sin, he “would no longer have consciousness of sin” (Hebrews 10.2). The consciousness of sin remained under the Old Testament system, but not so in Christ, for “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (v.14). His once-for-all sacrifice frees us from the consciousness of sin.

But we need to be careful in our understanding of “consciousness of sin”. Does the term imply that becoming a Christian is a psychological matter, by which you no longer feel a sense of guilt because you now believe that Jesus died for you? Does this mean that the main benefit which Christianity brings is psycho­logical: it removes a feeling of guilt that is bad for our mental health? Or that Christianity removes psycho­logical burdens, guilt complexes and the like, leading to the conclusion that the reason why Jesus died was primarily to heal us on the “inner” or psychological level?

(2) The Danger of Self-Deception

We will not here venture into the subject of psychiatry or psychology. Many people, however, have fallen for a dangerous piece of self-deception. What do I mean by this? Whether you “feel” forgiven is one thing; whether you have truly been freed from sin is another. The point is simple: If you are still under the power of sin yet you don’t feel any guilt, then you are in a state of dangerous self-deception, because you are still enslaved to sin without your realizing it. You have taken spiritual opium or narcotics. Karl Marx’s accus­ation, that religion is the opiate of the people, can under these circumstances be true.

As Marx would put it, religion makes people feel good even if nothing has changed in their actual situation. Religion gives people the hope of going to heaven even while they are living in poverty and are being exploited by landlords and capitalists. They feel good because they take opium (religion) and forget their true sit­uation. As a result the oppress­ors grow stronger while the wretched people remain addicted to the opium of religion. Marx could be right up to a point.

If we are not careful, we too could become spiritual drug pushers who peddle opium to a people languishing in spiritual wretchedness. It is like giving a shot of morphine to a wounded soldier. The inject­ion is given to ease the unbearable pain. But is he really any better? He may feel better, because the morphine has eased his pain. But his actual condition is not one whit better; the injured man will bleed to death if the wound is not speedily treated.

In preaching God’s word, our deepest concern is that we must have nothing to do with any kind of self-delusion or with pushing spiritual opium. Let no one live in self-delusion, for that is bondage of the worst kind. It is the reverse of freedom.

Self-delusion is to imagine that we are free from sin on the basis of some Christian doctrine when in fact we are still enslaved to sin. A doctrine that, for example, declares that you are forgiven simply by accepting God’s forgiveness. That sounds good. “Believe you have been forgiven, and you are forgiven.” But please tell me what to do about the sin that still enslaves me.

Popular teaching tells me that my sins are forgiven even if I am still enslaved to sin and the sinful nature. My sins are forgiven even if, in reality, the debt of sin is piling up, so that every day I come back to God for forgiveness: “Lord, I’m sorry I failed You yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.” Is this the Christian life?

You may be tempted to go one step further: After asking for forgive­ness, you try your best to lose all consciousness of sin. Even if you are still controlled by sin, just take it easy. Don’t talk about sin, don’t think about it, don’t worry about it, because the blood of Jesus has cleansed you before and will continue to cleanse you forever. So, you don’t need to keep on repenting and asking for forgiveness.

(3) No need to be concerned about your sins?

Don’t worry about sin, we are told, even though sin is eating you up, like a cancer destroying the body. No matter how often you sin, no matter how wretched your spiritual state is, there is always forgiveness. You may be living in spiritual bankruptcy and still piling up debt, but it has all been written off. Even if you accumulate debt for the rest of your life, Jesus’ infinite account will be there to write them off! We can continue to live a debt-ridden, sin-dominated life without being overly concerned about it.

Isn’t there something wrong here? Can we go on accumulating debt forever just because we are told that God will forgive them? Do you see the mortal danger of this kind of thinking? It makes us careless about sin.

But some Christians want to forget about sin because it is tiring to ask for forgiveness again and again, apologizing to the Lord day in and day out. Shouldn’t this come to an end? Isn’t God tired of listening to our endless apologies? In what way does our incessant asking for forgiveness differ from the need to offer sacrifices endlessly under the Law?

Sadly, many Christians have never crossed over from the bond­age to sin described in Romans 7 to the freedom from sin, available only in Christ, described in Romans 8.

(4) Romans 7 a Picture of the Christian Life?

In fact there are those who say that Romans 7 describes the Christian life! If that is so, this kind of “Christian life” is a plain contradiction of the truths expounded in Romans 6 and 8. A careful reading of Romans 7 makes it clear that it is vividly and poignantly portraying the total failure to live a truly spiritual life. The kind of life described in this chapter is, therefore, not “Christian”.

But, sadly, many Christians identify with the description in Romans 7 as correctly portraying their failed “Christian” lives. Scripture, however, must not be interpreted according to our failures in such a way as to exonerate them. On the contrary, our failures must be examined in the light of Scripture, and our lives must be made to conform to what Scripture describes as being “Christian” or as being “in Christ”.

A Christian is “in Christ” because he has been “baptized into Christ… into his death” (Ro.6.3). In Christ, therefore, he has died to sin. And “how shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (6.2). Living in the grip of sin is precisely the situation described in Romans 7. Paul speaks of having “died to sin” not merely in some ceremonial or legal sense, but in relation to the practical matter of daily living, which is his concern throughout chapter 6.

But many Christians did not die with Christ at their baptism. There­fore they did not die to sin, and consequently never experienced the truth of Romans 6.7: “He who has died is free from sin”. Still living their lives trapped under the power of sin, they are caught in the enervating cycle of sin and guilt. Understandably, they look for some psychological release from the guilt which hounds them relentlessly. But we deceive ourselves if we seek to secure a feeling of forgiveness when we are, in fact, still controlled by the power of sin.

(5) The Consciousness of Sin: Psychological or Spiritual?

When Hebrews 10.2 says that the “conscious­ness” of sin is removed through Jesus’ effective sacrifice, is it referring to some­thing purely psychological? If being a Christian is to have a psy­chological feeling of forgiveness, would not the Old Testament sacrifices be equally effective? As far as psychological benefits are concerned, there is nothing defective about the Old Testament sacri­fices. Would not the blood of bulls and goats be sufficient? When I see the animal being sacrificed on my behalf, I trust that Yahweh God accepts the offering because He Himself instit­uted the sacrificial system. I confessed my sins, the animal has been sacrificed, and therefore I am forgiven. There does not appear to be any reason whatever why the Old Testament sacrifices should not be effective psychologically.

I am not aware of any statements in Jewish writings to the effect that the Old Testament sacrifices were unable to remove their guilt feelings. I have not encountered any such complaints in such rabbi­nical or Jewish literature as I have read. Psychologically the animal sacrifices do appear to release those who offer them from a sense of guilt.

The writer to the Hebrews is, however, dealing with spiritual reality rather than psychology. His basic point is that the Old Testa­ment sacrifices did not avail because they could not free anyone from the power of sin—this is a spiritual reality. That being the case, the guilt soon returns when other sins are committed, such that sacrifices must again be offered. Hence the endless cycle of sin and guilt, and sacri­fices. The sacrifices could bring psycho­logical relief, though not for long, but they could not bring freedom from sin, as fully confirmed by experience.

A psychiatrist or psychologist can help to provide some mental relief. He may suggest a holiday on a beautiful island in the Caribbean, and who wouldn’t feel better after that? The blues are driven away. On the purely psychological level, a holiday can do as much for you as going to church. In fact going to church could make you more depressed, espe­cially after listening to a message like this one!

Flipping through the Bible, you soon discover that the Lord Jesus is making life difficult for you: For example, he says you cannot be his disciple unless you deny yourself. Deny yourself? That requirement alone is enough to kill off your good feelings! “Isn’t insisting on self-denial bad psychology?” you may ask. Well, you are right. It confirms that Jesus does not preach psychology. What good psychologist would tell you to deny your own ego? That is bad psychology.

(6) A Psychological Gospel Cannot Save Us

A psychological pain killer to ease the pain of guilt and to provide a measure of comfort for the sorely vexed heart, is to be found in every religion. Surely all religions have something to offer on the psychological level, otherwise why would anyone be drawn to them or adhere to them?

The Old Testament sacrifices undoubtedly have definite psycho­logical value. But when Hebrews says that the con­sciousness of sin is removed through Christ’s sacrifice for us, the reference is to something much more than psychology; it refers to the spiritual experience of actual deliverance from sin. If we have truly been freed from sin and its power, it then follows that we are no longer conscious of sin as an ever-present entity governing our lives and making us do what it wants us to do.

Suppose you say to a drug addict, “Drugs may be bad for you, but don’t you worry about it because everyone is taking drugs nowadays. Just ignore any feelings of guilt.” You are ministering to him psychologically, but he is still controlled by narcotics. Notwithstand­ing your assurances, soon he will feel that drugs are actually des­troying his health and finances. He is conscious that something is seriously wrong.

That is where the gospel of psychology fails. You tell the sinner, “Everything’s fine because Jesus has forgiven your sins,” yet he feels that something is amiss. Finally you explain to him, “The problem is your lack of faith. You are not claiming the free gift of forgiveness. Just hold on to the gift, even if you are still enslaved to sin. Who’s perfect anyway?”

What are we telling the sinner? To ignore sin even if it enslaves him? He will soon discover that no matter how often he takes hold of God’s forgiveness, the power of sin will compel him to sin again and again. He begs for forgiveness all the time, and he knows that something is wrong, yet he is being told that it is basically a problem of his “faith”. What is happening here? Quack doctors are giving him the wrong diagnosis and the wrong prescription. They are saying to a critically ill person, “Don’t worry about the pain. Take this pain killer, and everything’s going to be just fine.” That is symptomatic treatment, and dangerously delusive.

Let God search our hearts and reveal to us whether the sacrifice of Jesus and the power of his blood have freed us from the power of sin. If we feel good on the mental or psychological level when we are still under sin’s dominion, then we are either in a state of spiritual paralysis or self-delusion, or both. This tragic condition exemplifies the meaning of the words, “dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph.2.1).

For this reason, if we are still controlled by sin, it would be better for us to feel bad. That way we will say to the Lord, “Please free me from the bondage I am in.” Recently I was reading a book by a medical specialist who said that where there is pain there is life and with it the hope of recovery. But when the affected area is dead, the pain is felt no more. May the pain of being afflicted by sin still be felt in us and drive us to the Savior.

If we are still enslaved to sin, all this talk about being perfected through Christ’s death won’t make much sense to us because we haven’t experienced it ourselves. Perfection seems unrealistic to those who are still controlled by sin. That may be one reason why few Christians talk about it. To them a life cleansed from sin and freed from its control, even though it is taught in Scripture, is something unattainable, pie-in-the-sky, beyond the blue. Everyone is a compul­sive sinner, so let’s talk about forgiveness instead.

There is no perfection to talk about until we experience true freedom from sin, and not merely psychological improvement. If you are truly free from sin, you wouldn’t need anyone to tell you to feel free. The psychological will follow the actual without the use of gimmicks. If you are truly free, you will feel free, just as the man who is completely free from his drug addiction knows that he is now free. It is as simple as that.

(7) The Light View and the Serious View of Sin

There is a light view of sin, and there is a serious view. The light view is to think we can continue to sin because Christ has paid the penalty. This view is extremely dangerous because it destroys our sensitivity to sin and quenches our conscience with a dose of religion. The light view of sin is often seen in the psychological present­ation of the gospel.

The other is the serious view of sin. If God didn’t take a serious view of sin, would it have been necessary for Christ to die for our sins? Christ paid the penalty for sin. God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Ro.8.32). How readily we read the last part of this verse without taking note of the first part. Paul teaches the same serious view of sin: “If God did not spare the natural branches [referring to the unbelieving Jews who persisted in disobeying God], neither will He spare you” (Ro.11.21). God is gracious and kind, but let no one forget that He is also holy and just; let no one take His mercies for granted. “Continue in His kindness otherwise you also will be cut off” (Ro.11.22).

The Lord himself takes a very serious view of sin, especially among his disciples. Just how serious? Consider these striking words: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Mt.5.29, NIV) These words were addressed to the assembled crowd and to his disciples who were gathered around him (Mt.5.1). If there is in fact no danger of a disciple sinning to the extent of being thrown into hell, what relevance would this statement have for them? If this teaching has little or no relevance for them, why should the rest of the Sermon on the Mount be relevant to them? Moreover, if sin is not to be viewed as a serious matter for a follower of Jesus, in what way need it be considered serious for the crowds? If we are wise, we will heed the apostle’s warning to the Galatian Christians:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature [Gk. “the flesh”], from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Gal.6.7-8).

Gouging out the eye is, of course, to be understood spirit­ually, not literally. In the history of the church no one, as far as we know, has ever literally plucked out an eye. Jesus doesn’t imply that plucking out an eye would solve the problem of sin because, as he affirms in the previous verse, sin is a problem which has its center in man’s heart (Mt.5.28). Gouging out an eye or cutting off a hand (v.30) would not, therefore, get at the root of the problem. The eye looks at what the heart desires to look at. The hand, too, follows the dictates of the heart. But what Jesus is teaching is that drastic action is called for when our entry into eternal life is at risk. This clearly expresses his extremely serious view of sin, especially since he repeats it in Matthew 18.9, this time referring also to hands and feet (v.8):

If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (NIV, cf. Mark 9.43‑48).

To whom does Jesus address these words? Who are the “you” in this statement? The first three verses of the chapter shows that Jesus is speaking to his disciples, and therefore to us Christians.

The Lord most certainly does not teach a light view of sin or a cheap atonement. Anyone who views sin lightly does not realize that the atone­ment was unimaginably costly to the Lord. Some people have a type of faith that borders on presumption, which grabs things in the name of “faith”. Is that faith or is it presumption? To presume on God’s kindness and forgiveness would be the biggest mistake anyone could ever make. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb.10.31)—this expresses a very serious view of sin indeed.

(8) Willful Sin versus Unwitting Sin

The main word for sin in the Hebrew Old Testament (חטא, chata) has the basic meaning “to miss the goal” or “to miss the way”. [50] If, for example, we fail to live the victorious Christian life to which the Lord calls us, we have sinned either by commission or by omission. Either way we have missed the goal, the mark, the calling.

In the Old Testament, sin falls into two main categories: unwit­ting sin and willful sin. Unwitting sin is a sin that is committed uninten­tionally; a command of God was transgressed without our realizing it. In sinning unwittingly, we have made a mistake and missed the mark or the standard of life and conduct which God has set before us.

So serious is the Bible’s view of sin that the only kind of sin that can be forgiven through the sacrifices is unintentional sin—sin committed by mistake.

I stress the word “mistake” because many Christians draw a false distinction between sin and mistake. When you do something that is wrong and call it a “mistake,” meaning that it is something less than a sin, then you don’t really understand what sin is in the Bible. You have taken a light view of sin, not realizing that a sin by mistake is still a sin.

Many people give the excuse that they only made a mistake, it was just an error. That is a human understanding of sin. In Script­ure, sin does not necessarily involve a deliberate decision to commit it.

To say that unintentional sin is still a sin committed by mistake is not to say, conversely, that every mistake is a sin. If you dialed the wrong number on the telephone, that is a mistake but not a sin; sin is something that affects the spiritual life.

If we make a mistake on the spiritual level, that would be unwitting or unintentional sin. We did something wrong without realizing it. For example, we were inconsiderate or simply forgot to carry out a responsi­bility entrusted to us. These are sins of omission, often due to careless­ness. Carelessness is not a minor matter. Many serious accidents are caused by it, sometimes with fatal conse­quences.

Significantly, the word “mistake” or “error” occurs rarely in the Bible. That is not surprising when we realize that a mistake is nonetheless a sin for which restitution plus a penalty, or a sacrifice, may be required. An example of the first is found in Leviticus 22.14, “If anyone eats a sacred offering by mistake, he must make restitution to the priest for the offering and add a fifth of the value to it” (NIV). Other translations have “unwittingly” or “unintention­ally” instead of “mistake”. Another exam­ple is seen in Lev.4:13-15:

Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error, and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty; when the sin which they have com­mitted becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a bull of the herd for a sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting. Then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before Yahweh, and the bull shall be slain before Yahweh.

In this passage, an error is regarded as something that is “committed,” for which the congregation is guilty. It is specifically described as a sin, even though the people were not aware of the error at first. Consequently, a sin offering had to be made.

The Second Danger: To Misuse Freedom or Forgiveness Actually Received

No Forgiveness for Intentional Sin

In the case of intentional sins, the consequences are extremely serious. If, for example, you tell a lie deliberately with the intention to harm someone by misleading him, then you are in big trouble because you have sinned intentionally. Scripture gives a frightening warning: There is no forgiveness for deliberate sin. Such a sin is unpardonable. That is undoubtedly one important reason why the apostle Paul exhorted us to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil.2.12). As a trained rabbi, Paul thoroughly understood sin in its Biblical meaning. But many people, not knowing this important fact about sin, are baffled by the apostle’s words. In this connection, consider carefully these words of the Law,

But if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement before Yahweh for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven. One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whet­her he is a native-born Israelite or an alien.

But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes Yahweh, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised Yahweh’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him. (Num.15.27-31, NIV)

To sin willfully or intentionally is an act of defiance against God. It is to deliberately ignore and reject God’s will by insisting on doing one’s own will. It is the hubris, the arrogance, of putting our will above the will of the Most High God. That is arrogance indeed. In the Hebrew text, this idea of self-exaltation is found the words which literally mean “with a high hand,” translated “defiantly” in the text quoted above. RSV and ESV give the literal translation “with a high hand”. So it can be said, justi­fiably, that deliberate sin is a form of apostasy, for by it the sinner in his arrogance “blasphemes the Lord” (Num.15.30).

Let it be clearly understood, therefore, that in the Old Testament the only kind of sin that could be forgiven was unwitting sin; there was no forgiveness or sacrifice for intentional sin. The high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to present an offering of blood “for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance” (Heb.9.7).

Hebrews 10.26 applies this principle to us when it says, “For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” This verse is frightening because it plainly states the seriousness of willful sin. It is addressed to Christians (“we”), not non-Christians. It speaks to those who have received the “knowledge of the truth”; it has in mind the covenant people of God (cf. “His people” in verse 30).

Verse 29 too refers to a Christ­ian when it speaks of a person who has profaned “the blood of the covenant by which he was sanc­tified.” Compare this with verse 14 which speaks of the believer as being “sanctified” by Christ’s sacrifice. Moreover, Hebrews 13.12 says that Jesus suffered in order to “sanctify the people through his own blood.”

If anyone spurns the blood of the New Covenant (Testament) after having been sanctified by it, there is no more sacrifice for him. Hebrews brings out this point in the form of a question: What punishment is appropriate in such a case, seeing that the punish­ment was already severe under the Old Testament for this kind of sin? Hebrews 10.28,29 reminds us of the fact that,

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Yet there are people in the churches who still close their ears to what the Scriptures teach so clearly. “No, no, this cannot be. There must be a mistake.” A mistake? How our eyes deceive us, and how our ears are deaf to plain language! For the sake of our own eternal good, let us look carefully at what is written here and listen attentively to what is being said.

The word “deliberately” or “willingly” (ἑκουσίως, hekousiōs) is often used in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) of the freewill offering. The word hekousiōs occurs, for example, in Psalm 54.6: “With a freewill offering[51] I will sacrifice to You”.[52] The word “freewill” implies that the person is not under any external compulsion or pressure. He chooses to do something willingly, intentionally, and freely.

The same word is used in 1 Peter 5.2 where Peter exhorts the elders to tend the flock of God “not by constraint but willingly”—again the contrast between serving willingly and serving under compulsion. The leaders are to shepherd the flock voluntarily, freely, gladly.

In the same way, if a man sins deliberately, he has chosen to sin of his own free will. He was not under any external compulsion to sin. For such a person there is no more sacrifice. Frightening, is it not? It will be for our eternal blessing if this truth frightens us enough to shake us out of spiritual complacency.

(1) Sinning Without External Compulsion

In the Old Testament, if a person sinned delib­erately without any external compulsion, he was put to death without mercy, even if he had committed the sin in weakness.

Let’s take the sin of adultery. Let’s suppose that two persons com­mitted adultery, but without prior plan or arrangement. They didn’t say to one another, “Let’s get together and do this thing.” But one day they found themselves alone and as the hours went by, the mutual attraction grew stronger. In their weakness they finally committed adultery without any prior plan, design, or arrangement. Do you think this is pardonable under the Law of Moses? The unequivocal answer is found in Leviticus 20.10, “The adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death”—“without mercy” as Hebrews 10.28 puts it. This is consistently the case under the Law.

Weakness was not a legitimate plea under the Old Testament. Do we think it is under the New Testament? It is not. And why not? The answer is simple: We have no excuse for this kind of weakness under the New Testament because God has given us all the grace and power we need through the Holy Spirit to be victorious in every situation. That is the good news of Romans 8.

If the plea of weakness was not accept­ed under the relatively excusable conditions of life under the Old Testament (they hadn’t received the Holy Spirit as we have), how much less under the New Testament? In the old system, it was much more difficult to resist temptation (though not impossible, as the case of Joseph shows, Gen.39.10-12) because people didn’t have the Holy Spirit. Frailty of the flesh was a more reasonable plea under the Old Testament, yet it wasn’t accepted. The one who committed adult­ery, or who murdered in a fit of rage (Lev.24.17), was liable to the death sentence even if he appealed for mercy on the grounds of human weakness.

Brothers and sisters, in the case of deliberate sin, how will a Christian plead under the New Test­ament? The fact that God has given every Christian the Holy Spirit, so that by the Spirit’s enabling he can triumph in the face of every temptation, leaves him without the least excuse. The truth—the fearful truth—is that if sin is deliberately and inten­tionally committed, there is no longer a sacrifice to atone for it. Furthermore, as we saw in the previous section, deliberate sin is decidedly a form of apostasy.

For this reason many people in the early church period (includ­ing, notably, the first Christian emperor Constantine) would not get baptized until they reached their death beds, being afraid of the judgment awaiting those who commit post-baptismal sin and particularly deliberate sin.

Concerning this very serious matter, I venture to make a suggestion, though I dare not be dogmatic about it: If I under­stand Scripture correct­ly, it seems to me that even in the case where a person has sinned deliber­ately, or thinks he has done so, he should repent immediately, pleading to God for forgiveness. What do we lose by throwing ourselves upon His mercy?

Whether forgiveness will be granted or not, we don’t know, for admittedly the words in Hebrews 10.26 are unmistakably clear. And even John, known as the “apostle of love,” does say that we should not pray for the one who has committed “a sin that leads to death” (NIV, 1John 5.16-17). But all sin leads to death (Ro.6.23). So clearly John is referring to a kind of sin that leads to death irreversibly, that is, a sin for which there is no sacrifice or forgiveness. Hence, it refers to intentional or defiant sin, of which the most heinous is apostasy.

Could it be that those who commit deliberate sin have already hardened their hearts against God to the extent they will adamantly refuse to repent, and thus put themselves beyond the reach of mercy and forgiveness? If so, then a person who still genuinely repents shows there­by that he hasn’t yet so hardened his heart as to be beyond mercy and forgiveness. And God looks into our hearts.

(2) A Closer Look at the Meaning of “Intentional Sin”

To gain a more precise understanding of the exceedingly important matter of “intentional sin,” a closer look at both “intent­ional” and “sin” is needed.

(1) “Intentional”. The synonyms “intentional”, “willful”, or “delib­erate” all refer to the human will. If a man’s will is not free to function normally due to, for example, mental illness or derange­ment, then he cannot be held accountable for his actions in a court of law. Similarly, if our wills are not free, we won’t be liable for our actions before God’s judgment seat. “Willful” presup­poses at least a relative freedom of the will.

To maintain that man’s will is in total bondage to sin is also to maintain that man is thereby absolved of responsibility for his sins. But Scripture undoubtedly holds man responsible for his sins, and prescribes the penalty he must bear for it. No plea based on the loss of the freedom of the will is anywhere entertained in the Word of God.

Some mistakenly suppose that Romans chapter 7, espec­ially verses 15-19, speaks of a bondage of the will. A careful reading shows that exactly the opposite is true. The man who is in bondage to sin, as depicted there, repeatedly groans over the fact that the good he desires to do, he finds himself unable to do, but ends up doing “the very evil that I do not wish” (v.19b). The same lament is made in v.15, which the NIV translates concisely as “what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do”. His will is certainly free, but he is unable to carry out what he wills. That a person is still capable of willing is clearly stated in v.18: “To will is present with me” (KJV, NKJ). The problem is not in the willing but in the doing, for “how to perform what is good I do not find” (v.18b).

The truth described here can be illustrated by the case of a man in prison. His will remains free even though his body is incarcerated behind prison bars. In that situation, he is unable to do what he wants to do, but the activity of his mind and his will is not immobilized by prison walls. Many a disciple of Christ, for example, though confined to prison for many long years, never lost their commitment and devotion to Christ. Their enemies can imprison the body but they cannot thereby subdue the will. This is true also of a good number of political prisoners who remain committed to their ideology even after long imprisonment. That is also the truth portrayed in Romans 7.

For this reason, too, it is true neither to Scripture nor to exper­ience to say that all non-Christians—unregenerate people who haven’t yet be­come new persons in Christ and haven’t yet experienced freedom from sin—are necessarily compulsive law-breakers who cannot help but com­mit adultery, robbery, or murder.

If that were so, if indeed the will of every unregenerate person were in such bondage as to be incapable of willing anything but evil, then even human courts of law cannot pass judgment upon them. Moreover, judges who are unregenerate would be in exactly the same predicament as the accused. How could they be able to hand down just judgments? The fact is that unregenerate people can be good, law-abiding citizens, who respect and uphold the law.

What then did the apostle mean when he said that the good “I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (7.15)? This question takes us to the second word in “intentional sin”.

(2) “Sin”. An accurate understanding of the nature of “sin” in this context is necessary. In Romans 7 the issue involves “good” and “evil” (vv.19,21). This makes it evident, therefore, that the apostle is here concerned with spiritual realities, not legal ones. What is spirit­ual is internal; it has to do with the “inner man,” the spirit of man. The legal, on the other hand, is external; it cannot govern man’s will or what he thinks.

Once we understand the distinction between the spiritual and the legal, the inner and the outer, we can see how a person can be a law-abiding citizen, yet inwardly remain a wretched sinner before God.

That is why Paul’s statement that he was blameless with respect to the Law (Phil.3.6), a law which he observed meticulously (as some Jews still do today), in no way contradicts the fact that he still found himself in bondage to sin, as is so mournfully and movingly ex­pressed in Romans 7. Some people, failing to distinguish these two levels of life (that is, life on the level of legal observances as distinct from life on the spiritual level), rashly conclude that the apostle was contra­dicting himself.

Sin defined on the spiritual level as distinct from the legal, is to be seen in relation to the two great commandments: loving God and loving the neighbor (Mt.22.37-40; Mk.12.29-31). Love in Scripture is not just a matter of emotions, but of the will. And obeying the commandments is certainly also a matter of the will. Moreover, the two great commands are spiritual in character. Love cannot be legislated into existence by law. To have God’s love in us is only possible if we have God’s life in us. It is this new life that enables us to obey His call to love.

Law can define the kinds of action that must be taken in a situation, but it cannot provide the power to do them. That is why on the moral level, the law is generally prohibitive in what it prescribes, “You shall not…” Hence law as such cannot legislate on the inner or spiritual life; it can only govern man’s external behavior. But love is of the heart, of the will. That is why love and its “fruit” stand outside the scope of any law because, as the apostle puts it, “against such there is no law” (Gal.5.23).

It should now be clear that the seriousness of “intentional sin” lies in the fact that it is sin committed first and foremost on the spiritual level. It is no mere external act, but an act emanating from the will, the heart, and the spirit of a person, that is, from his inner­most being. When defiance against God comes from this level of a man’s being, what hope is there for him?

(3) The Lack of Commitment and the Looming Danger of Willful Sin: The Corrupt Police Chief

In view of these sobering matters, it is of the greatest importance that, after having been freed from the guilt and the power of sin, we exercise the utmost care never to willfully misuse our freedom and power in Christ. As true disciples of Jesus, we have been granted the power to overcome temptation and to stand fast against the forces of evil. But that does not prevent us from sinning if we deliberately choose to sin. We are open to this danger especially if our commitment to the Lord is partial and therefore inadequate.

Concerning the danger of partial commitment, which is really a lack of commitment, let me illustrate what I mean with a true story which I read in “Daily Gleaner,”[53] a Jamaican newspaper I picked up during a visit there. It is a news report about an ex-police chief in Mexico City. While he was still the chief of police, the authorities became suspicious when they found out that he was exceedingly rich. The report says that he owned two large resid­ences, 17 thoroughbred horses, 19 collector’s cars, a huge cache of weapons, and a super-modern discotheque to entertain his guests. He had two estates, one of which was located in a resort city, and decorated with fountains, statues, and even gold furnishings in the bathrooms.

In his tax declaration he stated that his net worth was 600,000 American dollars, which was substantial by most standards. But his true worth was estimated to be at least 12.5 million dollars, an amount which was scandalous given that he was earning a civil servant’s salary. When the story came out, the people of Mexico, a poor country, were outraged.

His main aide published a book describing his activities. The police chief would sometimes throw a party and use police heli­copters to fly in 300 or more guests. He had no scruples about using public funds to finance these events.

He also encouraged his offi­cers to accept bribes. Drivers in Mexico City had to routinely pay large bribes to avoid being charged with traffic violations. Mexico City’s traffic is so con­gested that finding a place to park is often difficult. The usual solution is to park illegally and to give the policeman on the beat a bribe. A share of these bribes is passed on from officer to officer right up to the police chief, who also receives large bribes from other sources.

The author of the book describes how the police chief was involved in drug smuggling, fraud, and homicide. The writer himself confesses to carrying out several of the murders on the police chief’s orders. The police chief felt that his rank and office would keep him safe from prosecution. But when the investigators were closing in on him, he was nowhere to be found. He had already made his exit, taking a lot of money with him.

Here was a chief law enforcement officer who was supposed to protect the citizens and their rights, and to safeguard the interests of the poor. Yet in his few years in office, he had managed to steal 12.5 million dollars. The chief guardian of the law turned out to be the biggest crook of all.

Without going further into this sordid story, let us look into the root of the problem. Did this man initially join the police force with the intention of reaching the top and making a fortune through corruption? That is, was he a criminal from the start, with the intention of using his office for criminal gain? Or did he join the police force as an officer with genuinely noble ideals of law and justice, but as the temptations came along, he could not resist them and finally became the top criminal of all? Which was the case? Was he a criminal in the first place, or was he a genuine officer who succumbed to tempt­ation? How do we analyze this problem?

The fact is that in the end it doesn’t really matter what was the real motive of the police chief when he first joined the police force, even if this could be known, because the end result is what ultimately matters. Whether he started out as a criminal or as an honest man, whichever is the case, the fact remains that he ended up being a criminal.

Ezekiel 33.13 says that if a righteous man turns to iniquity, none of his former righteous deeds will be remembered, and he will die. He may start off as a righteous man, but if he ends up in wicked­ness, he will be judged as a wicked man, not as a righteous man.

Looking at the case, we see that either way there was a fun­damental problem of commitment. In the end it made no difference whether this person joined the police force with a total commitment that eroded away with time, or just a partial commitment, or no commitment at all, because all these tend to end up in the same way.

(4) Partial Commitment: A Door to Deliberate Sin

To help us draw out the spiritual lessons that we need to learn from this sad episode, let us ask, ‘Why would a person sin delib­erately?’ The problem is with the will. How can we prevent the frightening prospect of taking a fatal turn into deliberate or willful sin—a sin for which no sacrifice remains to atone for it (Heb.10.26)? There is only one way: It is absolutely essential that we make sure that our will is fully yielded to God and is kept that way day by day by God’s grace. For “no one who lives in Him keeps on sinning” (1Jo.3.6, NIV) “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us” (1Jo.3.24).

Relying on God’s grace, make sure that your will is wholly in line with His. That is total commitment: Every part of our will—every aspect of our lives—is wholly and unre­servedly committed to God. If this is not the case in your lives, brothers and sisters, one of these days you could sin willfully precisely because you have not chosen to yield your will in glad obedience to Him who is Lord of all.

As we saw in the case of the police chief, hav­ing no commitment and having a partial com­mitment lead to the same result. In fact partial commitment is a most dangerous self-delusion.

How many Christians claim to be committed to the Lord when they are in fact only partially committed? Part of your will may be committed to God, perhaps 90%, but in that case you are holding back 10%. When faced with the pressure or temptation to sin, you will eventually succumb to it. As is rightly said, “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”. How long can a city stand when 10% of its walls are breached, or have not been built up, thereby providing a more than adequate gap for the attacking forces?

A partially committed person is really un­committed, because he decides for himself what he chooses to commit and what to hold back. He, not Christ, is the lord of his own life. Partial commit­ment leads to dangerous self-delusion, because you are claiming to be committed when in fact you are not. One of these days, when you are under temptation or persecu­tion, you will find a back exit door.

Total commitment, on the other hand, means that I burn the bridges behind me that lead back to the world and the old way of life governed by sin. After putting my hand to the plow, I don’t look back (cf. Lk.9.62). I am finished with the past, forgetting the things behind me, and I press ahead. I live facing the future. I travel on a one-way street and keep going forward.

But the partially committed person, like Lot’s wife (Gen.19.26; Lk.17.32), keeps looking back. When the going gets tough, he sneaks out through the back door.

Why do so many marriages end in divorce? Would divorce take place if the husband and wife were totally committed to one another? But because their commitment is partial, they use the escape hatch when their marriage runs into difficulties. If they were totally committed to each other, there would be no question of separation or divorce. Commitment is commitment, so I will stick to the end. I will love to the end whether my love is reciprocated or not.

Some people like to “try out” marriage. But marriage is not something you try out like a pair of shoes. Yet that is how many people treat marriage nowadays. If it doesn’t fit, discard it like a pair of shoes, and go for divorce!

As for the marriage vows, “for richer”, yes; “for poorer”, no. “For better”, yes; “for worse”, never! This is partial commitment in full disclosure. Not surprisingly, many non-Christians prefer to live together without bothering to go through the trouble of getting married and then getting a divorce later on.

Similarly, there are people who “try out” the Chris­tian life. Nowa­days there is a trial period for many products. If you are not satisfied with the product, return it within thirty days and get your money back. But Christianity is even better. You can try it out for as long as you like. If in the end you don’t like it, just walk away. What kind of Christianity is this? But the Lord’s answer is succinct, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk.9.62). In view of this un­equivocal statement, let no Christian disqualify himself by heading for the exit doors when the going gets tough or the per­secution becomes severe.

Let us examine our commitment before God. The apostle exhorts us, “Let a man examine himself,” which is something we will benefit from doing regularly, especially before partaking of the bread and the cup at the Lord’s Table (1Cor.11.28). When the Christian life gets tough, will we say, “Okay, let’s go for the escape hatch”? When things get too difficult will we choose to quit?

We must understand that in choosing to quit we sin deliberately, exposing God’s Name to public shame. To desert God, to apostatize, is to sin deliberately. Whether we deny Him by word or by deed, it still amounts to apostasy.

We won’t know freedom from sin until we have settled our commit­ment to God once and for all, knowing in our heart that by God’s grace and His indwelling presence, our commitment is complete and without reserve, without condi­tional clauses, without escape hatches, and without backward glances.

May the Psalmist’s prayer be ours too:

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous (NIV: willful) sins; Let them (i.e. errors, hidden faults, and sins) not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. (Ps.19.12,13)

 


[47] See, e.g., Leviticus 1.4; 4.20; 5.6; 6.7; 9.7 etc. “Atonement” in all these refs. translates the Hebrew kapar (כפר), which occurs 44 times in Leviticus and 121 times in the Hebrew Old Testament (OT). Therefore more than one third of all the occurrences in the OT are in Leviticus. It occurs 13 times in Leviticus chapter 16 alone. In Numbers, it occurs 17 times.

[48] Cf. Under the heading “Faith: Seeing the Unseen” near the beginning of the last chapter.

[49] In the Pauline letters, “sanctified” and “sanctification” are used in essen­tially the same way as in Hebrews. For instance, 1Corintians 6.11 says, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”. Notice how “sanctified” stands after “washed” but before “justified,” indicating that it has to do with cleansing from sin through Jesus’ blood; likewise 1Corinthians 1.30, where “sanctification” is mentioned before “redemption”. “Salvation” is “through sanctification by the Spirit” (2Thess.2.13); this is because we are sanctified by “by the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” to “cleanse” us, in order that we may “serve the living God” (Heb.9.13,14). Sanctifi­cation is essential to salvation, because “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb.12.14).

[50] For example, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines hata as “miss, miss the way, sin, incur guilt…” It further says that “the basic meaning of the root is to miss a mark or a way.” (R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer Jr, B.K. Waltke, Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois, 1980) (BC)

[51] On the “free will” offering, besides the standard Bible dictionaries, refer­ence can be made to the old but still informative work “Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament” by J.H.Kurtz (trans. by J.Martin), Baker 1980 reprint, p.262f.

[52] This verse is Psalm 53.8 in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint), due to differences in the verse referencing system. (BC)

[53] February 10, 1984.

 

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