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FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES
Under Moses the trespass offering was compulsory:
Are Christians just as responsible today for their trespasses? Or
did the law of trespass apply only to Israel? Read what Paul had
to say regarding those outside the commonwealth of Israel.
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened,
who were dead in “trespasses and sins”, for when Gentiles,
who have no law, obey by natural instinct the commands of the Law,
they even though they have no law, are a law to themselves.
Romans 2:14-16 “For they show
that the work of the Law is written in their hearts, while their
conscience bears them witness, as their reasoning accuses, or defends
them, in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus
Christ, according to my gospel. (MNT) We were taught to pray “forgive
us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors; those that
trespass against us”.
To keep crime in check and protect the innocent God demanded judgment.
Leviticus 6:2-5 "If a person sins
and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbour
about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge,
or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbour, "or
if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears
falsely-in any one of these things that a man may do in which he
sins: "then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty,
that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he
has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the
lost thing which he found, "or all that about which he has
sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add
one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs,
on the day of his trespass offering. (NKJV)
Trespass is defined as “wrong done against the Lord”:
The priest was the mediator between man and man, and God and man.
And he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD,
a ram without blemish out of the flock, at the price estimated for
a guilt offering.
Those who are actively engaged in the work of God will surely confess
what to some seems quite incredible, that often we have unwittingly
trespassed in the work and worship of the Lord. I believe there
is not an act of any kind, whether of praise, or prayer, or worship,
or ministry, which can through Satan's cunning, prove to be an occasion
for the flesh to trespass. I have no doubt that those in His service
will recognize instances where that which has been done either for
the Lord or in His name has in hindsight been discovered to have
been mixed with trespass. The trespass may not have been recognized
at the time, but the fact still remains, that a trespass is a trespass
recognized or unrecognized. We may be unconscious of the evil, but
that it does not alter it.
Leviticus 5:15 If a soul commit a trespass,
and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of
the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram
without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels
of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy
thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the
priest: and the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram
of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. And if a
soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to
be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he whist it not,
yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
This settled the question of guilt on the part of the one breaking
the law whether he was conscious of it or not when the crime was
committed. He was as much a lawbreaker before he knew, as he was
afterward. Thus ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law or being
freed from responsibility after is broken.
How serious is this truth that is set before us here:
That neither our conscience, nor our measure of light, but
God’s word alone, is the standard by which both
sin and trespass are to be measured and judged. If man's conscience
were the standard, every man would have a different rule. And so
accordingly, right or wrong, good or evil, would depend, not upon
God's Word, but upon each individual’s apprehension of it.
At this rate no man could be convicted of his wrongdoing; so long
as he could plead he was ignorant of the fact that his behaviour
was unacceptable. But we do not judge this way in our Law Courts;
nor does God judge by any standards other than His own.
We judge by our perceptions, according to our knowledge and then
plead ignorance as our defence when we are caught out, and although
God in grace finds means for pardoning it, He still adjudges evil
as evil wherever and in whomever it is found.
Our ignorance and blindness does not alter His judgment:
It is our wilful sin of ignorance and that only which causes the
Let’s go a little deeper:
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that
is My name; And My glory I will not give to another…...”
We who serve the Lord ought to walk circumspectly when recounting
the things that we are involved in regarding our labours for Christ.
We are guilty of trespassing against the Lord when we exaggerate
and take credit (perhaps ignorantly) for what He achieved as though
we by our power accomplished the deeds we testify to. We drop names;
embellish events; make reckless claims, report victories; and inflate
numbers; all which seem to grow next time we relate our exploits.
We are often guilty of lifting up the Lord’s servants and
extolling their miraculous abilities as though these (super-saints)
were the authors of these miracles; and in so doing we can become
an instrument in the hands of the enemy to bring about their fall.
If pride could turn an archangel into a devil, what could it do
to any of us?
It is so easy for any of us to commit a trespass against the Lord
and steal His rightful claims by promoting our ministries to impress
our hearers. Although I might plead ignorance I am judged guilty
nevertheless. I confess I have trespassed as much as any in this
until He showed me what I was doing. We may have thought it was
glorifying Him, but we need to recognise that the Lord does not
need our assistance to reinforce His position in the Universe. All
He asks is our obedience in exchange for His companionship. Such
is the sin of trespass; and the broad measure of it is something
that we need to be fully aware of and shun.
Praise is to God, who not only convinces us of our sins, but also
testifies of Him by whose offering our sins are pardoned. He that
sees Jesus in the Trespass-offering sees that Christ confessed to
it, bore its judgment, and paid its penalty. Not only was “His
soul an offering for sin, but He was wounded for our transgressions,”
the judgment for our trespasses was laid upon Him. Here He stood,
“the just for the unjust,” confessing the sins and trespasses
of His people as His. By this He made full atonement and restitution
for us and in so doing satisfied the righteous demands of His Heavenly
Father. 1 Peter 3:18.
In the case of one’s ignorance of the Lord’s commandments
on certain points, when he became aware of his trespass he was to
offer a ram without blemish to for atone for his sin. Vs 17-18.
An estimate made by the priest was to be agreed upon by the sinner
and the one he had wronged regarding the damage done. This amount
had to be repaid with an additional 20% before it could be forgiven
and peace restored between the parties.
These particulars, respecting the payment of money in connection
with the offering, are not only very definite, but quite remarkable.
We need to realise that the trespass offering was a sin against
the Lord. And because His name was taken in vain, restitution by
confession of guilt had to be made to Him.
The cost of the offering was borne by the trespasser.
When Achan at Jericho trespassed against the Lord, he could have
come forward and confessed and paid for his sin in the manner of
the Trespass offering, but he chose otherwise and was judged accordingly.
The devoted thing thus became the accursed thing to Achan. It not
only cost him his life, but the lives of those that aided and abetted
him paid with their lives also.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why
have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day."
So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with
fire after they had stoned them with stones.
1 Corinthians 11:29-31 for he who eats
and drinks unworthily eats and drinks condemnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many among you are weak
and sickly, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we
would not be judged.