But there is something more that we need to see. At the time we repented to take the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we did not realize that we were so sinful. We may have realized that we were not so good and that we had done many wrong things, but we never realized that we are just sin itself. Whether we intend to do something sinful or we do not intend to do something sinful, we are just sin. Therefore, the word “unwittingly” is used in Leviticus 4. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin unwittingly against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them: if the priest that is anointed do sin so as to bring guilt on the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering” (Lev. 4:1-3, lit.).
For this word “unwittingly” we could also use “unwillingly,” “ignorantly,” “unaware,” or “inadvertently.” This is a picture, and it means that we must realize while we are enjoying the Lord as our burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering, we are just sin. Regardless of whether we have the intention of hating others or not, eventually we will hate them. Whether we are willing to lose our temper or not, we will simply lose it. We may not even like to be proud, but we will certainly be proud. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 7. He says that the things he hates to do, that is what he does. He does not want to do it, yet he does it. Perhaps in the morning we make a decision not to gossip at all that day. But during the day we gossip more than ever. We make a decision not to criticize others anymore, yet an hour later we are very critical of someone. Paul says in Romans 7:17, “Now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.” It is not I, but sin. In Galatians 2:20, we have this word: “No longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Romans 7 says that it is not I, but sin. It is another person as in Galatians 2:20, but this person’s name is not Christ; this person’s name is sin. His first name is sin, his last name is sin, and his middle name is also sin. Sin! Sin! Sin! “Now it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
We may think that we are doing a wonderful deed, but eventually we may discover that what we had done was terrible. At the time we did it, we thought it was wonderful. But it turned out to be awful. What does this prove? It simply proves that within us there is something called sin, and this sin is just ourselves.
Leviticus 4 is very difficult for people to understand. When I was a young Christian, I tried for many years to understand this chapter, but I failed to do so. First of all, this chapter says that if a priest does something wrong unwittingly, he must offer the sin offering. Then it says that if the congregation of the Lord’s people does something unwittingly, they must offer the sin offering. Later it says that if a ruler among the people does something wrong unwittingly, he must offer the sin offering. And it even mentions that if a common person does anything wrong unwittingly, he must offer the sin offering. By this picture, we can realize that this is a congregation that is worshiping and serving God, which is exactly what we are doing today. We are simply a congregation that worships God by enjoying Christ as our burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering. We may think that we are getting along quite well. We are in the recovery of the church life, so whatever we do surely must be right. However, it may seem right today, but after three weeks, we may discover that what we did three weeks ago was horrible.
This chapter first mentions that the leading serving one may do something wrong. Yet he may think that it is one hundred percent correct. He does it unwittingly. After a certain time, he discovers that it was wrong. What is this? This is not a kind of mistake. This is something out of our inner being. Our inward being is just sin; therefore, what comes out cannot be right. This chapter goes on to say that the whole congregation, a ruler in the congregation, or a common person in the congregation may do something wrong. All of these persons do something wrong unwittingly. The picture here shows us that within us there is something that always causes us to be wrong. This chapter does not deal with mistakes or wrong doing; it deals with the source of our mistakes.
What is the source of our mistakes? We may say that it is sin, but this can be just a doctrinal answer. We must realize that we are the source of all our mistakes. If there were no one in the local church, surely the local church would never make any mistakes. But the more brothers and sisters there are, the more mistakes will be made. If we had only ten brothers and sisters meeting together, surely the mistakes could never be as many as we have today; today we have almost one thousand sources. This chapter does not deal with mistakes, but with the source of our mistakes. And that is our very self. We are just sin. Therefore, we need Christ as our sin offering. Within every drop of our blood and every fiber of our muscle is sin. We are simply constituted of sin. And because we are sin, we need a sin offering. Praise the Lord that Christ is our sin offering! Second Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ was made sin for us.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)