Life-Study of Leviticus, by Witness Lee

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The sin offering was to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering was slaughtered (Lev. 6:25). This indicates that the sin offering is based upon the burnt offering, and it signifies that Christ is the sin offering for us based upon His being the burnt offering. Christ must be the burnt offering for God’s satisfaction that He might be qualified to be our sin offering.

If we have never enjoyed Christ as the burnt offering, we cannot realize how sinful we are. We heard the gospel and repented, realizing that we are sinful. But we cannot know how sinful we are until we enjoy Christ as our burnt offering. The burnt offering means that mankind, created by God for the purpose of expressing and representing Him, should be for nothing other than God and should be absolutely for God. However, we are not absolutely for God. We need to realize this and take Christ as our burnt offering. Only when we enjoy Christ as our burnt offering will we realize how sinful we are.

If we realize how sinful we are, we will know that our love as well as our hate may be sinful. Ethically, to hate others is wrong and to love others is right. We may think that in the eyes of God loving others is acceptable and hating others is not acceptable. But in the eyes of God we hate people for ourselves and also love people for ourselves, not for God. From this point of view, loving others is just as sinful as hating others. Whatever we do for ourselves and not for God—whether it is moral or immoral, good or evil, a matter of love or of hate—is sinful in the eyes of God. As long as you do a certain thing for yourself, it is sinful.

God created us that we might be for Him. He created us to be His expression and His representation. He did not create us for ourselves. But we live independently of Him. When we hate others, we are independent of God, and when we love others, we are also independent of God. This means that in God’s sight our hatred and our love are the same.

Furthermore, neither our hatred nor our love is from our spirit. Rather, both our hatred and our love are from our flesh, and both are from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil signifies Satan. We should not think that only doing evil is of Satan and doing good is not. Doing both good and evil may be of Satan. We need to realize that anything we do out of ourselves, whether good or evil, is for ourselves, and since it is for ourselves it is sin.

I would point out once again that sin involves a power struggle. We may love others for ourselves—for our name, position, benefit, and pride. This kind of love is in the power struggle with God. We need to pray, “Lord, save me from doing anything for my pride, for my name, for my promotion, for my benefit, for my interests.” This is to be saved from the power struggle with God. When we love others for our name and promotion, we are not for God. This kind of love is of Satan; it is in the flesh, and it is sin. Whatever is in the flesh is sin, whatever is sin in our flesh is Satan, and whatever is done there by Satan is the power struggle.

Some may wonder about our love as Christian parents for our children. Our love for our children may be in the flesh. The New Testament charges us to raise up our children in the Lord. However, we may raise up our children for ourselves and our future. This is sin.

Even in the church life we may do things that are not for God but for ourselves. We may do something that is very good, yet deep within our hidden intention is to do that good thing for ourselves. This is sinful. For example, in giving a testimony or in praying, we may want everyone to say “amen” to us. We may offer a high, spiritual prayer, but our aim in doing so may be to receive the “amens.” Such a prayer is sinful because it is not absolutely for God. From this we see that even in our prayer there is the power struggle with God. We desire position, not God.

Because we may have hidden motives in doing spiritual things, the Lord Jesus spoke concerning those who do things apparently for God but actually for the purpose of advancing themselves. Therefore, He said, “Take heed not to do your righteousness before men to be gazed at by them” (Matt. 6:1). Concerning giving alms He said, “Let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (v. 3). Concerning prayer He went on to say, “When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners that they may appear to men” (v. 5). Concerning fasting He said, “Whenever you fast, do not be as the hypocrites of a sad countenance; for they disguise their faces so that they may appear to men to be fasting” (v. 16). Even in doing righteousness, giving alms, praying, and fasting there may be a power struggle with God. To do these things for ourselves and not for God is sinful in His eyes. Those who do such things for themselves give no ground to God; instead, all the ground is for themselves.

To take Christ as the sin offering is very deep. The experience of the sin offering is altogether related to our enjoyment of the Lord Jesus as our burnt offering. The more we love the Lord and enjoy Him, the more we will know how evil we are. Sometimes, when we love the Lord to the uttermost, we may feel that there is no place to hide ourselves. Paul had such a realization concerning himself. When he was seeking the Lord, he saw that there was nothing good in himself.

(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)