By now we all should be clear that we have two needs. The first is that we must realize we are sin. Whenever we come into the presence of God, regardless of whether we have done wrong or not, we are just sin. Even if we have never done anything wrong, we still need Jesus as our sin offering. The second need is that we have many sins. We have to be right with God and right with man, and this is what Leviticus 5 and 6 tell us. But we are wrong both with God and with man; we have committed many sins. The trespass offering deals with our being wrong with God and with others. Chapter five says that if we are wrong with God, we need the trespass offering. Then chapter six says that if we are wrong with others, we also need the trespass offering.
Chapter four speaks only of a priest, the congregation, a ruler, or a common person doing something unwittingly against God. There is nothing definite in that chapter. But chapters five and six are very definite. For example, suppose an Israelite gives God only nine percent of his produce, instead of ten percent. He is wrong with God because he owes Him one percent. This is a very definite matter. It is unlike that which is mentioned in chapter four. This is because the sin in our nature is not so definite, but the sins in our actions are very definite.
When we owe anything to God, we must first offer the trespass offering and then make restitution. But when we owe anything to man, we must first make restitution and then offer the trespass offering. Also, when we make restitution both to God and to man, we must add one fifth. What does it mean to add one fifth? Five in the Bible always means responsibility. Because we did wrong, we did not bear the responsibility in the right way; therefore, we must add something. This means that we must realize more responsibility. If we owe something to others, first of all we must make restitution to restore what we owe. Then we should offer the trespass offering to God. But if we owe something to God, we must offer the trespass offering first, and then make restitution.
All of these portions of the Word show us how right we must be in the tent of meeting. We must realize that we are sin, so we need Jesus as our sin offering. Then we must be right with God in a definite way. We cannot just say that we are sinful; we must look into our daily walk to see if we owe anything to God. If we are short, then we are not right with God. This means that if we are wrong with God in anything or if we owe God anything, we must make restitution. If the Lord would enlighten us, I am afraid that we would see many things in which we are not right with God. In many instances, we owe God something—in this aspect and in that aspect. So we must apply Jesus as the trespass offering to all our shortcomings in the presence of God. And we must also be practical and make restitution.
In 1933, when I was in Shanghai, Brother Nee published a book on Leviticus 6, entitled The Restitution of the Trespass Offering. In this book Brother Nee said that as the Lord’s people, we must be right with everyone. We should not owe anyone anything. Many of us were enlightened by that word. As we began to check our affairs, we found many things in our possession which did not belong to us. Many of us began to make restitution. Some found books that had been borrowed for many years and had never been returned. Eventually we all discovered that in many things we were not righteous. Some of us even returned large amounts of money to the government, and that became a strong testimony. This is not a legal matter, but if you would be willing to be right in everything with God and with others, then check item by item when you get home. I am afraid that you will find at least five items in which you will have to make restitution.
The principle is the same in Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go away; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Without restitution, our gift will not be acceptable to God. This is because God is righteous and just. We must be right with Him, and we must be right with others. He will not have His people to be unrighteous. However, again I say that this is not a legal matter. It is altogether a matter of His grace.
REST AND LIBERATION
When we become right with God and right with all others in a complete way, that will be a time of real rest, liberation, and enjoyment: “Hallelujah, I am right with God, and I am right with all people! What a liberation! What a rest! What a joy!” Do not think that this is a small thing. If we would realize that we are not only sinful but that we also are sin and apply Jesus both as our sin offering and trespass offering, and if we would also be made absolutely right with God and with all others, we would all be so living, so prevailing, and so released. It is a matter of getting ourselves absolutely right from within and from without. Leviticus 4, 5, and 6 are very practical for the daily walk of God’s people.
Praise the Lord that He is our sin offering, and He is also our trespass offering! We must always take Him as our sin offering, and we must continually apply Him as our trespass offering for our relationship to God and to man. When we are restored, we have the release, the joy, the rest, and the peace, because sin is dealt with, and we are right with God and all others. Such a people are so victorious. This is the church. The church is such a restored, restful, peaceful, and joyful people with sin dealt with by Jesus as the sin offering and with all their trespasses dealt with by Him as the trespass offering. Now we have nothing to trouble us from within or from without. The sin within has been dealt with by Christ as the sin offering, and all our iniquities, sins, and transgressions without have been dealt with by the Lord as our trespass offering. We are absolutely released. Hallelujah! There is no more entanglement of sin, and there is no guilt from any sins. We are so right in the presence of God and of man. This will be a strong testimony to the whole universe. May we continually apply Christ as both the sin offering and the trespass offering.
(Christ as the Reality, Chapter 21, by Witness Lee)