Sermon #43                                                Leviticus Sermons


     Title:       Perfect, Yet Vile

     Text:       Leviticus 22:21

     Subject:  The Believer’s Perfect Standing and Corrupt Existence

     Date:       Sunday Morning—September 29, 2002

     Tape #    X-23a

     Reading: Psalm 73



I want us to return to Leviticus 22:21 this morning. Two weeks ago I tried to set before you the blessed, glorious fact that all who are in Christ are “perfect in Christ,” expounding to the best of my ability the words of our Lord in this passage—“It shall be perfect to be accepted.

God cannot and will not accept anything less than what He is which is absolute perfection. He says, "It shall be perfect to be accepted." In order to get to heaven we must be as good as God, perfect in all things-perfect in heart, perfect in thought, perfect in works, perfectly holy!

Is there, therefore, no hope? Must we all perish forever? No! Blessed be the Lord, our God! In Christ He has found a way to be both just and Justifier.—He has found a way to make fallen, sinful people like us perfect, perfectly holy and perfectly accepted.

This perfection is not of us, in us, nor through us, nor the result of anything we do or have done. It is entirely the work of God's free grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins were imputed to Christ; and the penalty against sin was paid in full by the doing, suffering, and dying of our Lord Jesus Christ as the sinner's substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21). God has taken Christ's perfect righteousness and imputed it to us, making us to be the very righteousness of God in Him (Romans 4:6).


Today, I want us to look at this text again. I want us to get all the sweet milk it contains.


(Leviticus 22:21)  "And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein."


·        God requires that the priest who offers a sacrifice be perfect (v. 3). Christ is that Priest.


(Leviticus 22:3)  "Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD."


·        God requires that the sacrifice be perfect, too (vv. 20-21). Christ is that Sacrifice.


(Leviticus 22:20-21)  "But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. (21) And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein."


We have in Christ both a perfect Priest and a perfect Sacrifice. So perfect and infinitely meritorious is our great High Priest and Sacrifice that he makes even our imperfect gifts and sacrifices perfect and acceptable to our God (v. 23; 1 Pet. 2:5).


(Leviticus 22:23)  "Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted."


·        In verse 25 the Lord demanded that no sacrifice be offered upon his altar that was taken from a stranger’s hand. That is to say, God will not accept the sacrifices of any unbeliever, of any apart from Christ, “because their corruption (The sinner’s, not the animal’s!) is in them.” In God’s eyes even the plowing of the wicked is sin (Pro. 21:4).


Christ is everywhere in this chapter. I cannot begin to expound these verses fully; and that is not my purpose this morning; but I don’t want you to miss the sweetness I have found.


Verse 24 speaks of the sacrifice being one that was not bruised, crushed, broken, or cut (castrated), because Christ our Surety was a man, fully man, in all things, sin alone excepted. There was no weakness or unmanliness in him.


Now, look at verse 28. Here is something gloriously precious.


(Leviticus 22:28)  "And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day."


Many suggest that this was meant to discourage cruelty. I do not doubt that it had that effect. But the typical reason for this law is far more precious than that!


God the Father was to give up His Son; and the Son was to be as it were torn from the Father’s care by the hands of wicked men. How could this be represented if both the ewe and her young were offered together?


It is written, and must never be forgotten, “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son.” The bleating of the tender lamb in its parent’s ears, as it was taken from the fold, filling the air with the sad, mournful sound, represented the bleating of “the Lamb of God led to the slaughter,” who so sadly, mournfully wailed, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani! My God! My God, why hast thou forsaken me?


Remember, these laws applied to domestic, household things, arrangements about what they were to carry out of their houses and herds for the altar. Thus a picture was hung up in every house in Israel of this grand, gospel truth, “God spared not his Son, but delivered him up to us all.”


Okay. Let’s go back to verse 21. I had a good bit of difficulty deciding what title to give to this message. I thought all week I would call it “The Other Side of Perfection.” But I decided to title the message Perfect, Yet Vile. You will see why, I am sure.


(Leviticus 22:21)  "And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein."


I. A Perfect Priest and A Perfect Sacrifice


we have a both perfect priest and a perfect sacrifice, in the Person of our blessed, all-glorious Lord Jesus Christ. He, having “offered himself without spot to God,” passed into the heavens, as our great High Priest, “having obtained eternal redemption for us.” There He ever liveth to make intercession for us. The Book of Hebrews deals with these two points in great detail. It throws into vivid contrast the sacrifice and priesthood of the Mosaic system and the Sacrifice and Priesthood of Christ, showing how Christ fulfilled both types.


In Christ we have divine perfection, whether as the Victim or as the Priest. We have all that God could require, and all that man could need.

·        His precious blood has put away all our sins.

·        His all-prevailing intercession ever maintains us in all the perfection of that place into which His blood has brought us.


II. A Paradox


The believer is a great paradox. “The world knoweth us not because it knew him not.” Paul said, with regard to God’s people, “He that is spiritual judgeth (discerns) all things, yet he himself is judged (discerned) of no man” (1 Cor. 2:15).

·        We are the happiest mourning people in the world.

·        We are the fullest most empty people on earth.

·        We are the most exalted abased people in existence.

·        And we are both perfectly holy and utterly sinful.


We are perfect in Christ, “complete in him” (Col. 2:10). Yet, in ourselves we are so utterly feeble and so faltering, so full of failure and infirmity, so sinful and prone to evil, that we could not stand for a moment, were it not for the fact that “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”


Our Warfare


These two things are constantly set before us and must be constantly remembered by us (Rom. 7:14-23; Gal. 5:19-23). The believer is a person constantly at war with himself, a person who must, as long as he is in this body of flesh, endure an internal warfare between the flesh and the Spirit that cannot be understood except as it is experienced and cannot be understood until these two things are clearly established.


·        In Christ, by his blood and righteousness, we are before God altogether without sin and perfect, complete, and fully worthy of God’s acceptance, “holy, unblameable and unreproveable” in his sight, without one spot of sin or wrinkle of infirmity.


(Numbers 23:21)  "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them."


(Colossians 1:12)  "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:"


(Colossians 2:9-10)  "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"


(1 Peter 4:1)  "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;"


(1 John 3:5)  "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."


(1 John 4:16-17)  "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."


·        But in ourselves we are just the opposite, we are utterly vile.


With Job we cry, “Behold, I am vile…I abhor myself!” With David we look upon the evil that is within us and declare, “I was as a beast before thee!” Though I am perfect in Christ, forgiven and accepted in the Beloved, I am constantly a sinner in need of forgiveness in myself. This is the warfare that Paul describes in Romans 7.


(Romans 7:14-25)  "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."


(Romans 8:1-10)  "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."


If we have anything like correct apprehensions of the grand foundation truths of Christianity, and any measure of experience in the life of faith, we see clearly that, though “complete in him who is the head of all principality and power,” we are yet in constant need of the powerful advocacy of our adorable, all-glorious Christ as our great High Priest in heaven. We no longer live in the flesh but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:9).


Yet, so long as we exist in this body of flesh, for as long as we are down here amid the infirmities, conflicts, and buffetings of earth, we must have Christ to intercede as our unfailing, effectual Advocate at the Father’s right hand in heaven.


(1 John 2:1-2)  "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."


The believer is “washed, sanctified, and justified” in Christ (1 Cor. 6). He is “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1. 6). He can never come into judgment or condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Death and judgment are behind us, because we are united to Christ who has passed through judgment and death on our behalf and in our stead, as our Substitute.


All these things are divinely true of the very weakest, most unlettered, and inexperienced member of the family of God. If, at this very moment you come to Christ, if at this moment you begin to trust him, all these are true of you, as true of you as they are of the most aged and well-established saint on earth. Christ has made you perfect before God, for he “hath perfected forever them that are sanctified!”


Yet, because as we carry about with us a nature so incorrigibly bad, and so irremediably ruined, that no discipline can correct it, and no medicine cure it—because we live here in a body of sin and death—because we are surrounded on all sides by hostile influences—because we are perpetually at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil—we could never keep our ground, much less make progress, were we not upheld by the all-prevailing intercession of Christ, our great High Priest, who bears the names of His people upon His breast and upon His shoulder.


I realize that many, because of poor instruction in the things of God and because of the constant influence of religion, have great difficulty in reconciling the fact that every believer both is perfect in his standing before God in Christ and in constant need of Christ as his Advocate and Great High Priest. We mournfully sing with Newton…


          “I would disclose my whole complaint,

          But where shall I begin?

          No words of mine can fully paint

          That worst distemper, sin.


          It lies not in a single part,

          But through my frame is spread:

          A burning fever in my heart,

          A palsy in my head!”


And, without pausing, we sing with triumphant glee…


          “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

          My beauty are, my glorious dress:

          Midst flaming worlds, with these arrayed,

          With joy shall I lift up my head!


          When from the dust of death I rise,

          To take my mansion in the skies,

          Even then shall this be all my plea—

          ‘Jesus hath lived and died for me!’


          Bold shall I stand in that great day,

          For who aught to my charge shall lay,

          While through Thy blood absolved I am

          From sin’s tremendous curse and shame?


          This spotless robe the same appears

          When ruined nature sinks in years:

          No age can change its glorious hue—

          The robe of Christ is ever new!”



          “Shout, believer, to thy God,

          He hath once the winepress trod:

          Peace procured by blood divine,

          Cancelled all thy sins and mine!


          In thy Surety thou art free,

          His dear hands were pierced for thee;

          With His spotless vesture on,

          Holy as the Holy One!


          Oh the heights and depths of grace,

          Shining with meridian blaze!

          Here the sacred records show

          Sinners black, but comely too.”


III. Revelation and Experience


These two things are as distinctly taught in the Word of God as they are constantly experienced by us:—In Christ we are absolutely perfect before God. In ourselves we are utterly corrupt. Those two things may appear to incompatible one with another in the minds of men, but man’s ignorance has nothing to do with God’s revelation. Every believer is perfect in Christ; but, in himself, he is a poor feeble creature, ever liable to fall.


Christ is an all-sufficient Savior and High Priest. This is our inexpressible blessedness!

·        We have an Advocate and King in heaven who is able to manage all our affairs for us, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

·        We have One who upholds us continually by the right hand of His righteousness.

·        We have One who will never let us go.

·        We have One who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him.

·        We have One who is “the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

·        We have One who will carry us triumphantly through all the difficulties and dangers which surround us; and, finally, “present (us) faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”


Blessed forever be the grace that has made such ample provision for all our need in the blood of a Perfect Sacrifice and the intercession of a perfect High Priest!


IV. Our Response


How do you respond to this great good news? How do I respond to such matchless grace? I can tell you how we ought to respond to it. Whatsoever we do, in word or in deed, we ought to do all to the glory of God. Let us strive to “keep (ourselves) unspotted from the world” and honor our God in all things. Let us “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10), doing “those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).


We have “boldness to enter into the holiest, through the blood of Jesus”—“We have a great High Priest over the house of God” (Heb. 10). We are “accepted in the beloved..” Nothing can ever rob us of these privileges. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). Let us take care that we “grieve not the Holy Spirit of God” by whom we are sealed (Eph. 4:30.


Those ceremonial matters against which the sons of Aaron were warned, in Leviticus, have their antitypes in a very practical way in our lives.—Were they warned to avoid things unclean? So are we.—Were they warned to avoid alliances with the ungodly? So are we.—Were they warned to keep themselves from all ceremonial uncleanness? So are we.—Were they warned not to profane God’s holy name? So are we.


V. Practical Importance


Perhaps you are thinking, “Bro. Don, Why press this matter so hard? Why is it so important for us to constantly be reminded that we are perfect in Christ and yet vile in ourselves?” Let me try to show you the practical importance of this message.


A.     In the light of these facts, our perfection in Christ and our utter vileness in ourselves, we are compelled to look out of ourselves to Christ alone.


·        Our acceptance id in Christ.

·        Our assurance is in Christ.


B.     Knowing our own corruption, being forced to face what we are in ourselves by nature, we ought to be kind, patient, and long suffering with one another.


C.     Being ourselves in constant need of forgiveness, we ought to be gracious and forgiving toward each other.


D.     Being the constant recipients of grace, the constant recipients of mercy, the constant recipients of God’s free salvation in Christ, we have good news for poor sinners like ourselves.—“With the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. O Lord, there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared” (Ps. 130).


When we are made to see clearly and know experimentally what God has done for us by his matchless, free grace in Christ, we are constrained by love and graceto present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12: 1), offering “the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13: 15). As members of the “spiritual house” and the “holy priesthood,” we are compelled by mercy to “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 5). To some small degree, we are able, in the light of these things, to anticipate that blissful time when, from a redeemed “holy nation and royal priesthood,” the hallelujahs of intelligent and fervent praise shall ascend to the throne of God and the Lamb throughout the everlasting ages.


(Revelation 5:9-14)  "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; (12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (13) And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."