Does Sin Contaminate The Sanctuary? Part 1
September 26, 2008 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

Dr Jennings I started reading your article about Jesus’ death part two. I guessed very interesting because I had not seen this way, the problem of sin, but I have some questions what needing to be answering;

for example; when a person carried a lamb toward to sanctuary in the old testament and confessing his sins over head of animal by any chance these sins were not transmitted direct to the sanctuary? And John the Baptist had not said this is lamb of God who take away the sins of world? By any chance Jesus has not suffered only for the sins of righteous men? Another thing if Satan is the very guilty about our situation, why they [our church] teach who Jesus has paid the ransom to god? The Jesus’ death has been demanded for Satan or not has been god who demanded his death? I am sure God has not demanded the Jesus’ death at the cross, has been Satan the  guiltiest for the Jesus’ death at cross, of course I have helped Satan to put Jesus there because I have made mistakes. And about the sanctuary here on earth; there were two goats one for the lord another for Azazel, one represented Jesus another Satan, it is taught who the sins were transmitted of sanctuary toward the goat called Azazel, and we know the sanctuary is Jesus himself that carries the sins of world and after will cast them [the sins] over Satan the very guilty of each bad thing that happens in this world. tell more my friend Tim about this issue because I need know more details about it. please send me responses I ask you. I am hoping for your soon reply.

thank you, LT

Excellent questions and ones that have caused great confusion amongst Christianity throughout the centuries and continue to confuse today. Before we can understand the specifics of your questions we must understand the purpose of the old testament sanctuary system. The OT sanctuary system was a teaching tool, a symbolic representation acted out of God’s plan to save mankind from sin. It was a “mini-theater” with an elaborate stage, elegant costumes, intricate props in which the children of Israel were actors and God was the director. The system itself was only that, a lesson book, an illustration. It had no power to actually cleanse from sin or reconcile sinners to God but was to teach sinners of God’s plan to send His Son to accomplish for mankind what we could not accomplish for ourselves, namely redemption, recovery, healing from sin.

With that in mind, let’s look at your specific questions.  When a person confessed their sins on the head of the lamb the sinner would then cut the throat of the lamb and the priest would catch the blood and take it to various points in the system. The lamb of course is symbolic of Christ, the sinner confessing sins on the head represents the reality that sin is a way of thinking, an attitude, a principle that occurs in the mind. Confessing on the lamb indicates that Christ would come and take our place, our situation, our very condition upon Himself – “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” Isaiah 53:4. Some interpret the meaning to be He took our individual acts of sin upon Himself. As I pointed out in previous blogs this is not supported by the evidence nor is it reasonable. What is reasonable is that He took our condition of sinfulness upon Himself in order to cure, cleanse, heal and restore humanity back into harmony with God. Thus the act of the sinner confessing on the head of the lamb symbolizes sinners recognition that Jesus is our only means of healing, redemption and recovery from sin, because He took our very condition upon Himself and defeated Satan and the very basis of Satan’s government – selfishness.

Some Christians teach that the sins were transferred to the sanctuary itself, contaminating the sanctuary, requiring the sanctuary building to be cleansed on the annual Day of Atonement. They extrapolate from this that when we confess sins today they are recorded in the sanctuary in heaven (Hebrews 8:2-5), thus transferring our sin from us to the sanctuary and “contaminating” it, requiring the sanctuary in heaven to be cleansed.

There are major problems with this understanding.  First, I have never found any Biblical evidence anywhere that the blood of the sacrificial animal ever contaminated or defiled anything (and if someone does know of Biblical evidence to support such an idea please email me for I definitely will put it up). In fact, the Bible is very clear that anything the blood or meat of the sacrificial animal touched became holy, cleansed, purified – not defiled.

Think about it.  If the theory that sins confessed on the head of the animal contaminated the animal and its blood, thereby ”transferring“ sin into the sanctuary and “contaminating” it, then this explicitly teaches that when Jesus confronted sin that sin won, not Jesus. It teaches that the blood of Jesus does not cleanse but contaminates. This is false. Jesus blood represents His pure life that must be taken into the heart and mind of the believer. Jesus said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part with me.” This was not an endorsemnent of cannibalism, but teaches the truth that the blood of Jesus represents His perfect victorious life over sin, of which we can partake of (partakers of the divine nature 2Pet 1:4).  We are thus  reconciled back to God! The idea that sins are transferred to the sanctuary by the blood of the sacrificial animal, thus contaminating the sanctuary, does not appear to have Biblical support.

John the Baptist’s statement is in keeping with this understanding.  Christ came to take away the sinfulness of the world, the rebellion, the selfishness, the hostility the world has toward God and to reconcile or atone mankind back to God. Christ did not come to undo history and take away the record of sins, but to actually cure, overcome, and remedy sinfulness in His human walk on earth!

Jesus’ suffering was the only means of procuring the remedy for sin and is freely available to all humanity – wicked and righteous alike via the action of Holy Spirit in receptive hearts. In fact, all righteous were at one time wicked until they partook of the remedy offered by Jesus.

Thank you for your excellent questions and we will explore more of them in next week’s blog. If you have questions you would like to see discussed please email us at topics /at/ comeandreason /dot/ com.

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.