In the Old Testament there was no real relationship between a person’s sin and the animal that was sacrificed—it was only symbolic. The Old Testament believer’s faith was not to be in the death of an animal, but in God who would one day provide a sacrifice that would forever deal with sin. How, then, did Old Testament believers know that God would provide a future sacrifice for sins? Psalm 51:16–17 says, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt offering.” The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
David, the author of Psalm 51, is not saying that God didn’t want sacrifices anymore, because later in that same Psalm he says he’s going to offer one. Instead, he is saying that God wants a broken and a contrite heart from the sinner, not a sacrifice. David understood that an animal sacrifice could never truly deal with his sin, and in the context of Psalm 51, he specifically has in mind the sins of murder and adultery. What the Old Testament sacrifices didn’t accomplish and could not fulfill, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did.
If you’re a Christian, here’s what the Scriptures teach concerning what Jesus’ sacrifice accomplished for you: First, the cross has cleansed you. Jesus said “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you” (John 10:13). Acts 15:9 adds, “And He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.”
Second, Christ has removed your need for that constant sense of guilt. In other words, you no longer need to have a consciousness of, or a guilt for, sins that you have confessed and forsaken. Hebrews 10:2 says, “Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?”
If you have repented and believed in Christ, you have been cleansed from those sins. If you have turned from sin and confessed them, then there is no longer a consciousness of sins.
Third, Christ has provided you with a perfect standing before God the Father. According to Hebrews 10:1, Christ has perfected you. If you are a Christian, then today you stand before God as if you were as perfect as Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament sacrificial system millions of animals died, but not one time was the just anger of God against that person’s sin satisfied. However, in Christ, God’s anger against sin has been fully satisfied!