Righteousness by Faith
Cleansing of the Sanctuary
By Robert J. Wieland
I. WHY GOD GAVE ISRAEL THE SANCTUARY
- That the Lord Himself might dwell among them. Ex. 25:8.
- Earthly sanctuary a copy of the heavenly. Ex. 25:9, 30.
- Earthly sanctuary a “shadow” of “true” heavenly one. Heb. 8:1-5.
- Two apartments (or “tents”) in earthly sanctuary. Heb. 9:1-3.
- Two apartments also in heavenly sanctuary. Heb. 9:24.
- Seven golden candlesticks in first apartment of earthly sanctuary. Ex. 25:37; Heb. 9:2.
- Seven golden candlesticks in heavenly first apartment. Rev. 4:5.
- Golden altar of incense in first apartment of earthly sanctuary. Ex. 30:1-6.
- Golden altar of incense in first apartment of heavenly sanctuary. Rev. 8:1-4.
- Incense offered on earthly golden altar. Ex. 30:7, 8.
- Incense offered on heavenly golden altar. Rev. 8:3, 4.
- Incense burned in censer in earthly sanctuary. Lev. 16:12, 13.
- Incense burned in censer in heavenly sanctuary. Rev. 8:5.
- Holy bread set on table in first apartment. Ex. 40:22, 23.
- Christ is the “bread of life.” John 6:51.
- Ark and mercy seat in second apartment of earthly sanctuary. Ex. 25:10-22.
- Ark of the covenant seen in second apartment of heavenly. Rev. 11:19.
- Ten commandment law in the ark. Deut. 10:1-5; Ex. 25:16.
- Law of God is the “testimony.” Ex. 25:16; 31:18.
- John saw “the ark of His testament” in heavenly sanctuary. Rev. 11:19.
- Priests were taken from among the people. Heb. 7:28; 5:1.
- Heavenly High Priest taken from among people. Heb. 4:14; 2:16-18.
- Priests did not appoint themselves. Heb. 5:4.
- Heavenly High Priest appointed by Father. Heb. 5:5, 6.
II. WHAT HIGH PRIEST DOES IN FIRST APARTMENT
- Holy Spirit brought conviction of sin to sinner. Lev. 4:14, 23, 28; John 16:8.
- Sinner confessed sin, laying his hand on head of sin offering. Lev. 4:4, 15, 24, 29, 33.
- Sinner then killed the innocent victim. Lev. 4:4, 24, 29, 33.
- Priest bore the sin into sanctuary. Lev. 10:16-18. (This was done either by priest eating
some of the flesh of the sin offering or by bringing the blood into the sanctuary. Lev.
- When sin had thus been brought into sanctuary, sinner was forgiven. Lev. 4:20, 26, 31,
- Without shedding of blood, no forgiveness could be possible. Heb. 9:22.
- Christ’s blood shed for remission of sins. Matt. 26:28.
- Christ is true or antitypical Lamb of God. John 1:29.
- As earthly priest bore sin in his own body typically, so Christ bore our sins in His own
body antitypically. 1 Peter 2:24.
- Christ offers His own blood in heavenly sanctuary. Heb. 8:3; 9:12-14.
- Ministry in first apartment accomplished forgiveness of sins in type, but did not
accomplish blotting out of sin. Heb. 9:6, 7, 9.
- First apartment ministry continued daily throughout the year. Heb. 9:6.
III. WHAT HIGH PRIEST DOES IN SECOND APARTMENT
- Second apartment service only once a year. Heb. 9:7.
- Day of atonement, tenth day of seventh month. Lev. 16:2, 29, 30.
- Two goats chosen by lot represent Christ and Satan. Lev. 16:7, 8.
- Lord’s goat killed, blood offered for atonement. Lev. 16:9, 15-19.
- Purpose of Day of Atonement ministry, blotting out of sin. Lev. 16:30.
- High Priest entered Most Holy Apartment. Lev. 16:2, 3, 13-15.
- His last work, cleansing altar of incense. Lev. 16:18, 19. (This teaches that forgiveness of
sin still available until last moment when High Priest leaves before seven last plagues
- Priest makes an end of reconciling as He leaves sanctuary. Lev. 16:20. (Hebrew word kalah here connotes a “final atonement.”)
Did David sense this significance? Psalm 7:16.
Live goat sent into the wilderness, never to return. Lev. 16:22.
Satan, the antitypical scapegoat, banished to this earth and will perish. Rev. 20:1-3; 10,
Heavenly Day of Atonement demonstrates that Satan, not God, responsible for sin.
God cleared of blame; entire universe reconciled in final atonement. Rev. 15:3, 4; 5:13.
Typical Day of Atonement was day of judgment for Israel. Lev. 23:27-30.
Heavenly, antitypical Day of Atonement a Day of Judgment for all. Rev. 14:6, 7; 22:11, 12. (Every case decided for eternity before Christ returns second time.)
Heavenly Day of Atonement accomplishes final blotting out of sin. Acts 3:19-21.
Forgiven sinner can cancel his own forgiveness, by impenitence. Matt. 18:23-35; 12:43-45.
Theme of Book of Hebrews is blotting out of sin, not merely forgiveness of sins. This is called “made perfect.” Heb. 6:1; 7:25, 28; 9:9, 14; 10:1, 14; 11:40; 12:23; 13:20, 21.
Christ the demonstration of character perfection God desires to see in us. Heb. 2:9-18;
3:1; 4:14, 15; 5:7-9.
Christ’s sacrifice on cross provided complete atonement. Heb. 9:11-14.
God’s people as a body have never fully appreciated His atonement sacrifice or
High Priestly ministry; therefore the atonement provided has never been applied fully
and effectively. Heb. 9:23-28; 11:39, 40.
Purpose of Christ’s ministry on Day of Atonement: to blot out sins. Lev. 16:30; Acts
- Then lays all confessed and forgiven sins upon head of live goat, signifying that Satan must bear ultimate responsibility. (This is not an atonement.) Lev. 16:21.
Results in people who truly keep commandments. Rev. 14:12.
Next event is second coming of Christ. Verse 14.
Agape-love is true keeping of commandments. Rom. 13:10.
- This is same as sealing work. Rev. 7:1-4; 14:1-5.
IV. RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH IN LAST DAYS AND THE CLEANSING OF THE HEAVENLY SANCTUARY
- Those who truly keep commandments in Day of Atonement do so by faith of Jesus. Rev.
- Agape-love produces obedience to the law by faith. Gal. 5:6; Rom. 13:10.
- We are to “consider” Christ our High Priest as having taken our sinful nature yet not
sinning. Heb. 2:9-18 and 3:1, 2 (these two chapters belong together).
- Christ’s work as High Priest bound up with His having taken our sinful nature “yet
without sin.” Heb. 4:14-16.
- Practical fruit of Christ’s High Priestly ministry on Day of Atonement: to prepare a
people to demonstrate in our sinful flesh “the righteousness of the law,” even as He did
“in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Rom. 8:3, 4.
- Is not only possible, but certain, that Christ’s people will overcome “even as” He
overcame. Rev. 3:20, 21.
- Those who so overcome will be His Bride. Rev. 19:7-9.
- True justification by faith makes the believer obedient to the law of God. Rom. 3:23-31.
- “Curse of the law” is not obedience but disobedience. Gal. 3:10.
- In justification by faith, Christ redeems us from disobedience to the law. Gal 2:16-18;
- “The works of the law” not pure obedience, but man’s self-centered efforts to obey for
a selfish motive, seeking reward or fearing hell. Such “works” are of unbelief. Heb. 4:10,
11; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 9:31-33.
- Our “own righteousness” is selfish and proud, under the curse, is therefore actual
disobedience to the law; “God’s righteousness” is by faith in cross of Christ,
- destroys pride, changes the heart, and is therefore true obedience to the law. Rom.
10:20, 21; 3:27, 28, 31; Gal. 3:10, 12-14.
- “Under the law” means under self-centered motivation that ministers to pride,
hardheartedness, self-sufficiency—is exact opposite of faith, and is the same as being
“under sin.” Gal. 3:22-26.
- In Greek, to have faith and to believe is same word. New Testament faith defined as a
heart-appreciation of the agape-love of Christ revealed at the cross. John 3:16; Rom.
10:10; Gal. 5:6. (Try this definition of faith as you read Romans and Galatians, and the
truth will come alive for you.)
- Those who truly believe will glory in nothing but cross of Christ. Gal. 6:14; Phil. 3:7-10.
- True gospel is justification by faith; a “perverted” gospel is a counterfeit. Gal. 1:6-11;
- Three angels’ messages are genuine justification by faith in the judgment hour setting;
warn against counterfeit. Rev. 14:6-12.
- These messages given in the time when “the mystery of God should be finished,”
“which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Rev. 10:7; Col. 1:27.
- The “seventh angel” heralds Day of Atonement ministry. Rev. 11:15-19.
V. WHEN DOES THE HEAVENLY DAY OF ATONEMENT BEGIN?
- At end the of the 2300 days, or years. Dan. 8:14 (Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6).
- Daniel was wise enough to know that earthly sanctuary was a shadow of heavenly. Ex.
25:9; Psalm 51:16, 17.
- 2300 years and 70 “weeks” begin together. Dan. 8:26, 27; 9:22-25. (457 B.C. See Ezra.
- The 69 “weeks” (483 years) bring us to anointing of Christ at His baptism. Dan. 9:25;
Acts 4:27; 10:38; John 1:29 (27 A.D.).
- In the midst of 70th “week” Christ crucified. Dan. 9:26, 27. (31 A.D.). End of the 70
“weeks,” or 490 years, was close of Jews’ probation as people or nation of God. When
they stoned Stephen, gospel went to Gentiles. Acts 7:59; 13:46 (34 A.D.).
- Remaining 1810 years (2300 less 490) bring us to 1844 A.D. Cleansing of sanctuary and
Day of Atonement same. Lev. 16:29, 30; 23:27.
- Just before second coming of Christ, “everlasting gospel” of justification by faith goes to
all world. This message performs a work of judgment as some accept and some reject.
Rev. 14:6, 7, 14; 22:11, 12.
- Although antitypical Day of Atonement began in 1844, it will not be completed until the
end of the thousand years of Revelation 20. But the High Priestly ministry of Christ will
end with the close of probation when His people are sealed. Rev. 7:1-4; 14:1-7; 15:1-8.
VI. OUR DUTY ON HEAVENLY DAY OF ATONEMENT
- The Israelites left ordinary labors on annual Day of Atonement, fasted, gathered around
sanctuary, afflicted their souls. Lev. 16:19-31; 23:27-31.
- Afflicting soul means to “abase self” (Isa. 31:4); “humble one’s soul” (Psalm 35:13);
“chasten thyself” (Dan. 10:12).
- This experience included health reform and simplicity of diet. Dan. 10:2, 3. (Vegetarian
diet; elimination of excessive sugar, no alcohol, that the mind might be clear.) These
duties on the Day of Atonement are not “works” by which to earn salvation, but give
evidence of cooperation with High Priest in His work. Day of Atonement only day on
which God commanded fasting. (Compare Acts 27:9; Isa. 58:3-5; Eze. 8:21.)
- Dress reform, using simple clothing, accompanied “affliction of soul.” Psalm 69:10; 1
Kings 21:27; Joel 1:13; Jonah 3:5; Judges 20:6; 1 Sam. 7:6; Neh. 1:4.
- In times of spiritual emergency, God’s people did not wear jewelry. Isa. 3:16.24; Ex.
33:4-6. (The Day of Atonement is therefore the real reason why Seventh-day Adventists
adopt a health reform diet, do not use tobacco, drugs, or alcohol, nor wear jewelry or
seek worldly greatness or wealth.)
Note: Israel were permitted to wear jewelry, eat flesh, and some even drank moderately throughout
the year, BUT NEVER ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT. Although Christian people through the centuries
have used these things, those who cooperate with Christ in His closing work of atonement in
preparation for His soon coming will gladly lay them aside. Repentant Israel came close together in
repentance, in unity and harmony of fellowship, on Day of Atonement. So today God’s people are to
come close together in unity for the finishing of His work. Lev. 23:27; Eph. 4:11-16.
VII. ROOTS OF SIN CAN NEVER BE CLEANSED FROM HUMAN HEARTS UNTIL SPRINGS OF MOTIVATION
- Principle of self-centered motivation is Satan’s unique invention. Isa. 14:12-14. (The
highest form of self-seeking motivation is desire for reward in heaven, or immortality.
All non- Christian religions built upon this foundation.)
- Christ came to demonstrate a new motivation—agape-love, which is completely self-emptying, “even the death of the cross.” The same “mind” is to be in us. Phil. 2:5-8.
- Genuine New Testament faith is a heart-appreciation of this heavenly, unworldly
motivation of agape-love. Eph. 3:14-19; John 3:16.
- Paul goes on to explain that failure to appreciate this new kind of motivation leaves us
immature “children.” Eph. 4:11-14.
- A true Bride is no longer a child, nor does she marry for money or for any self-seeking
motivation. Marries because she appreciates her husband, responds genuinely to his
love. Paul sees the Church as Bride of Christ. Eph. 5:22-32. (Compare Rev. 19:5-9.
Babylon is “the great whore” whose spiritual motivation is purely self-centered, and
knows no appreciation of agape-love. Doctrine of natural immortality nullifies true
- Genuine righteousness by faith in time of cleansing of sanctuary is a “truth in love
[agape]” that makes it possible for people to “grow up into … Christ” as a true Bride
relates to her husband (“head”). Eph. 4:13- 6; 5:22, 23; 2:4-9; 3:8-12.
- A concern for honor and glory of Christ, rather than for their own personal security,
motivates God’s people in the “hour of God’s judgment” or vindication. To “fear” Him is
to reverence or appreciate His true character of love. Rev. 14:6, 7.
- Moses and Paul are examples of individuals who grew up to appreciate true agape love,
the self-emptying motivation. Ex. 32:31, 32; Rom. 9:1-3.
- When a people or church grow up to appreciate the same motivation of concern for
God’s “glory,” the “harvest” will be “ripe” and Christ can come immediately. Mark 4:26-29; Rev. 14:14, 15.
- Laodicea does not realize that her basic spiritual motivation is self-centered, childish,
poverty-stricken, shameful. Rev. 3:14-17.
- In His being sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh” Christ was tempted to surrender to
same self-centered motivation, yet He “overcame.” Laodicea too will “overcome.” John
5:30; 6:38; Heb. 4:15; Rev. 3:21.
WHY THIS SUBJECT IS SO IMPORTANT
The cleansing of the sanctuary in relation to justification by faith can hardly be overemphasized. The
1888 message made the cleansing of the sanctuary to be a practical subject. This is how the two great
rivers, the sanctuary truth and justification by faith, joined together. The message not only called for
holy living; it also provided the means. The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is a work that includes
the people and extends to them. It provides for the perfection of their character in Christ on the one
hand; and on the other hand in the final destruction of sin and sinners and the cleansing of the universe
from all taint of sin. This is the “finishing of the mystery of God.” It is Christ fully formed in each
believer. The sanctuary itself cannot be cleansed so long as God’s people continue to pour into it a
constant stream of sinning. The stream will be stopped at its source in the hearts and lives of God’s
people. The ministry of Christ in the Most Holy Apartment does make “the comers thereunto perfect”
and does perfect “forever them that are sanctified.”
“For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the [heavenly]
sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent sinners, secured their pardon and
acceptance with the Father; yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical
service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the
redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the
sanctuary. … “As the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by
which [the earthly sanctuary] had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be
accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded.” The Great
Controversy, pp. 421, 422.
“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above
are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their
characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. … While the sins of penitent believers
are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of
sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation
14." Ibid., p. 425.
True forgiveness that is not rejected by the forgiven sinner is continued by a further experience of
repentance. Thus the High Priest is able to blot out the sins that have been forgiven. “Forgiveness has a
broader meaning than many suppose. … God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets
us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of
redeeming love that transforms the heart.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 114.
This does not mean the “eradication of the sinful nature.” It is not the heresy of “perfectionism.”
“Perfectionism” is the false doctrine of the eradication of man’s sinful nature at any time before the
glorification at the coming of Christ. Christ “took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature” (Medical
Ministry, p. 181), yet was “without sin.” So those who are sealed will still have a sinful nature, yet will
“not retain one sinful propensity” (The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 943). “Perfectionism” is also
the false doctrine that it is impossible for anyone, including Christ, to overcome sin so long as he has
man’s sinful nature.
There is a difference in principle between the forgiveness of sin in the daily service of the sanctuary and
the blotting out of sin in the Day of Atonement. Rain is rain, whether it falls in the early or latter season.
Both the forgiveness and the blotting out of sin are by the blood of Jesus spilled at Calvary.
But the typical service of the sanctuary clearly taught that forgiveness can be rejected by the forgiven
sinner and the sin then reactivated in the life. And sin may lie much deeper than we have known, so
that temptations of greater intensity can cause us to fall. An example is the mark of the beast. There
must therefore come at last a “sealing,” from which there will never be a turning away. This is the same
as the blotting out of sins, or a final preparation for the coming of Jesus. No child of God will ever claim
such a sealing or blotting out. The closer he comes to Christ the more unworthy he will feel himself to
be. But nonetheless, the great High Priest will accomplish the work He sets out to do for all who do not
resist Him in His office work.
“There is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins. There is a difference
between the gospel being preached for the forgiveness of sins and the gospel being preached for the
blotting out of sin. Always, and today, there is abundant provision for the forgiveness of sins. In our
generation comes the provision for the blotting out of sin. And the blotting out of sin is what will
prepare the way for the coming of the Lord; and the blotting out of sin is the ministry of our High Priest
in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary; and it makes a difference to the people of God today
in their ministry, in their message, and in their experience, whether they recognize … or experience the
fact of the change. … That should be distinctly brought out in the third angel’s message; and with that,
of course, will come the clearest revelation of the gospel ministry for this time, … thus preparing the
way of the Lord.” General Conference Bulletin, 1903, pp. 53, 54.
A counterfeit “holy spirit” that will deceive multitudes. The mark of the beast will not be a crude,
obvious deception. It will include counterfeit justification by faith. Preparation for the coming of Christ
must include, therefore, learning to know Him so intimately that deception will be discerned and
rejected. This suggests the intimacy of marriage and love that makes such a relationship possible.
The blessed fruits of the cleansing of the sanctuary include freedom from the oppressive fear and
slavery of devotion to self- entered motivation. This is what produces lukewarmness. This paralyzes the
world church in her time of greatest opportunity. “It is not fear of punishment, or the hope of
everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless
love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on the earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s
cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the
beholders. They hear His voice and follow Him.” The Desire of Ages, p. 480.
Never can God’s people equal the Pattern. Christ’s act of righteousness [which led] to acquittal and life
for all men is beyond duplication for all eternity (see Rom. 5:18). But God’s redeemed will learn to
appreciate it. A community of ransomed sinners will stand by the side of Christ with the kind of
appreciation and love that a Bride feels for her husband. This is the eschatological sense of “perfection.”
The sinner is made obedient and is reconciled fully.
A worthless scrap of broken mirror can be cleaned and polished to reflect the brightness of the sun. In
fact, it can dazzle one’s eyes. But it would be ridiculous to think of it as being equivalent to the sun! The
Bride of Christ is said to be “bright as the sun,” and thus “dazzling.” (See Song of Solomon 6:10,
Septuagint translation.) But it is always only reflected light, its origin in Christ. One hundred and forty
four thousand scraps of worthless broken mirror can be polished until each reflects a unique facet of
Christ’s beautiful character. They will be one precious gem in which “He shall see the fruit of the travail
of His soul, and [shall] be satisfied” (Isa. 53:11).
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible constitutes one thrilling love story, with the tragic plot developing
in the first three chapters, and the grand climax of resolution coming in the last four chapters. The
victory was won in Christ’s incarnation, and all that His people have to do is to have faith in that
tremendous accomplishment of their Lord.
True “Christian perfection” is the development of that faith to the place where the “child” grows up to
become the Bride of Christ. “Some few of every generation” have overcome by conquering self and
reflecting a facet of Christ’s character (Review and Herald, March 3, 1874). Enoch and Elijah are
examples. But those “few” never met the full force of temptation as God’s people must meet it in the
last days. In a special sense they will “drink of the cup” that Christ drank of and “be baptized with the
baptism” He was baptized with (Matt. 20:20-23).
Has God withheld His grace so that no former generation should be “ready” for the marriage of the
Lamb? No more than it could be said that something is “withheld” from a child that she should not be
“ready” to be a bride. The ministry of the High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary is to accomplish for
God’s people what has never been accomplished through all the thousands of years of history. The High
Priest “will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, that they present right offerings
to the Lord” (Mal. 3:2, 3, RSV). These will be offerings free from self-centered concern which is the
foundation of sin. A true Bride marries her husband because she loves him, not because she wants his
This glorious work will be the final demonstration of genuine justification by faith. It will be a work full
and complete, based entirely on the merits of Christ.
[Copyright © 2011 by Robert J. Wieland.]