When taught as a unit, Seventh-day Adventists indirectly teach that Christ is the Anti-Christ little horn of Daniel 8:9-14 who defiled the sanctuary by transferring sin into it. See page one and chapter 4.


By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

June 19, 2008

The Great Controversy, page 421: “As anciently the SINS of the people were placed by faith upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the SINS of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, IN FACT, to the heavenly sanctuary.”


There were no serious premeditated (willful, deliberate, high-handed) sins brought to the sanctuary for atonement. Serious premeditated sins were punished, or disciplined, by the judges and not by the sacrificial system.

The only kinds of sins which were brought to the sanctuary for atonement were (1) sins of ignorance: committed either inadvertently or accidentally, (2) sins of omission where one failed to do what was right, (3) sins of obligation where one was forced into defilement such as touching a dead relative or mold in a house, (4) leprosy, (5) jealously over suspected marital infidelity, (6) theft requiring restitution and (7) other minor trespasses against God’s standards of holiness. See Leviticus, chapters, 4-6, 11, 13-15, 19 and Numbers 5 and 15.

These two biblical facts destroy the entire SDA doctrine of sin transfer because (at least in the Old Testament) deliberate high-handed willful sins were never confessed over sacrificial animals and, therefore, were never brought by the priests into the sanctuary (as SDAs claim) to “defile” it. Our practice of confessing and receiving forgiveness of all sins does not follow the Old Covenant sanctuary pattern.

Therefore, when Seventh-day Adventists include the many confessed and forgiven deliberate sins among those which (they say) defile the most holy place during the daily ministration of the sanctuary service (Old and New Covenant), they blatantly misrepresent the nature of the sins involved.


Pre-meditated (high-handed, intentional, deliberate, willful) sins could not be atoned by daily personal sacrifices. Admittedly this is a new concept for both SDAs and non-SDAs but it has radical implications for the SDA sanctuary doctrine.

Numb. 15:30 But the person that does anything presumptuously [defiantly] … the same reproaches the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.

Numb. 15:31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken his commandment, that person shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

When a person committed most pre-meditated sins, there was no prescribed sacrifice to bring. No appeasement could be made to God. That person must suffer the disciplinary consequences and responsibility of his/her sin. He/she was totally at the mercy of God, the judges, the accusers and those whom he/she had sinned against.

When a serious presumptuous sin had been committed, death (cutting off) or equal dismemberment (literal cutting off) was often the penalty of the judges –not the priests. The judges declared a “life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” (Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deu 19:21). And –this is extremely important– no sacrifice was acceptable! Death –not a sacrifice– was the punishment for witchcraft (Ex 22:18), idolatry (Ex. 22:20; Lev 20:2-3), a priest who was not clean before sacrificing (Ex 30:21; Lev 22:3), working on the Sabbath (Ex 31:14), eating the peace offering after the third day (Lev 7:21), eating the fat of an offering (Lev 7:25), eating blood (Lev 7:26-27), offering strange fire (Lev 10), approaching the altar while being unsanctified (Lev 10:3), adultery and many sexual sins (Lev 18; 20:10-15, 18, not punishing idol worshippers (Lev 20:4-5), cursing parents (Lev 20:9) and blasphemy of God’s name (Lev. 24:16).

The judicial punishment of presumptuous sins also explains why God did not command a sacrifice when Aaron allowed the golden calves to be made (Ex 32), when Moses struck the rock (Num 20), when Achan became a thief (Josh 7), when David was declared guilty of murder (2 Sam 12), when Herod accepted praise as a god (Acts 12) and when Ananias and Sapphira lied to God (Acts 5). God did not provide a sacrifice; instead, he judged and punished the sin. The guilty persons “bore their own iniquity.” See Num 5:31; 30:15; Eze 18:20.


The SDA sanctuary doctrine completely ignores the first two points of this article. It teaches (at the least) that all confessed sins of believers have been brought by God’s sacrificial provisions into the Most Holy Place of the universe and have defiled it.

Heb. 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more [NKJ, NAS, RSV: no longer remains] sacrifice for sins,

Heb. 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Those who brought sacrifices were already Israelites through birth, circumcision, genealogy and/or the Passover event. In other words, they were already in a special covenant relationship with Yahweh. God gave them His law, holiness code and sacrificial system in order to keep them in fellowship with Him and to restore fellowship with Him. As His children, if they committed minor accidental sins, there was a means through the sacrificial system to receive forgiveness and escape discipline. However, when they committed willful and deliberate sins against God’s holiness code, they could expect often severe discipline as his children.

Perhaps the correct explanation of the controversial verse, Hebrews 10:26, can be found in the discussion of willful sin and the sanctuary. An OT Hebrew could not escape discipline by bringing a sacrifice for willful sin.

The point is that, even if the SDA doctrine that confessed sins defiled the sanctuary were correct (and it is not), a great many sins committed by Old Covenant Hebrews and New Covenant Christians do not qualify as “accidental sins” and the entire SDA doctrine becomes unnecessary and irrelevant.

Heb. 10:30 For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, says the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

Heb. 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Christians prefer to ignore the obvious and to interpret Hebrews 10:30-31 as saying God will invoke His vengeance on disobedient believers who do not confess willful sins. The texts do not teach that. God does not disinherit His children for willful sin no more than we do our own children. However, the discipline from such sin cannot be reversed. Such discipline might even include death (1 Cor. 11:30).

The child of God cannot re-sacrifice Christ to cover willful sin. He/she can confess sin, ask for mercy and pray for reconciliation into God’s fellowship without subsequent discipline, or he/she can expect judgment and strict discipline. Discipline is God’s prerogative!


SDAs teach that both the sanctuary on earth and also the one in heaven are defiled by sins which have already been confessed, atoned by a sacrifice and pronounced forgiven. In reality these  are the only sins committed by OT believers which did not “defile” the sanctuary on earth. And the heavenly sanctuary cannot be defiled in any manner.

Lev. 15:31 Thus shall you separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness that they do not die in their uncleanness when they “defile my tabernacle” that is among them.

Lev. 18:28 That the land does not spit you out also when you “defile” it, as it spat out the nations that were before you.

Lev 20:3 And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Moloch, “to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.

Numb. 5:2 Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that has an issue [of blood] and whosoever is “defiled” by the dead.

Numb. 5:3 Put out both male and female. Put them outside the camp “that they do not defile their camps” in the midst whereof I dwell.

Numb. 19:13 Whosoever [priest] touches the dead body of any man that is dead and does not purify himself “defiles the tabernacle” of the LORD and that person shall be cut off from Israel … (See also 19:20.)

Numb. 35:34 Do not “defile the land” which you shall inhabit wherein I dwell. For I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.

Ezra 2:62 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy but they were not found. Therefore were they, “as polluted,” put from the priesthood.

While SDAs teach that the sanctuary was defiled by the confessed, forgiven and atoned sins of God’s people, exactly the opposite is true! The sanctuary was only defiled by un-atoned sins. Again, the atoned sins were the only ones that did not defile the sanctuary!

First, Leviticus 15:25-31 and Numbers 5:2-3 teach that Israelites with blood-flow issues “defiled the sanctuary”; thus the sanctuary was defiled by not being cleansed through its use. Second, in its context, Leviticus 18:28 and Numbers 35:34 teach that the land itself was defiled by deliberate willful sin (which could not be brought into the sanctuary as unintentional sins). Third, Leviticus 20:2-3 teach that God’s sanctuary is defiled and His name is profaned by idolatry. Fourth, Numbers 19:13 teaches that a priest who failed to be cleansed and resumed his functions not only “defiled the tabernacle” but was “cut off.” Fifth, Ezra 2:62 teaches that “polluted” priests could not minister in the sanctuary.

Therefore, contrary to what SDAs teach, there is no Bible text which says that atoned sins defile the sanctuary!!! The land, the camp and the tabernacle were all defiled by either deliberate sin or other sins which could not or had not been atoned by sacrifice!

The atoned sins were washed away by the sinless blood of the sacrificial animal, a type of Christ. This death occurred at the “doorway” of the inner court which was reserved for the Levites and priests (Lev. 1:3; 3:2; 4:4; etc). Neither the penitent nor the live animal entered into the sanctuary itself.


SDAs teach that the atoned sins of the penitent are carried by the blood into the sanctuary and defile it – thus requiring a “cleansing” of the sanctuaries on earth and in heaven. Their interpretation makes Jesus the “bearer” of sin itself into the Most Holy Place.

In the NT it is clear that sacrificial blood always refers to the sinless, perfect, most holy blood of Jesus Christ who was recognized by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). There is not the slightest hint that Jesus’ blood defiled anything at any time.

The blood of Jesus Christ: (1) inaugurates the New Covenant: Mt 26:28, (2) allows for the forgiveness of sins: Mt 26:28, (3) activates the believer’s indwelling in Christ: Jn 6:53-56, (4) purchased the church: Acts 20:28, (5) is God’s means for justifying the believer through faith: Rom 3:24-25; 5:9, (6) is the unifying blessing by which believers assemble for fellowship: 1 Cor 10:16-17., (7) is God’s means for redemption: Rom 3:24-25, (8) is God’s means for reconciliation: Eph 2:13, (9) is God’s means for peace: Col 1:20, (10) Is the perfect sinless sacrifice in which sin is atoned, expiated or propitiated. Rom 3:24-25, (11) declares God righteous while passing over sins: Rom 3:25, (12) is a reminder in the communion of Christ’s death for sins: 1 Cor 10:25-27, (13) is the means by which God accepts sinners as His beloved: Eph 1:6-7, (14) enabled the high priest to enter into the Presence of God on the Day of Atonement: Heb 9:7, (15) enabled God to end the repetitious pattern with one sacrifice: Heb 9:12, 14, (16) is God’s perfect means for purging the conscience: Heb 9:14, (17) explains how God was righteously able to forgive sins during the OT era: Heb 10:4, (18) enables every NT believer to enter the Presence of God: Heb 10:19, (19) condemns those who change the holiness of the blood into an unholy thing (either by habitual sin or by conferring upon that blood a defiling function): Heb 10:29, (20) enables the believer to observe a spiritual Passover: Heb 11:28, (21) enables Jesus as our High Priest to mediate the New Covenant: Heb 12:24, (22) destroys the OT sanctuary pattern by positioning Christ’s reconciling altar among sinners: Heb 13:9-13, (23) activates sanctification of the believer: 1 Pet 1:2, (24) fulfills the OT sacrificial types: 1 Pet 1:18-19, (25) cleans the believer from both known confessed sin and residual sins of ignorance: 1 John 1:7-9, (26) washes away sin: Rev 1:5, (27) washes away sin and whitens: Rev 7:14 and (29) enables sinners to overcome: Rev 12:11.

In the O. T. sacrificial blood of the sin offering and trespass offering are always called “most holy.” In Exodus 12:13 the blood allows the death angel to pass over all sin, both presumptive and otherwise. In Exodus 24:4-8 sacrificial blood sanctified both the covenant and the people. In Exodus 29:20-21 and Leviticus 8:14-15, 30; 9:9 sacrificial blood sanctified the priests, their garments and the altar to inaugurate usage. 

Therefore, like the N. T. blood of Christ, O. T. sacrificial blood is never described as carrying the unclean defilement (leaven) of sin beyond the doorway where the sacrificial animal died.


Ex 29:44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.

Ex 29:45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

The SDA description of priests daily carrying sin-mingled unclean “sacrificial” blood into the sanctuary and defiling it is contrary to everything the Bible teaches about the most holiness of God, His sanctuary and His priests.

In Exodus 23:18 leaven (symbolic of sin) cannot be mixed with sacrificial blood. This alone should disprove the SDA theology that sacrificial blood can carry defiling sin (Ex 12:15, 19; 34:25; Lev 2:11; 6:17; 10:12; 23:17). Priests who touched anything unclean and forgot to wash before ministering were put to death (Lev 22:3).

The sinless and holy presence of God and Jesus Christ were visible in every aspect of the daily sanctuary ritual from the bloody altar of sacrifice and the water basin in the inner court to the table, candlestick and incense of the holy place. All of the offerings, especially the sin offering, were called “most holy” (Lev 6:17, 25; 7:1; Num 18:7-10). This mandatory holiness was especially true concerning the actions of the priests who had a divine ordination to always maintain holiness in everything they did.

Lev 22:3 Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goes 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.

Three sets of texts, Leviticus 21:11-12; 21:23 and 22:2-3 sufficiently disprove the SDA idea that priests routinely carried sin into the sanctuary. After commanding priests not to profane his sanctuary, God promised to cut off any who did.

The doorway of the tabernacle was as far as sin would go (Ex 29:42-43). Sin and sinners stopped at the doorway where the sacrifice was slain, “atonement” was made and the sinner was declared to be “accepted” (Lev 1:4), “cleansed” (Lev 12:8; Num 8:21) and “forgiven” (Lev 4:20, 35; 5:10, 13; 6:7). There is no indication that those same atoned sins would ever be reintroduced to condemn the penitent.

God cannot tolerate sin in His presence. When Moses asked to see God’s glory (Ex. 33:18), he was only allowed to see the distant recession as God passed (33:22-23). In Isaiah 6:3-5 the prophet became aware of his horrible sinfulness when confronted with the throne of God. In Second Chronicles 26:19, when King Uzziah dared to enter the Holy Place and offer incense, God struck him with leprosy. In Ezekiel 1:1-23 and Revelation 1:12-18 the prophets are equally struck with the holiness of God and His throne. Yet SDAs convert God’s throne room into the storage room for all confessed and atoned sins since Adam.

[It is inconceivable to think that God would allow the Most Holy Place of the entire universe to be corrupted by sin for any length of time –much less since Adam! Yet this is exactly what SDAs teach.]


Lev. 5:2 If a soul touch any unclean thing … and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean and guilty.

Under the normal day-to-day circumstances of Old Testament life, the “unclean” defiled anything “clean” which it touched (Lev. 5:2). Jesus’ comment in Matthew 23:24 about “straining out gnats” referred to the Pharisees’ habit of insuring that their drink was not contaminated by unclean insects. Numbers 19:15 says “And every open vessel, which has no covering bound upon it, is unclean.” This shows the extent to which defilement was to be kept out of the sanctuary also.

When something contagious touches something which is not antiseptically clean, usually both items/persons become infected. Sin and sin-laden blood normally defile!


Ex 30:26 And you shall anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,

Ex 30:27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,

Ex 30:28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and its foot.

Ex 30:29 And you shall sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever touches them shall be holy.

Lev. 6:17 [The grain offering] shall not be baked with leaven. … it is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.

Lev. 6:18 All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it. … every one that touches them shall be holy.

Lev. 6:25 This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD. It is most holy.


Lev. 6:27 Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy [NAS: become consecrated; NIV become holy]: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, you shall wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place.

Numb. 18:9 This shall be yours of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every grain offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render to me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons.


clean plus defiled = defiled             

touch dead animal = defiled            



defiled plus sacriffice = most holy

touch dead sacrificial animal = holy


It is extremely important to realize that the “clean to unclean” law (Lev 5:2) was reversed when sacrificial offerings were involved. And this reversal destroys the SDA logic about the priests carrying and transferring sin in the sanctuary!


Whosoever or whatsoever touches a holy or most holy item inside the sanctuary through the normal sacrificial ritual had an additional anointing of holiness or most-holiness conferred. The “sin” and “trespass” offerings became such, not because their blood could carry sin into the sanctuary, but because they were innocent and holy and could bear the guilt of sin by destroying it through their death.


Lev 12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

When the sacrifice died as a sin offering at the entrance of the sanctuary, the payment for the confessed sin was complete and the sin itself was exterminated. The ministering “most holy” priest collected the “most holy” blood of the “now-most holy” sin and trespass offering and placed it on the various “most holy” altars or ate portions of the “most holy” sacrifice (Ex 29: 37; 30:26-29; Lev 6:17-18, 25-27; Num 18:9). The holiness was super-intensified!

The blood was brought inside the sanctuary, not to defile it, but as a proof (receipt of payment rendered) that the redemption price had already been fully paid. The priest announced to the penitent that “an atonement for him before the LORD” had been made and that he was “forgiven” of his “trespass” (Lev. 4:20; 5:6 and 6:7).

The blood was not brought into the sanctuary, as Ellen White wrote, “to make satisfaction for its claims” (GC420).The satisfaction had already been made and announced when the sacrificial animal’s blood was shed! Even at Calvary the redemption price was paid when Jesus shed his blood, pronounced forgiveness, announced “it is finished” and died.

SDAs seriously err here in two ways. First, they teach that “sin-transfer” blood literally carries the actual confessed sins into the sanctuary to defile it. Second, they teach that this same blood then makes atonement, or satisfaction. However, the life-blood was accepted, not because it was carrying sin, but (like Christ) because it had already washed away sin and was “most holy.”

Contrary to SDA theology, sacrificial blood always “cleansed” or “washed away” sin. Sacrificial blood did not transfer sin to another place (to be dealt with later) only to defile that other place — the Most Holy Place in heaven!

Sacrificial blood is the redemption price for sin (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12). The sinner does not “give” his/her sins to God –the sinner asks God to wash them away and forget them. Redemption blood brings the sinner “near” to God by reconciliation — not by defiling God’s dwelling place (Eph 2:13). God could not declare “peace through the blood” if that same blood had defiled His throne (Col. 1:20).


NORMAL: SINNERS                                     

“bear sins” = suffer consequences;             deserve punishment



bear sins = bear away via atonement;

administer priestly functions

Lev. 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.

The heart of the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine can be found in The Great Controversy, page 418. “The blood representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil.” This statement is false. First, the blood of a sacrificial animal, like the blood of Jesus Christ did not “represent the forfeited life of the sinner.” Rather it represented the perfect sinless life of the sacrifice which effected the atonement. Sinless blood –not sinful blood– paid the price for sin. The sin stopped and the doorway and did not enter the tabernacle. Second, the sin itself was not brought into the sanctuary via sin-carrying sacrificial blood, nor placed on the horns of the altar nor sprinkled before the veil. Rather the sinless blood of a perfect sacrifice was brought into the sanctuary as a “receipt” or “proof” that the sin had been redeemed by a sinless sacrifice! In a comparative way the sacrificial blood recorded the finished atonement and that is far different from teaching that it transferred the sin itself. Compare Jeremiah 17:1.

Ellen G. White continued “By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary.” This is also false. Although Ellen White frequently used the word “transfer,” it is not a biblical concept beyond the doorway. First, she is correct when she says that the sinner transferred sins to the living sacrifice (Isa 53:6, 12; 2 Cor 5:21). Second, it is true that the transfer of sins to the sacrifice resulted in its death. However the “transfer of sin” stopped with the slain sacrifice. The sin-bearing sinless sacrifice died but its sinless essence [of Christ] overcame and its sinlessness was imputed backwards towards the penitent sinner. That which went forward into the sanctuary through the blood was the sinless redemptive power of the perfect sacrifice –not the sins! The sinless blood of the “most holy” offering was presented to God and recorded in heaven.

Ellen White concluded by quoting only the last half of Leviticus 10:17 “‘God hath given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.’ Both ceremonies alike [eating and/or sprinkling the sin offering] symbolized the transfer of the sin from the penitent to the sanctuary.” This is also false.

The entire quote of Leviticus 10:17 is Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God has given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?”

In its full context the sin offering was “most holy.” Outside of its context SDAs describe bearing the sin offering as bearing sin into the sanctuary to defile it. Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventists and many others fail to distinguish the difference between the way that the phrases “bear sins” or “bear iniquity” are used in God’s Word.


Under normal circumstances a person, land or even a building which was guilty of sin or defilement was to “bear” the consequences of un-atoned sin by punishment from the judges, death or destruction.

In Ex 28:43 priests were commanded to wear their consecrated garments when they entered the tabernacle or approached the altar to minister “that they bear not iniquity, and die.” This kind of “bearing iniquity” would kill them!

Again in Leviticus 22:14-16 a non-priest who unintentionally ate part of something which had been offered as a holy gift was required to add a fifth to the gift in order to prevent the priest from accidentally “bearing the guilt of the trespass offering.” Such accidental act would profane the most holy offering.

Also in Numbers 18:22 the law declared that any Israelite other than the ministering Levites and priests who approached the tabernacle of the congregation would “bear sin and die.”

Therefore since any defiled person who entered the sanctuary was to be put to death, it is extremely illogical to teach (as SDAs do) that the most holy priests routinely transferred sin into it through most holy sacrificial blood.


In Exodus 28:38, priests were to “bear iniquity” in a very different manner because they were ministering most holy sacrifices and sin offerings. The NAS reads “take away”; the NIV says “bear the guilt involved” and the RSV says “take upon himself any guilt incurred.”

[Several of the most accessible commentaries agree that it is the “guilt” and not the sin itself which was being removed by the priests.  The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says “bear” refers to the anointing mediator/intercessor. The Adam Clarke Commentary says the bearing is vicarious as a type of Christ. The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary says “bear” means “to exterminate it by taking it upon one’s self. … an atoning, sin-exterminating intercession was associated with his office.” The Matthew Henry Commentary says Christ bears it for us so as to bear it from us. The point is that the priests were “bearing” the guilt away from the sinner by exterminating it rather than by moving it deep into the sanctuary to defile everything inside.]

Therefore, in its sacrificial and intercessory sense “bear the iniquity” clearly means “bear the responsibility of officiating during the ritual where sin is atoned through sacrifices.” This is clear in Numbers 18:1 “And the LORD said to Aaron, you and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.”

As soon as the O. T. priest received the sin offering, that sin offering became most holy (Num 18:9). Touching the sin offering mutually transferred more holiness between the priest and the sin offering (Lev. 6:27). Therefore, instead of transferring sin into the sanctuary via the priests (as SDAs teach), the most holy sacrifice actually transferred more holiness to the priests and into the sanctuary! The holy priest was only allowed to touch, handle and work with holy things and most holy things!

For the priest, “bearing sin” as part of his service meant “bearing sin away.” Since no thing (nor person) unclean or defiled was allowed to enter the sanctuary, the sanctuary was not defiled through the normal daily ministry itself. The vicarious death of the innocent sacrificial animal allowed the priest to grant forgiveness (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:15). The sin had disappeared! The sin itself had been washed away (Ps 51:2, 7).

There is also a judicial or legislative aspect of “bearing sin.” In Numbers 11:47 God added 70 elders in order that “they shall bear the burden of the people with thee.”


One of the most horrific statements of Ellen G. White’s career is on page 421 of The Great Controversy: “As anciently the SINS of the people were placed by faith upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the SINS of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, IN FACT, to the heavenly sanctuary.” This must mean that Jesus Christ (not the little horn or the saints) is the one who has defiled and continues to defile the SDA version of the heavenly sanctuary by carrying sin into the Most Holy Place of the universe!

Nothing could be farther from the truth. SDAs confer on Jesus’ blood a dual function of both washing away sins and also carrying sins into the sanctuary and defiling it.

It is true that the guilt and weight of all sin was placed on Jesus during his lifetime and especially at the cross (Isa 53:6, 12; Mt 8:16-17; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 2:24). It is also true that Jesus took away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29),

Jesus arose from death because he had appeared once at the end of God’s age (not in 1844) and had put away sin once for all time (Heb 9:26). Just as the O. T. sin stopped at the doorway to the tabernacle where the sacrificial animal died, even so in the New Covenant sin stopped at Calvary. It is inconceivable to think that Jesus appeared before the Father after His resurrection and handed Him “all the sins of the world” to store in the Most Holy Place until He would only very slowly begin to remove them in 1844.

SDAs are wrong when they teach that the daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal sacrificial blood defiled the temple while the yearly Day of Atonement sacrificial blood cleaned it. Shockingly, SDA theology teaches that Jesus Himself was, and still is, the greatest polluter of the heavenly sanctuary because (they teach that) He bore, and is still transferring atoned sins into it .


There are several aspects of the Day of Atonement cleansing which are scarcely discussed but must be considered in reaching a conclusion about both the contents and nature of the cleansing.

First is the content of the sins. As already pointed out, only sins of ignorance, omission, necessity and minor offence were involved in personal confession at the sanctuary. There was no personal sacrifice for willful pre-meditated sins and none was needed because they were ministered and disciplined by the Israel’s judicial system which enforced the judgments of the law.

Second is the previously discussed fact that the sanctuary was defiled, not by confessed and atoned sin, but by those sins which had not been brought into it and remained un-cleansed by atonement.

Third, we have often subconsciously allowed SDA theology to control the discussion and have focused only on the “cleansing” of the Day of Atonement (as if it were the only time cleansing occurred) to the neglect of the most everyday cleansing which preceded it. “Clean,” “cleanse,” “cleansed,” and “cleansing” are extremely common words which occur in the everyday sanctuary routine. Three forms of the Hebrew word, tahor, occur over sixty (60) times in Leviticus alone.

[In other words, “cleansing” from defilement was far from being limited to the Day of Atonement. All Hebrew worshippers and sacrificial animals were expected to be in a physical state of cleanliness when they approached the doorway of the sanctuary to offer sacrifices (Num 9:13). Ritual cleansing occurred every day. There was daily “cleansing” (1) of unclean vessels or garments which had touched unclean animals (Lev 11:30-32), (2) of mothers after childbirth: “The priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean” (Lev 12:6-8) (3) of skin eruptions (Lev 13:6, 13), (4) of the sick (Lev 13:17, 28, 34, 37, 39), (5) of lepers: “The priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean” (Lev 14:20), (6) of contaminated houses: “Make an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean” (Lev 14:53), (7) from eating un-sacrificed meat (Lev 17:15), (8) of Levites offered for an offering (Num 8:6, 15, 21), (9) of purification by the ashes of the red heifer (Num 19:9), (10) from touching dead bodies (Num 19:19), (11) of spoils of war by fire (Num 31:23), (12) of the Temple at its re-inauguration (2 Chron 29:15) and (13) from sins of omission (2 Chron 30:18). We must avoid the SDA mindset that cleansing of all sins was only a yearly event. ]

Fourth, the SDA doctrine fails to explain that the entire sanctuary was “cleansed” on the Day of Atonement and not merely the Most Holy Place. In Leviticus 16:15-20 the Most Holy Place was cleansed first and the remainder of the sanctuary followed. Yet in the SDA sequence Jesus (at least) ministered in the Holy Place until 1844. This would have required that the Holy Place be “cleansed” before the Most Holy Place.

Fifth, the key text, Leviticus 16:16, reveals the purpose of the cleansing: “and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness” (KJV, NKJ). The NAS and RSV read “which abides with them.”

The Day of Atonement immediately preceded the Feast of Ingathering which was symbolic of entering God’s perfect rest in His kingdom. It was preceded by the “affliction of soul” (Lev 23:27-34). The sins which were cleansed on the Day of Atonement were, as usual, not pre-meditated high-handed sins which resulted in one being “cut off.” Rather they were residual sins which had not been previously cleansed by sacrificial blood. God does not require that the same sins be cleansed twice. This was one final opportunity to recall accidental sins which prevented full fellowship with God.

There is yet another important aspect of the sins on the Day of Atonement which is caused by the very presence of sinful humans when a holy God remained, abided or dwelled “among them” — in their “midst.”

Those who had been defiled by unavoidable and un-atonable uncleanness were forced to leave the camp “that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell” (Num 5:3). “Separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them” (Lev 15:31). “For the LORD thy God walks in the midst of thy camp” (Deut 23:14).

This end-of-the-religious-year final cleansing is not a new idea. Barnes Notes says “The most sacred earthly things which came into contact with the nature of man needed from time to time to be cleansed and sanctified by the blood of the sin-offerings which had been taken into the presence of Yahweh.”

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says “The sacrifices on the Day of Atonement were intended only to expiate outward sins, which, being unknown, had not been expiated by the ordinary sacrifices.”

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary says “The holy things were rendered unclean, not only by the [un-atoned] sins of those who touched them, but by the uncleanness, i.e., the bodily manifestations of the sin of the nation; so that they also required a yearly expiation and cleansing through the expiatory blood of sacrifice.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary says “The reason intimated is because the tabernacle remained among them in the midst of their uncleanness, v. 16. God would hereby show them how much their hearts needed to be purified, when even the tabernacle, only by standing in the midst of such an impure and sinful people, needed this expiation; and also that even their devotions and religious performances had much amiss in them, for which it was necessary that atonement should be made.”

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says “The day appointed for a yearly, general, and perfect expiation for all the sins and uncleanness that might remain, despite the regular sacrifices. … Even with the most scrupulous observance of the prescribed ordinances many sins and defilements would still remain unacknowledged and therefore without expiation. This want was met by the appointment of a yearly, general, and perfect expiation of all the sins and uncleanness that had remained un-atoned for and un-cleaned in the course of the year (Lev. 16:33)”

Sixth, the yearly cleansing of the righteous of the Day of Atonement has no equivalent future fulfillment because a) the heavenly sanctuary is not located “in the midst” of several million sinners, b) Jesus’ death once and for all time fulfilled the O.T. sanctuary shadows (Heb 9:25-28; 10:1-3), c) The O. T. sanctuary was only a figure for “the time then present” (9:9), d) the New Covenant is “not according to the Old Covenant” (8:9) and e) a key difference in the New Covenant is that God would no longer remember sins and iniquities as in the Day of Atonement (8:12). There would not even be a record of atoned sins in heavenly books!  Yet Ellen G. White says that Hebrews 8:12 does not begin to have “compete fulfillment” until 1844 (The Great Controversy, page 485).

Concluding Remarks:

The great Bible promises associated with forgiveness apply to the moment the blood is shed and not to a so-called Investigative Judgment which would not begin until 1844. Only Seventh-day Adventists teach that God will re-consider whether or not our confessed and atoned sins will remain on the books of heaven. Even the Wesleyan Arminians teach that a possible fall from grace will be caused by sins which have not been previously confessed. Once a sin has been covered by the blood, it remains forever covered. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex 12:13). “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Ps 51:7). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Ps 103:12).”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the real judgment message. Those who believe in Christ already have received the verdict of the final judgment which is “eternal life” (Jn 3:16). The Greek word for “condemned” relates to judgment. When John 5:24 says “He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” — it means “already has everlasting life,” “shall not come into judgment (krisin)” and “has already passed from death to life.” When Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” it means in the Greek “no contrary judgment sentence” (kata-krima). Hebrews 9:27-28 relates to the judgment, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” The believer’s appointment to meet God at a judgment to determine guilt or innocence has already been met by Jesus Christ at Calvary. That verdict of “righteous in Christ” is placed on the believer, not after 1844, but at the moment of conversion. These great New Covenant texts applied over 1800 years before 1844. Yet SDAs teach that all believers must wait until the end of an Investigative Judgment which began in 1844 before they can be assured of their salvation.

Seventh-day Adventists do not explain “why” God waited so long to begin cleansing the heavenly sanctuary. They spend most of their efforts trying to explain “when.” This is not a trivial matter! If your favorite room were found to be incredibly defiled, how long would you wait before cleaning it? Common sense would dictate that any defilement of God’s personal dwelling place would result in an immediate cleansing by the Omniscient God. Therefore, in any situation in which the sanctuary would be defiled, the priests would make every effort to clean it as soon as possible.