Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Law Breaking, the Old Covenant, and Penal Substitution

The Word of God gives us the commands of God that we should obey. While the Old Testament Law was given graciously to God's people after He brought them out of Egypt through the Red Sea, an act of redemption, the OT Law laid out a path of obedience so that God's people could be holy as God is holy. Obedience to the Law offered holiness.

It is unbiblical to think that salvation from hell is found only through conforming to Jesus’ word or law. God’s demand is that we should be perfect confirming to His every command. Can you and I meet that standard? No person is perfect before God. James 2:10 tells us that if we break the law of God at one point, we have broken the law. Therefore one sin is all I need to be eternally condemned because with one sin I break the holy Law. With one sin I am no longer holy as God is holy. And without holiness no one shall see God (Hebrews 12:14; Rev. 21:27).

The Bible tells us all have sinned, no one is righteous or holy (Romans 3:9-12, 23). No one actually conforms to God’s demand. Words like “none” and “all” in Romans 3:9-12, 23 mean everyone without exception fail to give to God what He demands.

If I do not keep all of God’s law and perform them then I am under the curse of God’s Law. Gal. 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” The Old Testament confirms this in Deut. 27:26.

It is good if you recognize we must give an account for our sin. It is good if you recognize God’s demand. The problem is, if you think that you and I can obey God generally good enough to have holiness or pass the judgment of God, then you have missed how strong and clear the Law of God is against our sin. If you have any guilt in you whatsoever you will not be cleared. This is why it is vital that one stand in our place.

This is why the Old Covenant Law set up sin offerings by which guilt can be removed. There was a day of atonement where the priest would symbolically lay his hands on the sacrifice signifying the guilt be borne by another. The problem is that these sacrifices were yearly since they never really cleansed sin with any finality or completeness. These sacrifices were symbolic and these sacrifices never really cleared the guilt of Israel. She, though having God’s perfect Law, never obeyed or walked in it. The sacrifices were like a signpost point to a greater sacrifice. Can there be one that is final? Can there be one that can remove sin and establish God’s people in the righteousness and sanctification they need?

The final, complete and perfect sacrifice is Christ’s sacrifice which is on our behalf just like guilt offerings in the Old Testament. We need Jesus to stand not only as our high priest but as our sacrifice. In fact, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. This blood must cleanse us. Jesus offered himself without blemish as a sacrifice in order to accomplish eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-14). The word redemption means buying someone back through the payment of a price, in this case their penalty of sin against God.

In the Old Testament, priests would make a sacrifice and go into the temple or tabernacle to present the blood before God. Jesus could only go into heaven’s temple after He gave His blood as a sacrifice for redemption. This blood cleanses people from their sin.
Hebrews 9:12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The sacrifices of the Old Testament show us that blood is what is need to cleanse from sin--but not the blood of goats and bulls. It must be a human sacrifice. But one has to be clean from sin in order to be a substitute for someone else. My blood can only ever pay for my sin because I am guilty. My blood shed for my sin is the just penalty as I give an account before God and in this accounting I cannot see God because sin separates from God. So Jesus willingly becomes a substitute. Jesus’ blood can cleanse your conscience, if you receive Him by faith. Faith is not merely being sorry that Jesus life was lost by bloodshed. Faith is believing Jesus died on behalf of sin and receiving that death as a cleansing from sin.

The only way we can be holy is to be sanctified by Jesus as our offering. While goats and bulls could not take away sin, only Jesus doing the will of the Father could do that. The sin offering of Jesus makes holy those who believe in Him:

Hebrews 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me;
6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
7 “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) To do Your will, O God.’ ”
8 After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law),
9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.
10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them,” He then says,
17“And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Let's be blunt holiness (sanctification) comes only through Jesus who is our sin offering. We need to understand that we will all give an account before God. In that account we are all guilty and condemned. No one is holy, no one is righteous before God. Left to ourselves and to our own account we cannot see God. It is the sacrificial offering of Christ that brings our redemption and secures our holiness.

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"The Voyages..." Forays into Biblical studies, Biblical exegesis, theology, exposition, life, and occasionally some Star Trek...