Jesus Paid Our Sin Debt - Ron & Nathele Graham - www.straitandnarrowministry.com
Most people have some debt. It might be a mortgage or rent, a car payment, credit cards, or school loans. As we make payments on these debts we can see that someday they will be paid off. When that day comes we breathe a sigh of relief and sometimes have a celebration. There is a debt, though, that is owed by all humans and we are unable to pay. That debt is the debt of sin that Adam brought upon all of mankind. Sin has separated us from God and the only way to ever be able to stand in His presence is to be perfect. That perfection is by God's standards and is impossible for humans to attain. Adam and Eve tried to cover their sin by their own efforts using fig leaves, but God demonstrated what He required when He shed the blood of an animal to make coats of skins to cover their sin. As time went on God gave the Law to the Jews. In it He gave them His standards of perfection and He also instructed them to make the animal sacrifices to temporarily atone for sin. "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." Hebrews 10:4. The blood of an animal could only cover the sin, not take it away. It would take the blood of God Himself to pay our debt and take our sin away.
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:13-14. When Jesus left Heaven to enter His creation it was so He could become our perfect sacrifice for sin. The Bible makes it clear that we are saved because we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve couldn't take their sin away by covering it with fig leaves, nor is any form of works sufficient. There is nothing we can do on our own to obtain salvation. It is only faith in Christ that allows our sins to be forgiven; He is our atonement and our salvation.
God's word teaches that only by the death of a perfect man could mankind ever hope to be justified. No human could accomplish this because there is no mere human who is not tainted by sin. God had to become human to redeem humans. For this reason God Himself chose to become one of us with flesh and bones; He became the perfect sacrifice for our sin and made atonement, or “propitiation”, for the entire world. All it takes to be redeemed is to truly believe in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. When we place our faith and our trust in Him as our Savior and Lord, in the blink of an eye we are born again. That means we are justified in God's sight. It’s not difficult, painful, or even costly. God wants all humans to come to this realization and believe; by doing so we become His children (sons of God). Paul wrote to the believers in Rome “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. You can't just say it with your mouth...you also have to believe it. When we confess that Jesus Christ died for our sin, we are justified. That doesn't mean that we are perfect, but our sins are forgiven and our salvation is secure. Justification means that God sees the forgiven sinner through the blood of Christ and has declared that person acceptable to Him.
When we first believe we become justified in God’s sight. It is by faith that we believe God stepped into His creation and died for the sin of the world. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins and there is no other way to be saved. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;" Romans 3:25. The word "propitiation", in this context, is elsewhere translated "mercyseat". The Mercy Seat was located in the Holy of Holies and a yearly sacrifice of atonement was made on Yom Kippur. The blood of the sacrificed bullock was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat of God. Leviticus chapter 16 describes how this was to be done, and as always the Law is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. He is our once for all sacrifice so we no longer have to make the yearly sacrifice. When He paid our debt it was paid in full.
Justification is the first step in a lifelong journey. What follows is sanctification. That is the process that brings us into a closer walk with our Lord. When we first believe we change our mind about sin. We recognize that we are sinners, and that Christ is our only way of salvation. This change of mind should bring a desire to become more like Jesus. That desire to be like Him should result in changes taking place in our daily life. We cannot earn salvation, but our words, attitude, and actions should reflect our salvation. In the salutation in his first letter, Peter refers to himself as "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." 1 Peter 1:2. Peter's failures are well known, but through faith and the sanctification process he became a wonderful example of how true faith in Christ will change a person. Peter turned from a brash and outspoken disciple to a humble and obedient Apostle. He became a leader of the believers and was bold in his witness for his Redeemer. We can all learn from his example.
Salvation is eternal. If your confession of faith was honest and not done to make someone else happy or on a whim, then when you fail in your walk with Christ your salvation is still secure. The Holy Spirit is sealed within all who have sincerely accepted Christ. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” Ephesians 1:13. God made us a promise. Once we believe and trust in Jesus Christ we are sealed with His Holy Spirit. This is a God-sealed promise that cannot be removed, ever, by anyone or anything. "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10:28-29. Do you think you are stronger than God and can open His hands and jump out? Not hardly. If salvation was up to us we would lose it for sure, but our salvation is safe in God's hands. It is God who saves us and He who keeps us saved. This Godly involvement is referred to as sanctification. Believers will go through all sorts of ups and downs and occasionally we might fall down some rather slippery slopes. God is always there to lift us back up and give us His assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us. This is the ongoing process of sanctification...the lifelong work of God in every believer's life.
Many people get confused when it comes to the two concepts of being born again and fellowship with God. These are two entirely different things but they go hand in hand. We cannot have fellowship with God unless we are born again, yet we can be born again and also be out of fellowship. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned we make him a liar, and his word is no in us." 1 John 1:8-10. We all should desire to be in fellowship with God but each time we sin that fellowship is broken until we repent. Being born again is not an on again off again state in a person’s life, but we will always struggle against sin. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, fellowship with God is an on again off again relationship because of sin. Confess to Him when you sin and He will forgive you and fellowship is restored. Then turn from that sin. This is how the sanctification process works. Just like a child learning to walk there is a lot of stumbling, but that child learns from the falls and soon is running. So should we learn from our falls and become steady in our walk with Jesus.
How often have you looked at a person who claims Christ is their Saviour, but you see no fruit of their salvation? They get angry at the drop of a hat, they use language that would embarrass almost anyone, they frequent places that should not be frequented, and many more things that are just plain wrong. How can these people possibly be saved? It's the sanctification process. If they truly accepted Christ as their Saviour, then even their bad behavior is forgiven. Let me ask this question. What about you? How far along are you in the sanctification process? Before being too critical of others, look at yourself and see if you are moving closer to Jesus or are you moving farther away? Before you worry too much about the shortcomings of others, be sure you are examining your own life and are moving ever closer to Jesus.
The final part of this process is glorification. That is probably the one that we look forward to but don't really want to think about. "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. Glorification happens upon death. Well, it happens when a Christian dies. To those who have rejected Christ there is nothing to look forward to after death except complete and utter despair for eternity. To the Christian, death is glorious! As long as we are on this earth we walk by faith, but upon death we step into the presence of Jesus and at long last we will see Him face to face. There is nothing in this life that will ever prepare us for the wonders we will find there.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17. We are joint heirs of the Kingdom of God with Christ. Suffering is a part of being children of God. We get persecuted because of our faith and need to choose God's ways instead of human ways, but that is the sanctification process at work. When we step into His presence we won't remember the things we thought we suffered through to serve Christ. It’s important to remember we will be glorified with Christ at our immediate release of these earthly vessels. If we must endure a little suffering along that journey, then rejoice knowing you suffer for Christ.
Right now take a moment to examine your life. Are you allowing the sanctification to work in you? Jesus Christ left Heaven to pay your sin debt. Your debt can only be paid if you accept His gift. Then, move forward in the sanctification process making godly choices and asking forgiveness when you fail. Any sacrifice on your part will be worth it when you stand before Him in Glory.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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