Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Not Guilty!

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving (Holy) Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the Law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the Law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the (Holy) Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NLT)

Jesus Christ is our “sacrifice of atonement” (Romans 3:25, NLT). In other words, Jesus Christ died in our place, for our sins. All people are sinners – Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) (see Romans 1:18-3:20). We all have disobeyed and offended a holy God by our sin (Romans 3:23). No acceptance by or fellowship with God can be expected unless atonement is made. Even more, our best efforts or good actions to establish our fellowship with God is ruinous foolishness and simply cannot be humanly done (see Job 15:14-16; Romans 10:2-4).

However, God has graciously and mercifully provided everyone a path to righteousness and a return to a state of glory through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23; see also Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8:4-8; Ephesians 2:4; Hebrews 2:5-9). God kindly declared Jesus Christ's death on Calvary’s Cross to be the appropriate atonement for all human sin. In other words, Jesus Christ’s selfless death became God’s designated sacrifice and ransom for all human sin as He paid the penalty of death for ALL our sins (past, present, and future). This atoning work of Jesus Christ is an act by which God Himself through Jesus Christ restored a right relationship of fellowship and unity between Himself and sinful humanity (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). This amazing grace is the focal point of New Testament faith, hope, worship, ethics, and spiritual life.

Because of Adam and Eve’s sin (Romans 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:22) and our own personal sins (Colossians 1:21), no human is worthy of relationship with God (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). In fact, all humans helplessly stand as condemned or guilty sinners before a holy and righteous God (Romans 3:9-18). Yet, our loving and gracious God responded to our helplessness by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ as a ransom to free us from our sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1-4). Jesus Christ bridged the gap between a holy God and sinful humans by making salvation and righteousness available to all people that believe in Him (1 Timothy 2:6-7). The Holy Bible teaches that Jesus Christ willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice (“a sin offering”) and a ransom on Calvary’s Cross to free us from human sins (Matthew 20:28).

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 (NLT)

When God brought Israel out of Egypt, He established a system of atonement for the Israelites’ sin. This system involved the shedding and offering of the blood of unflawed animals “to make atonement” for sin (Leviticus 17:11). The blood of animal sacrifices was continually offered at the Temple as a substitute for human sin and death (Ezekiel 18:20). The human sinner deserved: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls” (Leviticus 17:11). However, those repeated sacrifices could never permanently remove human sins (Hebrews 10:4) as they were only temporary (Hebrews 10:1).

And she (Mary) will have a Son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (NLT)

God sent Jesus Christ to pay the final ransom price and became the final sacrifice to permanently save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus means "the LORD saves." Thus, God sent His one and only Son Jesus into the world to save humanity because we could not save ourselves from sin and sin’s consequences (John 3:16). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus God was literally among us, "with us" (Matthew 1:23).

Atonement was possible because “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin” (Romans 3:25, NLT). God’s justice against our sins was served in the death of Jesus Christ as a substitute: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12) and declared us humans “not guilty” (or justified). Even more amazing, Jesus Christ willingly gave His life as a ransom for our sins (Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:6). Though God laid on Jesus Christ the sins of us all (Isaiah 53:6; also 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13), Jesus Christ “has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2), so that those who believe in Him (Romans 3:22) might receive atonement and “be saved from [God’s] wrath” (Romans 5:9) through “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter. 1:19). Through Jesus Christ, God will present us “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Jesus Christ has purchased our freedom from sin and the purchase price was His holy life (Romans 3:24).

Through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement, we are declared not guilty and innocent by God regardless of our background, previous sins, and past failures as if we had never sinned. God removes all the charges from our record and we are given a fresh start (a new beginning) (2 Corinthians 5:17). No matter how good we are or try to be, we humans cannot eliminate our sinful nature. ONLY faith and acceptance in the atoning work of Jesus Christ can remove human sin — the permanent, powerful, sin-destroying forgiveness (Romans 3:21-25). Even more, God send us His Holy Spirit to give us a new life or rebirth – we are born again or redeem by God – through faith and acceptance in Jesus Christ’s atoning life and amazing work on Calvary’s Cross (see John 1:12-13; John 3:3, 6-7; Colossians 2:6-7). The Holy Spirit gives believing Christians the power needed to live holy and righteous lives like God (see John 3:6; Acts 1:3-5). Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is present every day in the lives of believing Christians (Matthew 1:23).

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. Romans 3:23-25 (NLT)

Life Application Study Bible. Carol Streams, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005.
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
Packer, J.I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Carol Stream, IL:  Tyndale House Pub., 1993.
Youngblood, Ronald F. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1995

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