The Cross

“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” -Romans 7:18 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Pslams 51:5 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

It is clear through scripture that mankind is woefully destitute of any innate spiritual qualities of holiness, righteousness or purity. We are void of an ability, in and of ourselves, to satisfy the Will and the Purpose of the infinite, holy, eternally righteous and just God. There are those among us considered by human standards to be good. Scripture, clearly measuring each of us by the standard of our Divine Creator, has this to say of even those we feel represent the best of us – “…there is none good but God.”

The power and authority of sin, under which we are all born commands our obedience. This is why we find it impossible, despite our best attempts, our yearly resolutions, our personal or corporate covenants or even our most sincere professions, to stop living in a manner that we know, based upon scripture , displeases God. Habits, vices, lusts, thoughts, relationships that we know displease God we find ourselves slaves to. We are born slaves to sin. For when we know to do good, we find that there is another law in our members demanding our obedience. It is the experience of each of us, regardless of social status, race, creed or religious persuasion that when we sincerely desired to do good, and knew what was good to do, somewhere along the line we failed to do the good that we knew.

The Apostle Paul expresses this common human experience, this struggle with sin, this way in Romans Chapter 7:16-24 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

What an utterly dreadful state to be in. Yet, Paul is expressing not only his individual experience, but God through scripture uses Paul to put a voice to the woeful state of all of humanity. A state of utter helplessness to a master that rules us from the inside out. Sin.

 But there is hope. For it is the result of the sin of Adam through his disobedience to God in Eden, that we his descendents are born into this dire state. Yet God has countered Satan’s attempts at our eternal destruction through sin by making a provision for our release to it’s bondage. 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ humanity can find release from the burden, bondage and eternal penalty of sin. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

What is the Gospel you ask? The gospel is the life, the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the provision of a Holy God of a sacrifice that would satisfy his wrath against sin. For God as the sovereign Lord of all creation being completely holy and pure cannot ultimately allow sin to go unpunished. All those who sin, sinners, must receive the payment that sin demands. Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our lord. Sin being a disobedience to the Almighty God, who is life, is therefore a rejection of God and consequently a rejection of life, leaving as the ultimate consequence for the sinner, the result of sin- death. This is also seen in Genesis where God commands Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for the day that he eats thereof he shall surely die. Immediately upon eating, Adam’s (mankind’s) relationship with God, again who is life, was severed. There was an immediate spiritual death. As a result of sin physical death also began to act against his body, leading to the degenerative affects of aging and ultimately physical death until man returns to the dust from which he was taken as God told Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Eternal death, which is the everlasting separation from God in the lake of fire is the ultimate result of sin. But God in his eternal love for us, not wishing that any of us perish has made a provision for our redemption!

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

After Adam and Eve sinned they attempted to deal with thier sin problem themselves. They hid and covered themselves with fig leaves. It is telling that our fore-parents at the dawn of humanities dealing with sin exercised a response to sin that we often exercise today. We hide and try to cover our shame with methods of our own devising. It is notable that God did not allow the coverings that man provided for himself to remain. Fig leaves, mans provision for the covering of his sin, were insufficient. God provided them instead with coats of skin. His provision revealed to man what would satisfy his wrath against sin. Since the wages of sin is death, and Adam and Eve having sinned had now earned that wage -death – spiritual, natural and eternal- God’s wrath was kindled against that sin and payment was demanded. As holy and sovereign Lord he could not allow sin to go unanswered. But in his grace and his mercy, the payment that should have befallen Adam and Eve, the sinners, God instead provided the first sacrifice, a foreshadow of things to come, when He provided them with coats of skin, which necessitated the taking of the life, the shedding of blood, of an animal-presumably a lamb or sheep.

This act of God in response to mans first act of sin before he expelled them from Eden in the provision of the first sacrifice, via the shedding of blood and the giving of life and the covering of mans sin was a foreshadow of the His ultimate provision of Himself, the Lamb of God, the shedding of His blood and the giving of His life for humanity. His sacrifice, as Jesus Christ washes away, not only covers, the sins of those who receive the gospel message.

Hebrews 9:22, 23 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. 23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

As the innocent animal God slayed in Genesis to provide Adam and Eve coverings of skin bore the penalty of God’s wrath against the sin which was committed by man; Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, who lived a wholly righteous, pure and holy life, in whose mouth was found no guile, vicariously bore the sins of humanity is his own body. The bible says he became sin for us and also that He bare our sins in his own body. God provided the ultimate sacrifice that would satisfy his wrath against all sin for those who accept his redemptive work on the cross.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:10-21 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

 Jesus Christ did all of the work necessary for our salvation. As God manifest in the flesh, He lived the holy and perfectly obedient life required by the Word of God-He lived victorious over sin. Through Calvary’s cross he bore the sins of all of humanity, taking them upon himself. He then yielded to the penalty of sin, not his own but ours, by paying sins wage – death. He went to the grave and surrendered his body there for a designated predetermined amount of time. As he promised before his death, three (3) later he rose again with all power in heaven and earth in His hands! God through Jesus Christ, for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily(Colossians 2:9), defeated EVERY enemy to man, sin, death, hell and the grave!

We no longer have to live in bondage to sin. After Paul expressed his utter despair concerning his struggle with and constant defeat by sin he made a desperate cry: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? – Romans 7:24

There is hope in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1-4 states:

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The provision of God of salvation through Jesus Christ breaks and utterly destroys that horrible bondage of sin we are born into. Our salvation is totally dependent upon what Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary’s cross. There is absolutely nothing we can bring to the table to add to our salvation. As Adam and Eves self provision was insufficient and dismissed by God and replaced with his provision, our perceived righteousness or goodness is woefully insufficient to merit any contributions toward our redemption from sin.

We are not equal partners with God in our salvation. We are helpless and without hope outside of Jesus Christ. For without him we can do nothing. Yet, we are complete in him. Please do not be deceived into feeling that there is some ‘good’ in us that we bring to God that mingled with his redemptive work ensures our salvation.

As a distressed vehicle is helpless on the side of the road incapable of moving under its own power, and is lifted and brought to where it needs to go to be fixed, repaired and made new after a call for help is made, we too are helpless, distressed on the road of life, incapable of getting to where we need to get to under our own power. The best we can do is call for help, with a broken, humble and contrite heart, and when Jesus arrives on the scene ensure that our heart is in neutral because we won’t need to drive under our own power anymore. We’re yielding our heart, and soul to the only one that can help us. Then let him hook himself to us, lifting us from our pit of despair through the power of his love, mercy and compassion. Then just let him take us to the his shop, The Potters House, where he will apply the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ to wash away our sins. We need only yield our heart to his Word and His redemptive work will do the rest.

John 3:1-7 Tells us how we must be born again. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

In Acts Chapter 2 We see this new birth process taking place as individuals are filled with the Holy Ghost and baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:1-4, 36-42 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance., 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The redemptive work of Jesus Christ as exercised on the cross of Calvary is enough to pay for our sins. There is no need to remain in that desperate struggle with sin. God’s love can lift you and bring you to wholeness and completeness in Him. Call him. Yield your heart and let the cross work for you.

 

 

 

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