Saturday, April 30, 2011
There seems to be a bit of confusion about how the death and resurrection of Jesus affects us, and how we are to live as a result.
Hebrews tell us that Jesus was a high priest according to the order of Melchizadek, and that therefore he was an eternal high priest, representing men to God and God to men. The author to the Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus was also the Lamb of God, sent to be the sacrifice for the sins of mankind. So the great high priest offered the perfect sacrifice for sin.
The Old Testament tells us that when the sacrifice was offered up for the sins of the people, the priest placed his hands on the head of the animal, thus symbolizing its being the representative of men. This is what being a sacrifice means. The animal took the guilt and shame of the people and in its death atoned for the sins of the people.
The New Testament tells us that this is precisely what Jesus did. He was a perfect sacrifice, who became sin on our behalf, died because of that sin, and, because he died for sin, we no longer need to.
However, if Jesus had stayed dead in his/our sins, we would still be lost, and we would still need to die because of our sin. Jesus’ death would have been impotent to protect us from the wrath of God. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. God raised him up as a proclamation that he had accepted Jesus’ death on our behalf. He became our propitiation. God’s wrath was turned away.
This means that we do not need to die because of our sins. But does this mean that we can sin up a storm because Grace reigns? Should we sin all we want because Jesus’ death covered our sins? Is grace the kind of thing that grows the more we sin, and therefore should we sin all the more, so that Grace might fill the earth?
Paul answered that exact question in Romans 6. The death Jesus died was a representative death. This means that when he died we died. When he died to sin, we died to sin. When Jesus was raised from the dead, we were raised in him. Because he lives to the glory of God with new life, we live for the glory of God with new life. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, we may no longer live in them. We have been raised with Christ and we must live as Christians, with a new name, a new direction, a new goal, and a new allegiance. Christ was raised, and we have been raised. Sin no longer has mastery over us; instead we are servants of the Lord of glory. Now we live, striving to love and serve the one who loved us and gave himself up for us.
And this reminds us of our need to confess our sins. Please kneel if you are able.