18 June 2012

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed..." - Romans 3.21

When Jesus Christ came to earth, it was the culmination of years of planning and hard work. The Jewish people up until then had been governed by law (See Exodus 20). Law that told them not to take God's name in vain, not to covet, to rest on the Sabbath, to honour their parents and so on. The ultimate purpose of the law was to show the Jews what was right in the eyes of God, and how to live in a way pleasing to Him.

The problem with the law was that it made it impossible for the Jews to live in a way pleasing to God. No matter how carefully they watched themselves and tried to do no wrong. All it took was one sin...and they'd stepped out of God's will and into judgement.

To escape the judgement that resulted from sin, sin offerings were given to God to make atonement. God would look at the offering and not make them pay the penalty for the sin, but it still didn't really deal with the problem. The offerings didn't deal with the sin, they covered it. On the outside, it looked as if there had been a change, but the real root of the sin, originating in mankind's heart remained.

Paul talked about the strange condition of the human heart in Romans 7.15, saying 'that I will to do, that I do not practise; but what I hate, that I do.'

So there were two problems that needed to be resolved;

1. No matter how hard everyone tried to do the right thing, they couldn't.
2. Even though God forgave the sins, the root of the problem remained; the sinful nature of man's heart.

So God created Jesus; fully God and fully man.When God created Jesus, He created Him to be the final sin offering. This meant that after Him, no-one, ever, would have to offer a sin offering. Jesus came to earth, blameless and sinless; perfect.

You see Jesus role as the final sin offering was to personally take on all the sins ever committed and ever to be committed and call them His own (2 Corinthians 5.21). Taking them on, Jesus would have to pay the penalty for sin that was not his own. Romans 6.23 tells us what the penalty for sin is; it's death.

Death in the physical sense, (if you look at Genesis and the record of the fall, it tells us that as a result of the fall sin and thus death entered the world), but not only that, death to God, and separation from all that pertains from Him, all that is good, all that is love, all that is hope, all that is faith; Hell, in short.

So when Jesus cried out on the cross ' elohi elohi, lama shavakhtani?' (Mark 15.34 - HNIV) He was experiencing Hell.

On our behalf.

But it was not the end. Jesus had been a willing sacrifice, fully God and fully man. He had descended into the very depths of Hell to account for all our sins, committed and to be committed, and then He rose again to overcome death, and show that the power that was in Him was stronger than sin, and stronger than death.

He did it so that every time we sin, we are rescued from our rightful punishment; eternal separation from God. So when God looks at us, where he should see sin, darkness, and evil, He sees the face of His son, who took all our punishment on His own back so that we would no longer have to be enslaved by sin, always doing the wrong thing and constantly falling short of God's standard, but instead could be righteous, relying on a power greater than our own.

God sent Jesus so that we would be free to achieve our full potential.

This was problem one dealt with, but God was still not finished.

Romans 10.9 tells us that everyone who believes God loves them and as a result sent His son to die for them is saved. When Jesus was on earth He spent time talking to people, He spent time showing them His character; what was important to Him and good in His sight. He spent time with all kinds of people, tax collectors, women that were having affairs...nobody was too low for Him. You see in doing this, Jesus was tapping in to people's hearts.

By nature, God is relational. He loves us, He talks to us. When Jesus was on earth He wanted us to get to know Him, so that we would in turn tell others about Him. He wanted us to get to know Him so that the more we got to know Him, the more we wanted to be like Him. He wanted to instigate a change of heart, so that instead of our inclination being to do things our way, and therefore sin against Him, our most earnest desire would be to behave in a way that would please Him.

And of course, even if our desire was to please Him, He knew, as I mentioned earlier, how hard it was for us to do the right thing without help from someone outside of us and more powerful than us to do so. So when Jesus left earth for heaven, He left us the Spirit of God (sometimes called the Holy Spirit), the third member of the trinity, so that we would be able to call out to God and receive help in time of need (Hebrews 4.16) and be able to do God's will.

'For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.' - Romans 8.14

Allow yourself to get to know Jesus, fall in love with Him and He will transform your life. It won't happen overnight, but you'll notice it. You'll no longer measure yourself by what you have done, can do, or what others tell you that you are, but instead will see yourself as God sees you; perfect and blameless in His sight. Your outlook on the world will change; you'll understand more clearly God's grace and what it means to be forgiven and forgive others. You'll be able to discern between what is good (of God) and evil (not of God), and you'll be able to love others as Christ has loved you.

God bless x

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