From Desiring God:
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. — Romans 3:25 (ESV)
Continuing from our post yesterday, we are looking further at the death of Jesus and why it matters so much to us today. There are two sides to the death of Jesus, namely: It is a just act and it is a loving act.
The reason it is a just act is because God is just and the punishment for sin demands a price. After all, in Deuteronomy 6:5 it says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” That is a high standard that no one has achieved. It’s not that we don’t try to achieve that, it’s that we can’t fully. Sin itself is preferring something else to God, and we do it all the time in the choices we make. We show our love is greater for other things rather than for God. That is why the Bible also says in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So what is that price? The price is death and punishment. In Fifty Reasons Why Christ Suffered and Died, John Piper says “[S]in is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.”
If God were to brush sin aside or put it under the rug, it would make Him smaller and make him less worthy of worship. But God is at war with sin and has made clear through the Bible what that means. “For the wages of sin is death” it says in Romans 3:23 and “The soul that sins shall die” it says in Ezekiel 18:4. Clearly there is a consequence to sin, and justice is demanded from a holy God.
I think about this a lot because I think there a lot of people who look at Christianity as living daily to deny yourself some pleasure without going any further. C.S. Lewis addresses this kind of thinking in The Weight of Glory when he says that we are far too easily pleased, settling for the temporal joys of this world instead of striving for the eternal pleasures that we are offered through Jesus Christ. Because we don’t understand the magnitude of pleasure in Jesus, we don’t understand why we need to hate our sin. Timothy Keller, in Counterfeit Gods, does a great job explaining why this matters:
“In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose it’s attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us – seeing what it cost him to save us fom sin – we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”
Anything that keeps me from achieving the greatest amount of joy (in Christ) — my sin — is not something I want to protect but instead should be hated and left behind.
“Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression? The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past. . . . Never look back at your sins again. Say, ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ.’ That is your first step. Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you. What you need is not to make resolutions and to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! You just begin to say, ‘I rest my faith on Him alone, who died for my transgressions to atone.'”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 35.
HT: Zach Nielsen
Matt Chandler, pastor at The Village Church in Texas, is preaching through a series called “The Great Cause.” During this past Sunday’s message, “The Reason,” he spoke about how we really aren’t good at all, pointing to God loving us way more than we deserve. One part of the message I thought was particularly apt was when he talked about how our sins keep us from God.
In Isaiah 59:2 it says: “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” When we are fallen we try to make secondary things in our lives the primary thing. The excerpt below is stinging in our church culture.
From Of First Importance:
“Suppose a man should come to his dinner table, and there should be a knife laid down, and it should be told him, ‘This is the very knife that cut the throat of your child!’ If the man would use this knife as a common knife, would not everyone say, ‘Surely this man had but very little love to his child, who can use this bloody knife as a common knife!’
Look upon the cross on which Christ was crucified, and the pains He suffered thereon—and the seeming sweetness which is in sin, will quickly vanish. When you are solicited to sin, cast your eye upon Christ’s cross; remember His astonishing sufferings for your sin, and sin will soon grow distasteful to your soul. How can sin not be hateful to us—if we seriously consider how hurtful it was to Jesus Christ?”
—Thomas Brooks, “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures”