Friday, September 21, 2012

The Answer to Sin

Thank you for waiting my friends and readers.  The reasons some of my posts are so far apart are my health.  I prefer to write when I can give of my best to our Lord.  I have another blog where I write about my health issues Here.

My last post was about sin.  What it is and why we all are guilty.  As outlined in what was mostly a word study the situation appears quite hopeless.  But as I pointed out at the end all is not as hopeless as it seems.  We are told in the bible that God is love (1 John 4:8).  That being the case it would seem that he would do something about the hopeless situation of those who were created in his image (Gen. 1:27).  He did.    But how, how could this curse be lifted off us and salvation be made possible for everybody (2 Tim. 2:4).

The answer is really found in the Mosaic Law, where God’s standards for justice are outlined for us.  The foundational principle for God’s standard of justice is simply stated in the phrase “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Ex. 21:24).  This is a much misunderstood and maligned requirement which is often portrayed as barbaric today.  But in Moses’ day was nothing less than revolutionary in a Middle Eastern world where the penalty seldom matched the offense.  I’ll save the exposition on that for another day.

But the important thing to keep in mind as we progress in our study is the principle of equivalence.  Simply put punishment was equal to the crime.  In the case of theft the thief had to compensate the victim for both the value of what was stolen plus compensation for inconvenience and loss of income from his property in the case of that property, such as livestock, provided and ongoing income through shearing fur, birthing or fathering new livestock.  This was important in an agricultural society where such a loss over time wasn’t a minor inconvenience.

In other matters, such as if a man harmed his fellow in a serious way which impeded one’s ability to make a living or even killed them, an equal penalty was mandated.  All the way through the law this idea of an equivalent penalty is enshrined.  But the lesson for us is also driven home by another matter which God used to pave the way for our understanding of how our sins would be covered over for us.  That was in connection with Israel’s deliverance from bondage to Egypt.

The last penalty God imposed on the Egyptians in judgment for their failure to let the sons of Israel go was the death of their firstborn.  From the first born of the servants to that of Pharaoh himself, all died that Passover night (Ex. 11, 12).  Within the same three chapters of Exodus we find that the firstborn of the Israelis were spared death as long as their households held the Passover sacrifice and marked their doorways with the blood of the lamb.

After their liberation God reminded the children of Israel of what he did on their behalf and required that all firstborn, of both man and beast, as belonging to him (Ex. 13:1&2).  God required that every male firstborn Israeli be redeemed, that is a price paid to God to buy them back from him (Ex. 13:13).  God took the tribe of Levi as redemption for the firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:11-13), however, something curious happened.  When a registration and census was taken of Israel the tribe of Levi’s firstborn males were 273 less than the firstborn of the rest of Israel (Num. 3:14-43).  So God required Israel to pay five shekels to redeem each of the excess firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:44-51).  So in this little piece of history we see the principle of exact equivalence for redemption required.

That is what Jesus did for us and it is important for us to understand that in order to see how he redeemed us.  It becomes even clearer when we answer the question of what was lost.  That goes back to the Story of Adam and Eve and their fall from perfection (Gen. 2:4-3:24).  Another important thing to notice when you read that story, dear friend, is that the entire human sinful race, including Eve, came from Adam (2:21-25).  Although the rest of us don’t appear in the story we were still technically represented there as Adam’s potential unborn offspring in his loins since we all descend from him without exception.  So what was really lost was Adam’s life as a perfect human being.  That is why none of us could pay the redemption price for mankind, because none of us are the exact equivalent, the price required by God’s standards for justice.  That is where Jesus comes in.

In the last post I quoted a passage from Romans:

“So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” (Rom 5:18-19; ASV)

That, in a nutshell encapsulates God’s plan of redemption and the need for it as I just outlined.  It was through one man that sin entered the world, and one man had to pay the redemption price, the exact equivalent of what was lost.  That is what God’s justice has required, the life of an unblemished, sinless, perfect man to stand in for Adam and buy back the human race from sin.  Jesus’ life was miraculously transformed and transferred to Mary’s womb.  Jesus then became the second man exactly like Adam in every respect to walk the earth and he sacrificed his life to buy back humanity from its slavery to sin.

That this now applies to all of mankind, without exception, Paul mentioned to the young man Timothy in his second letter.  Earlier I pointed you, my dear readers, to 2 Tim. 2:4, which says “Who (That is, God) will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”  Now lets look at the verses which follow:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1Ti 2:5-6)

This is a powerful passage which gets misused by some to argue that all will ultimately be saved.  But when verse four, the context, is added and Revelation chapter twenty along with what we’ve learned are all brought to bear on the subject of salvation we see that what all are saved from is Adam’s sin and raised to “come unto the knowledge of the truth” and have the chance they never really had to have life eternal.

This is the essential doctrine of Christianity.  Every time Paul expounds on basic doctrine this is what we get, what we read in Romans chapter five and elsewhere.  He also speaks of a second hope for some, but that is a topic for another post.

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