Sin and salvation

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

Holy Week brings us face to face with two basic concepts of our faith. One is sin and the other is salvation.

The Bible tells us it all started with sin… the original sin at the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. Humanity inherited that propensity to sin. And death, physical and spiritual, is the punishment that goes with sin.

Their sin was not so much having eaten the forbidden fruit but believing the devil’s lie that by partaking of the fruit they can be like God. Sin of pride… the same sin that brought the devil his downfall.

Tony Evans, a theologian, described the wrath of God as His necessary, just and righteous retribution against sin. God must judge sin even if he takes no pleasure in punishing the unrighteous.

Ezekiel 33:11 says: “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

What is sin? The same theologian says that at the heart of sin is the desire to be independent of God, to do things our way… We don’t want to be answerable to Him… Any attempt on our part to be independent of God is an expression of sin.

John Stott, the Anglican priest and evangelist had this to say: “For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.”

How does God measure sin? Evans says He measures it against Himself. The Bible tells us we all fall short of God’s standards.

God doesn’t weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds or else like a teacher grades us on the curve. That’s how Jesus and the Cross came into the picture.

The atonement for our sins as God has prescribed is spelled out in Hebrews 9:22: “According to the law, one may almost say all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

But those animal sacrifices in the Old Testament are not enough to cover the sins of the world. There is only one perfect sacrifice able to redeem mankind and that is Christ Himself.

Sacrificing His own son is unthinkable. But as John 3:16 points out, God loved the world so much He gave His only Son, that all who believe in Him might have eternal life. Christ’s death on the cross on that Good Friday provided the blood atonement for our sins.

In 1 Peter 2:24, St. Peter declared that He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrificial substitute for the death our sins called for.

The good news is that God accepted Christ’s death as payment in full for our sins. “We were not a pretty sight to God,” as one theologian puts it, “but He loved us even at our worst.”

Romans 5:8-11 says: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him”

St Paul explains this gift of salvation in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2:

 “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.

“All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus…

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it…”  

What happens now? Romans 6:10-14 tells us how saved sinners should behave moving forward.

“He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts… For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace…”

The best part of Holy Week is Easter Sunday. It is said that without the resurrection, Christianity would be stillborn.

Dr. Evans pointed out that “without the resurrection, Christianity may still be a commendable way of life, but Jesus would be just another great teacher who lived His life and returned to dust. Christianity would not be the truth from God if Jesus did not rise from the dead.”  

As we go back to our daily lives, we need to tap into this resurrection power that is ours in Christ. Anyway, He did say: “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John15:5).

Happy Resurrection Day!

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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