Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One John One Nine - Part Three

Throughout the entire book of Hebrews we see the superiority and complete sufficiency of the finished work of Christ, and specifically in chapters 9 and 10 we read about all that was accomplished through the blood of Christ.  With His own blood, Jesus "obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12).  The blood of Christ cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14).  Heb 9:22 says "almost all things are purified with blood and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  In the Old Covenant, the blood of animals had to be offered often and yet never took away sin, but through one offering Jesus has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26).  In those Old Covenant sacrifices, "there is a reminder of sins every year, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb 10:3-4).  But our sin has been taken away, once and for all, with the blood of Jesus.  Through the one sacrifice we have been perfected forever (Heb 10:14).

The point in all of this is that our redemption, our cleansing, our purification was all accomplished through nothing but the blood of Jesus.  Through the blood, our sins have been taken away and we have been perfected forever.  Before we were saved by grace through faith, as sinners we could do absolutely nothing to clean ourselves up or to make ourselves righteous or forgiven.  Even if we behaved 'righteously' 99% of the time, it did absolutely nothing to make us clean and righteous, and to receive the forgiveness provided for us through the cross of Jesus Christ.  The only thing that made it possible for us to be cleansed and forgiven was the blood of Jesus.

Now, as saints who have received all of this freely, all of these things are factually true about us.  Even when we don't behave like who we truly, factually are, our unrighteous behavior does not negate what the blood of Jesus has accomplished.  We are not made unrighteous through our unrighteous behavior.  We don't become unclean. We don't lose the fact that all of our sins have already been dealt with and taken away.  We don't become 'unforgiven.'  We are in the light.  We do have fellowship with one another and with God.  Our actions don't cause us to lose fellowship with God.  It's all based, not upon our behavior, but upon the blood of Jesus.

To say that that's an important truth is to greatly under-exaggerate it!  In our lives in Christ, the economy that we live in is not based upon our behavior, but upon the finished work of Christ.  His blood has accomplished what our behavior never could, and so to say that our behavior can negate what His blood did is to "trample the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant by which we've been sanctified as a common thing, and to insult the Spirit of grace" (see Heb 10:29).

What John writes in the first chapter of his first epistle does not fit into the Christian life.  It does fit the truth that can be told an unbeliever to show him how he may come into the light, have fellowship with God, practice the truth and to receive the forgiveness provided for him at the cross and be cleansed of all sin.

The believer is already in the light.  "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness" (1 Thess 5:5).  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord" (Eph 5:8).  The believer already has fellowship with God.  "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9).  "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor 6:17).  "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (Rom 7:4).

The believer is already forgiven and cleansed of all sins:
"But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor 6:11).

"And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins'" (Matthew 26:27-28).

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7-8).

"I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name" (1 John 2:12).

"...then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin" (Heb 10:17-18)

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).
Look especially at those last two verses.  They both essentially say, "forgive others because God has already forgiven you."  It's no longer, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt 6:14-15).  That was before the cross.  Now, after all that has been accomplished through the blood of Jesus, we're exhorted to forgive others because in Christ, God has forgiven us.  We don't forgive to get forgiven.  We forgive because we've been forgiven.

As a saint, you are pure, holy, righteous, clean, forgiven.  That's who you are.  So what do we do when we don't behave as who we are?  If confession of sins is not the answer, then how do we respond when we miss the mark?  I'll get into that in the fourth and final part of this series.

In the meantime, I love linking to this blog post from Bino Manjasseril: Dismantle the Confession Booths.  He posted this almost three years ago and I still go back and refer to it often.  It's a scripture-only post that shows how we've already been completely forgiven, redeemed, cleansed, made complete, made alive with Christ, made righteous, etc.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

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