In recent years it has become increasingly popular to minimize the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. One of the best examples of this is the statement of a famous professing Christian. She said that several years ago in her “spiritual journey” she finally realized that Jesus’ death really wasn’t the main focus. Instead, it was the example He set of loving everyone and accepting everyone. In this view, Jesus came to be an example and not a sacrifice for our sins. That is not even close to the Biblical Gospel.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV)
\To believe properly about Jesus we must also believe that He died for your sins. Jesus death on the cross wasn’t the death of a martyr. It was the death of a substitutionary sacrifice. Through His death, Jesus satisfied God’s wrath against our sin, and paid the penalty it incurs. His sacrificial death is sufficient for the sins of everyone in the world.
When we start talking about Jesus dying for us people often want to know why? Why did Jesus have to die? The answer is sin. There is an unalterable law that says the wages of sin is death. This law cannot be altered, changed or bypassed.
Now some will say, “Doesn’t the Bible say that God is love? And if God is love, how can He punish sin?” While the Bible does teach that God is love, this is only part of who He is. He is also holy, righteous, and just. Since God is holy, no sin can inter into His presence. Since God is righteous, He cannot excuse sin. Since God is just, He must punish sin. Every sin must draw its wages, and that wage is death. The reason that Jesus had to die for us is that you and I have sinned and earned death.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
But what if I don’t feel as though I’ve sinned? What if I feel that I’m basically a good person that doesn’t deserve the death of a sinner? Those who feel this way, do so because they don’t understand sin and God’s standard for righteousness. In order to understand God’s standard for righteous, we need to identify what sin is.
“Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law.” 1 John 3:4 (HCSB)
The basic idea of sin is that sin is breaking God’s Law. As it is meant here, God’s Law basically refers to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments make up God’s standard to determine whether someone is guilty of sin. I’ve covered the Ten Commandments in a previous post if you want to take the time to review them. We have all broken God’s commandments and therefore we have all sinned and are guilty in the eyes of the Lord.
Not only have we all sinned, but also on our own we are totally unable to fix this problem. This problem requires help from outside of ourselves. There are a lot of ways we can change ourselves on the outside. We can develop disciplines. Follow moral philosophies. Become educated. Or learn new patterns of speaking and thinking. These things will modify your actions, but they don’t fix our problem. Why can we not fix this problem ourselves? Because our problem is not an outward problem, it is an inner problem. By our nature we are spiritually dead, and dead people are totally unable to help themselves in any way.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 (ESV)
All of us at one time were dead in our sin. Think about that for a second. We were not sin sick as some say. We were sin dead. It doesn’t get much clearer than that. All people apart from Jesus Christ are spiritually dead. All people. There are no exceptions to this rule whatsoever.
But God loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to stay in this state and suffer this punishment. What God wants is for us to have eternal life. He also wants to have a relationship with us for all of eternity. But our sin has separated us from Him. He didn’t want us to live our lives separated from Him. But because He is righteous, holy, and just, He cannot just excuse our sin He has to punish it. That is why Jesus had to die. He died to take the punishment for your sins. He died to take the punishment for my sins.
“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25 (NKJV)
Jesus died for us not because we were good, or because we deserved it. It was because we needed help that only He could provide and He loved us enough to provide it. Even though giving this help would cost Him His life. Now because of Jesus we can all go to God through Him.
By taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus makes it possible for us to be freed from the punishment for our sins. We are made right with God through faith that Jesus died in our place. This is the only way our sins can be forgiven. This is the only way we can have any sort of righteousness. Thi sis the only way we can have a relationship with God. This is the only way we can have eternal life. Any belief system that denies that Jesus died for your sins is fundamentally flawed and must be rejected.
For further study read Romans 3:21-28. Can we be made right (justified) with God through our good deeds? How do we have access to the righteousness of God? Can we boast at all about what we’ve done in our salvation? How are we made right (justified) with God?