I have a confession to make. I’m a sinner. I know that’s shocking but it gets worse. You are a sinner as well. In fact, according to the Bible we are all double sinners. Here is what I mean by double sinner. First we are born sinners with a sinful nature. The Bible tells us in Romans 5 that the sin of Adam and Eve passed on to us a sinful nature. We are born with a propensity to sin and rebel against God.
Not only are we sinners by birth, we are also sinners by choice. Let’s be honest. Even if Adam’s sin hadn’t passed on a sinful nature to us, we’ve all chosen to sin at times. We have sinned in ignorance and we have sinned in rebellion. What I mean is that there are times when we have sinned and not realized that what we were doing was contrary to God’s Law. There have also been times when we have known full well what God’s Law said and chose to do the opposite. We are all double sinners.
One of the reasons it is important for us to know this is because sin separates us from God and brings us under the wrath of God. But God doesn’t want us to live and die separated from Him. He wants us to have eternal life and be able to know Him, experience His presence now and for all eternity. Since God is righteous and just He cannot just excuse sin and allow us into His presence. Instead sin must be punished and we must be holy before we can enter into His presence.
So something had to be done for us before we could have eternal life, know God and experience His presence. It’s important that we understand that something had to be done for us. We are unable to fix our sin problem. We can’t change our nature and we can’t make ourselves pure and holy. Something had to be done FOR us. That something was Jesus.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6 (NKJV)
The Bible says here that Jesus died for us because we were “without strength.” This phrase is one word in the Greek, and is translated in various ways, “helpless”, “powerless”, “utterly helpless” and “weak”. This word usually describes physical weakness or helplessness, or the inability to do something. However, here it refers to spiritual weakness, or inability to change our nature.
Unfortunately many people today think they are okay with God and have access to God because…
They are good people who do good things for others.
They belong to and attend church.
They have been baptized and confirmed.
They have never done anything considered really bad.
For the most part these are good things. The world would be a much better place if everyone lived good, decent and moral lives. But these things do not make us okay with God and they do not give us access to God. Only Jesus and His death on the cross make us right with God and give us access to God. We can only know God and experience His presence because of what Jesus has done for us.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,” Hebrews 10:19-20 (NKJV)
When we read this we see that we have access to the Most Holy Place because of what Jesus has done for us. The message of these verses is that Jesus took our sin, guilt and punishment on the cross. It means that Jesus’ death frees us from sin, guilt and judgment. It means that Jesus’ death opened up the way for us to enter into God’s presence.
“let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”. Hebrews 10:22 (NKJV)
The original readers of this letter would have recognized this as a reference to the ceremonial cleansing that the priests had to go through before they could enter the sanctuary of the Temple. When the priest’s went into the sanctuary they had to wash with water in order to be ceremonially clean. They also had to be sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice that had been slain to pay the penalty for their sins. After they had done this they were able to enter the sanctuary.
In the same way, before we can enter into the presence of God we must be washed and sprinkled as well. Our washing and sprinkling are not physical acts that we do to allow us into God’s presence. They are things that are done to us because of our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. The many Old Testament sacrifices were symbolic of the one perfect sacrifice that Jesus would make on our behalf. Therefore because of His death on the cross for our sins, the way into God’s presence is now open to us (See Hebrews 10:10-12). The washing with water was symbolic of what the Holy Spirit does in our lives when we are saved.
“not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” Titus 3:5-6 (NKJV)
So because of Jesus death, the penalty for our sins has been paid for, and we can be cleansed from our sins. What is really great about this is that what Jesus did for us on the cross has the power to remove the deepest, darkest stain of sin in our lives.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)
Crimson was the color of a deep-red permanent dye, and its deep stain was virtually impossible to remove from clothing. The stain of sin seems equally permanent, but because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, sin’s stain can be removed from our life and we can know God and experience His presence.
What we must recognize from all of this is the incredible desire that God has for us to know Him in a real and personal way and experience His presence. No one could have made God do this. No one could have made Jesus die such an awful death on the cross. He willingly chose to do this for you and for me. He did this so that our sins could be forgiven, so that we could be pure and holy and so we could know Him in a real and personal way and experience the presence of God.
We cannot understand what happened on the cross and think that God is some sort of impersonal force.
We cannot understand what happened on the cross and think that God is a being that is way up there and has no concern over what happens in our lives down here.
We cannot understand what happened on the cross without recognizing that the Most High God loves us, wants us to know Him and a real and personal way and wants us to experience His presence. To think anything else is to demean what Jesus did on the cross.