Continued from Part III - The Ritual
There needed to be a way to remove the stain of moral and spiritual guilt. This method had to be a way that would cleanse us of totally from every sin. Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9:14-27 prophesied that the Coming Messiah would be the Great Atonement for all of our sins. Our Lord Jesus himself taught that He was that Messiah. (Matt. 26:28).
Isa. 53:10 (Sept.) states, "He (the Messiah) came in the likeness of sinful flesh because He was a sin offering." Isaiah is called the Old Testament Evangelist because of his vivid descriptions of Christ's suffering, atonement and reward. (Isa. 42:1-7, 53:1-12) Christ's soul was to be given as an offering for sin. This passage, with recurring reference to the Messiah as the "Servant of the Lord", proves that Isaiah, and probably other Israelites, believed that the Messiah would come as a suffering substitute with the goal of redeeming man. In ancient Israel, it was known that this passage was referring to the Messiah. More modern interpretations, which claim that the passage refers to the state of Israel rather than a man, fail to explain why the writer would refer to the state in the third person, and to the citizens in the first person. If modern interpreters were to be correct, it would only makes sense if the writer would have referred to all as the state.
Jesus’s is our sacrificial lamb, and His sacrificial death on the cross and blood spilled is the final and complete atonement for our sins. He was a sacrifice, not because his killers thought of him as such and were in a worshipful, repentant mode when they nailed him to the cross, but because He, without sin or blemish, went willingly to the cross. Jesus, in His heart, took all man's sin upon Himself and bore the punishment others deserved. He sacrificed Himself for man's sake. In Romans 8:3, (Sept.) "Amartia" is used to mean, "made sin," not a "sinner." The term "sinner" can never be used in reference to Christ, who is sinless and a "sin bearer". The term "sin" in reference to Jesus is abstract, without an article - an abstract noun for the concrete. Jesus is "made sin" for men in the same way men are "made righteous" for God: by a judicial act of God. And God, in His righteousness, accepted Jesus's bloody sacrifice of Himself.
This is hard for people of the 20th Century to understand. Man tries to comprehend the importance of the blood, but doesn't understand why it is important. But the blood isn’t for man in the first place; it is God that values the Blood. This is where man needs to have faith that the Blood is important simply because God says so.
According to Evangelist Watchman Nee, the Blood is meant to forgive and wash away sins in the lives of men. The cross is to do away with the power of sin in the lives of men. The Blood is an atonement, and sinners are forgiven not because God overlooks the sin, but because he sees the Blood. Therefore, the Blood is primarily for God, not for man.
It’s important to have faith AND clear conscience toward God, which can only come by the blood, and not anything else. Being extra kind or patient one day does not bring one closer to God. Man can never be good enough. The Blood is unchanging and is man's only hope for safe ground to stand on. The only important matter is that God values sacrificial, righteous blood shed.
The last aspect of the purpose for the Blood is the part “the accuser” plays. When Satan entered after the fall, man became separated from God. As long as sin was present in the life of man, God couldn’t be approached and Satan had a field day. Without atonement, God couldn’t do anything to help. He couldn’t come near. But the blood changed that. God can stand next to man now.
But the Blood doesn't “cleanse” hearts. The flesh is too bad for cleansing, and it must be thrown out, crucified, and replaced with a whole new heart. This is why the animal sacrifices alone were never adequate. Death and rebirth is still necessary. The old hearts were “sprinkled with an evil conscience”, and that caused a barrier between God and man. When man tried to approach God, he felt guilt and unworthiness. This is why man needs both the Blood and a death - a tossing out of that old heart so a new one could be put in its place. Man must die on the cross, with the Messiah, Jesus, in order to gain new life. When a sinner believes this from the Word and accepts Christ's gift of death into his heart, his conscience can be cleared and the guilt removed.
The Book of Romans shows us that
1. The Grace of God, our Divine Judge, is the giver and justifier of our full atonement.
2. The blood of Christ is the basis of our full atonement
3. Faith is the receptive organ for our full atonement
4. Justice and Grace will be the end result of our full atonement
Old Testament sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the redemption Jesus Christ was going to bring about on the cross. For reasons only God can fully understand, Christ's shed blood on the cross is a vitally important event, and the only event, which brings about reconciliation and atonement for all sinners who believe and receive it.