Monday, December 17, 2012

The Price Of Sin

The Price Of Sin

What has gone before...

Sin makes shipwreck of our lives on earth, destroying joy and peace, ruining relationships and stealing wealth and property. But sin also reaches beyond our natural life, condemning us to a spiritual death, eternity apart from God and His goodness.

Sin - disobedience and dishonor, adoration for creatures and things rather than the Creator - ruins our heart for God. We become His enemy.

Our only hope is being saved: delivered and protected by God from the effects of our sin.

God desires that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, but the word "all" has a condition: all who are called by God, all who have their spiritual eyes opened by God, all who desire to be saved.

"All" means all people who seek Jesus Christ as their Deliverer.

Moving on...

"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV)

One of the most important words in this verse is "mediator".

MEDIATOR: mesites (a go-between, an internunciator - an envoy or diplomatic representative - or a reconciler; an intercessor); from mesos (middle); from meta (accompaniment, "amid", association or succession)

Christ Jesus, a man, was the go-between for God and people. He was God's representative, sent by God to bring reconciliation with sinful, ruined creatures. Christ was able to live "amid" heaven and earth...the perfect divine diplomat.

Christ was not the first mediator between God and men.

"Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary." Galatians 3:19 (ESV)

"Intermediary" is the same Greek word as "mediator".

God promised salvation to Abraham, but because of sin, God delivered the Law through an intermediary, Moses, 430 years after the Abrahamic promise. Moses was God's mediator on behalf of Law. Christ was God's mediator on behalf of Grace.

Typically, a mediator is required in time of war, when the leaders of one country desire to come to terms of peace with a group of leaders from another country. Conflict is emotional. The more people involved in the discussion, the higher the potential for misunderstanding, confusion and anger. Mediation typically allows the intentions of a group to be communicated clearly and calmly by a single voice.

Mediation implies conflict resolution between groups.

Paul recognized this implication.

"Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one." Galatians 3:20 (ESV)

God is one Being, yet requires a mediator to effect reconciliation with people. Why cannot God negotiate directly with His Creation? God requires a mediator because humanity forms a group that needs a single representative, someone from "amid" their own level, someone intimately acquainted with human desires, attitudes and behavior. God requires a mediator which with which humanity can fully identify with.

Moses and Jesus were both mediators between God and people, because humans need a single representative, a single voice to support the desires and needs of humanity before God.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? In your worship and prayer, how do you most often regard Jesus Christ: as divine or as human? Does He seem to be a true representative of you and your needs? Is the doctrine of Christ's humanity essential to your understanding of salvation and Christianity?

Moses and Jesus both were divine mediators, but Jesus was the better.

"For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God...The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, - You are a priest forever. - This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them...For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens...For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:18-19, 21-26, 28 (ESV)

The Law served to convict and convince people of their sin, but it did nothing toward enabling people to stop sinning. Reconciliation with God became possible only when a representative of humanity took upon himself the just wrath of God for our sin, yet at the same time won for us honor because of his perfect righteousness.

"He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:15 (ESV)

RANSOM: antilytron (a redemption-price); from anti (opposite, intead or because of) and lytron (something to loosen with, atonement); from lyo (to "loosen"

All crime, all sin, involves the theft of something valuable. Many crimes can be resolved, reconciliation may often be won, by simply returning the thing stolen, or by trading something of equal or higher value.

But what price can be determined for life? What price for honor, for purity, for innocence, for security, for joy? If I have stolen someone's dignity, or if I have destroyed someone's health or taken their life, what price will satisfy that debt?

Each one of us has stolen something of value from another person, many times. And each one of us has stolen from God. We've refused Him honor and obedience. We've scorned His reputation and doubted His goodness. As a group of sinners, what price can the crimes of humanity demand for ransom?

Christ gave Himself as the price for our sin.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." Galatians 3:13 (ESV)

CURSE: katara (imprecation, execration); from kata (down) and ara (prayer, as lifted to Heaven; an imprecation); from airo (to lift, to take up or away, to raise, keep in suspense, sail away or weigh anchor)

Prayer can be positive or negative. One can pray FOR someone, or one can pray AT someone. To "imprecate" literally means to "pray at" someone, to beg that God send something evil or harmful upon another person. To "execrate" means literally "out-sacred", to declare someone to be the complete opposite of sacred, completely dirty and disgusting.

What price did God set upon humanity's crime and sin? Evil and harm, disgust and disregard. Our sin, to God, was the equivalent of throwing dung and vomit into His face. Our ransom, then, was to be of the same sort: beaten, stripped and displayed on a cross for public mockery and torture.

That was the curse which Jesus accepted on our behalf.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? What human sins could qualify as a completely dirty and disgusting offense to God? Do you feel that you have an accurate perception of how God regards your sins? What benefit is there in examining our sins and estimating their "price"?

Paul adds an intriguing description of the gospel, saying that Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all, "which is the testimony given at the proper time." (1 Timothy 2:6)

This description appears again in Paul's letter to Titus. Paul states that eternal life was promised by God before the ages began and was,

" the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” Titus 1:3 (ESV)

Although promised ages ago, and suggested many times in the Old Testament, Christ as Savior and Life-Giver, was not revealed in the flesh until the coming of Jesus and the subsequent preaching by His apostles. This revelation was "at the proper time" in history, as determined by God.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul described God's power of predetermination as "fullness of time", comparing those whom He chooses for salvation as "children":

"The heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." Galatians 4:1-5 (ESV)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Looking back at your conversion, the time you realized and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, does it now seem to have happened at "just the right time" in your life? What was going on in your life while you were coming to Christ? How does your conversion experience support the doctrine of God's sovereignty and foreknowledge?

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