October 7, 2016

Sin and sins

Every now and then the news brings a story of a crime so horrendous that I cannot even think about it, not the crime or the mindset of the person who committed it. My imagination may try, but is deeply repulsed and turns to better things. This morning, reading this verse along with Chambers’ devotional connects the horror that repulses me to the Savior who redeemed me . . .

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Chambers noted that this verse says “sin” not “sins” and points out that ‘sins’ refers to doing wrong, and ‘sin’ refers to being wrong.

He says that being wrong shows up in a deliberate and emphatic independence of God, then adds that Christian teaching confronts this radical nature and source of sin. Other religions may deal with sins, but only the Bible deals with sin.

The difference is significant. If a creature is a pig, dressing it up to look like another animal will not change its nature. If a human being is sin-filled and tied to a post so no sins can be actually committed their nature of sin remains. We sin because we are sinners, not the other way around.

That said, I’ve thought many times what it must have been like for Jesus to bear the sins of the world. However, this is a different thought. Chambers says Jesus “took upon Himself the heredity of sin” bearing not only all our evil deeds, but for those horrible hours on the cross, He also bore all that we are — He became sin for us.

What does that mean? Did the raging horror of every evil thing that every human being plots and imagines and performs rage through Him in such a way that He could not turn from it? If that happened, or even worse, it is no wonder that He died.

I can scarcely go into these thoughts. He identified with me in my sinfulness, and not only me but with every sinner, even those whose sins are utterly horrendous. It was not sympathy that made Him do it but a love so deep that He was willing to become what we are — that we might become like He is.

The work of Christ on the cross was to reverse the curse, to put humanity back where God created us to be — people made in His image. By faith we become new creatures, creatures in which the power of sin that hides that image is defeated.

Yes, He loves us and wants to remove our guilt and shame over what we have done, but He did this that we might experience a new life, a life where that sin nature is struck a deadly blow and will eventually be totally overcome by the righteousness of God.

I commit sinful thoughts, words, deeds, but because of Jesus, my nature was changed, is being changed, and will never be the same as it once was. Because of Jesus, my own sinful past deeply repulses me yet I’m humbled that none of it made headlines. Because of Jesus, I can claim His righteousness as my own, just as He claimed my sin (and my sins) to set me free from their horror.

Chambers rightly says that no one can redeem themselves. This is God’s doing and it is finished, complete in Christ. Our part is simply to yield — to say yes to His evaluation of our need and yes to His provision that totally provides for it.

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