Posted by: missionventureministries | September 23, 2012


“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” – 1 Peter 3:18 

In reading Hebrews 10:1-4 we see the Mosaic Law’s inability to provide true atonement for sin and Christ’s sacrifice once and for all. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4).  Verse 4 tells us that bulls, goats, sheep and other animals used, no matter how spotless or without blemish they might be, cannot truly stand in for human beings before God because they are not made in His image and cannot authentically represent men and woman.  

The Lord did accepted animal sacrifices from His people under the old covenant as a means of postponing His wrath (Leviticus 1; 4 and 16), but the sins of the people were not actually removed by these animals, but showed the people that the high price of death and shed blood had to be paid to cover their sin. Even though God preached the gospel for centuries leading up to the birth of Jesus, they did not yet fully understand that the only death that could pay for their sins would be the death of God’s Son in their place; but they did realize that life had to be given for atonement. God left these sins unpunished in anticipation of the day in which He would judge them in Christ. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Romans 3:25)  

The sacrificial system was instituted not to cover sin but to point us to the One who satisfied His Father’s wrath on the cross. Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But Christ, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11-13) 

God has ordained that only those walking in obedience to Him can have eternal life; only men and women who serve God actively and submissively enjoy the true blessings of life. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:18-21) 

We must have a substitute who obeyed our heavenly Father, a substitute who has put God’s law into practice perfectly. Peter tells us that when “Christ suffered once for sins,” it was “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus did not live merely without sin but was obedient as well. He purchased the righteousness that we need to be restored to fellowship with our Father. This righteousness is put on our accounts, it is imputed to us when we believe, so that the covenant obedience that gets us into heaven is not ours but Christ’s. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26). 

The life of Jesus is as important to our salvation as His death. He had to be “truly righteous”, triumphing where Adam failed. Christ purchased righteousness for us by resisting temptation and obeying His Father on every occasion (Matthew 4:1-11; 5:17-20; 27:22-23). 

Peter points to Christ to illustrate the nobility of suffering according to the will of God, which was consummated in resurrection. Though Christ was just, sinless and righteous, He suffered for the sins of the unjust. His suffering brought us to God and we are made presentable on the basis of His atoning death. Though put to death in the flesh, Christ was made alive by the Spirit, which gives us reason to patiently endure our own suffering.

We need to understand that Jesus’ death on the cross was a reconciliatory event. The purpose of Christ’s death was to reconcile people back to God. He re-initiated a relationship between God the Father and the believer because of His death; since apart from Christ we are cut off from God. Every person who is born is a sinner and not part of God’s family, and the only way that we can be adopted into God’s family and become His children is by trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We must be righteous to have a relationship with God, and Jesus put Himself in our place on the cross, for we deserved to suffer eternal punishment and He offered His righteousness to us if we would but receive it.

Therefore, righteousness is imputed apart from the law, in order to help us understand that it is not the law, but the forgiveness we have in Christ, that makes us righteous in the sight of God. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)


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