Jesus Our Sinless Sacrifice

Christian theology explains in succinct statements that it is Jesus that overcomes sin and death (; 16:20; ). Since it was Jesus who was promised to die for sin, then it is true we cannot die for our own sin. Our sin produces death (), yet we cannot live purely enough in life nor die enough in our death to pay for our sin (). This is humanity under the fall, our sinful flesh.

One theologian explains flesh in the Pauline sense of the word often refers to the actual form of our humanity under the fall, and Scripture asserts that Christ assumed human, fallen, and sinful flesh. “That must mean that the flesh he assumes is not to be thought of in some neutral sense, but as really our flesh. He has come to redeem us, to destroy our sin in human flesh; and therefore he becomes what we are that he might raise us up to where he is.” This is an appeal to the patristic notion of the “wonderful exchange,” whereby Christ becomes what we are so that we may become what he is. Such an understanding necessitates an understanding the Son’s assumption of a fallen human nature. This fallen, sinful flesh is referred to as the “House of Bondage” which Christ’s obedience turned into the “House of God,” the place where God dwells.
In order to make sense of this point we must, along with Herman Ridderbos, insist that ‘in approaching the Pauline doctrine of sin, we must not orient ourselves in the first place to the individual and personal, but to the redemptive-historical and collective points of view.’ In light of such Pauline texts as ; ; , and , we must view sin as the supra-individual mode of existence in which one shares before we see it as an individual act. By viewing sin in this Pauline way, we can more fully see how it was that Christ could ‘be sin for us’ (), that is, assume a sinful human nature, and yet remain perfectly sinless.

John Owen explains it this way:

The body is not only doomed to death by reason of original sin, as death entered upon all on that account; but the body must be brought to death, that sin may be rooted out of it. Sin has taken such a close, inseparable habitation in the body, that nothing but the death of the body can make a separation. The body must be dead because of sin. … Here lies the great mystery of the grave under the covenant of grace, and by virtue of the death of Christ. … A secret virtue shall issue out from the death of Christ unto the body of a believer laid in the grave, that shall eternally purify it, at its resurrection, from every thing of sin.

Be not afraid to enter into darkness: as there is no sting in death, so there is no darkness in the grave. It is but lying so long in the hands of the great Refiner [Jesus}, who will purge, purify, and restore you. Therefore, lie down in the dust in peace.

Owen explains elsewhere:

We cannot die for sin. Our hope and faith is, in and through him, that we shall never die for sin. No mortal man (unbelieving person) can be made like unto Christ in suffering for sin. Those that undergo what he underwent, because they were unlike him, must go to hell and be made more unlike him to eternity.

And this:

 

Even death itself brings a terror with it, that nothing can conquer but faith; I mean, conquer duly. He is not crowned, that does not overcome by faith. It is only to be done through the death of Christ, he “freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (). There is no deliverance that is true and real, from a bondage-frame of spirit [with reference] to death, but by faith in Christ.


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Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. (ESV)


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55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)


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14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (ESV)


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15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV)


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23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23 (Listen

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23 (Listen)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)


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For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)


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For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (ESV)


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who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)


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15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (ESV)

What Sin Requires

Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

Death is the end of sin (; ). Sin has entangled into humanity to such an extent that death is required to rip it out. Sin is a part of humanity’s DNA. You cannot be human and not not sin. In other words, if you are human (and if you are reading this, I assume you are human!), you sin because you are a sinner. You cannot never sin. This is why we must all die; because we are sinners by nature, by our corrupted humanity, by our DNA.

The great Puritan thinker, John Owen, says it this way:

“The body is not only doomed to death by reason of original sin, as death entered upon all on that account; but the body must be brought to death, that sin may be rooted out of it. Sin has taken such a close, inseparable habitation in the body, that nothing but the death of the body can make a separation. The body must be dead because of sin. … Here lies the great mystery of the grave under the covenant of grace, and by virtue of the death of Christ. … A secret virtue shall issue out from the death of Christ unto the body of a believer laid in the grave, that shall eternally purify it, at its resurrection, from every thing of sin.

Be not afraid to enter into darkness: as there is no sting in death, so there is no darkness in the grave. It is but lying so long in the hands of the great Refiner [Jesus}, who will purge, purify, and restore you. Therefore, lie down in the dust in peace.”

And this is why Jesus came, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, fulfilled the whole law God required of humanity, paid the penalty of sin by dying on the cross, was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and is seated now representing us in Heaven with glorified body.


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23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)


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15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV)

Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive. … He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near. … On Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer conducted a little service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the hart of all of us. He found just the right words to express the spirit of our imprisonment, the thoughts and the resolutions it had brought us. He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered. They said, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.” That had only one meaning for all prisoners–the gallows. We said good-bye to him. He took me aside: “This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life.” The next day he was hanged in Flossenburg.

The text on which he spoke on that last day was “With his stripes are we healed.”

Such was the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer–a teacher of the Church in the highest sense of the word, a writer of profound theological and Biblical insight and yet close to contemporary life and sensitive to reality, a witness who saw the way of discipleship and walked it to the very end. from the Introduction pages 12-13 of Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

I die trusting alone in the forgiving mercy of God

As far as my last words can influence anyone, I would advise husbands and wives to strive by all possible means to make their homes virtuous and happy. To young men and women I would say, be warned by my fate; avoid bad company; shun evil associations in every form, for surely the way of the transgressor is hard. And, ye Christian people, do not neglect the orphan child, which by death has been thrown upon the world’s cold charities. Look after the other children. Instruct them in the ways of piety, [and by] your kindness and example, lead them to the Saviour of sinners. …

… And here I ask forgiveness of all whom I have ever injured in any way, and may God forgive me as I feel I have forgiven all who have ever injured me in any possible way or manner.

Now I feel I am ready to die, having made these my last remarks to you all.

I die trusting alone in the forgiving mercy of God; relying on the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinful men. Though as a poor wicked sinner, I cannot but indulge the hope that God will save me from eternal death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Farewell, farewell, a long farewell! Pray that God may forgive my poor soul.

~John Cruver — 1862
NY Times – An Execution in New-Jersey.; JOHN CRUVER SUFFERS THE EXTREME PENALTY OF THE LAW FOR MURDERING ALLEN SKELLINGER.

[Music] When Death Dies

Like the waters flooding the desert
Like the sunrise showing all things

Where it comes flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies all things live
Where it comes poor men feast
Kings fall down to their knees
When death dies all things live
All things live

Like a woman searching and finding love
Like an ocean buried and bursting forth

Where it comes flowers grow
Lions sleep, gravestones roll
Where death dies all things come alive
Where it comes water’s clean
Children fed
All believe
When death dies all things live
All things live