The sin condition of the heart entered the world through one man (Adam). This form of the word for “sin” is a noun in the Greek and appears nearly four times more often than the verb in the New Testament. Death entered through this “sin condition” and it spread to all men, because the noun would lead to sinful actions, since all have sinned (verb). Jesus came to destroy and take away the sin of the world, the condition that resulted in everyone being identified as sinners, as inherited through Adam. Through one sacrifice at the cross, God dealt with and resolved the sin problem forever; both the sinful nature and the sinful actions. If this was not the case, Jesus would need to keep suffering repeatedly, and the cross would have to be considered inadequate. Fortunately for us, His one-time shedding of blood was more than enough, and now the issue is simply choosing to believe in order to receive the new nature of righteousness within our hearts.
Religion without life, will seek to pursue a right-standing with God through attempts of self-improvement, and a variety of other works-based methods. Even within Christianity, belief systems will try to make this all about our ability to make ourselves progressively more sanctified and acceptable before a perfect and holy God. The problem with this? We can’t attain a more righteous position than what God has already brought to us through His Son. The standard God demanded was perfection, but not by giving it our best effort to keep certain commandments or other moral codes that will always fall short. Jesus is alive, accepted, perfect, holy, sanctified, righteous, and sinless… And as believers in Christ, “as He is, so also are we in this world.”
Throughout Christianity, the word “gospel” can mean many different things to different people. Ultimately, it boils down to “good news” that was first meant for the nation of Israel. The news they needed to hear was that a replacement of the law and commandments was about to occur. What would it take its place? Faith, righteousness, forgiveness, holiness and sanctification would be gifted to people apart from our own works. Where are these things found? Not through our efforts of obedience, but in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the replacement and our destination. We have arrived “in Him” through belief in what He has completely finished on our behalf.
The past few weeks we’ve been discussing our identity in Christ and how God has already perfected us, made us complete in Him, and gifted us with His righteousness. Works-based religion will still try to find a way to put some sort of responsibility back on us, such as with the subject of sanctification. To be sanctified means to be set apart, and the gospel shows us it cannot be defined outside of what Jesus did for us on our behalf. As with justification and forgiveness, sanctification is not progressive, but was included in Christ’s finished work. We can rest in that assurance.
Many Christians have been taught they are living with two natures; one that is holy and righteous, and another that is sinful. At the very least, this is misleading and at the most it’s just plain erroneous. One who has come to belief in Christ, born in the newness of life and given a new heart, cannot also have a nature of evil dwelling within the spirit of the inner man. Confusion occurs when we define the flesh as a sinful nature, and some of this stems from a popular Bible translation using the phrase "sinful nature," although it has been revised in many instances since 2011. Believers are not defined as sinners with a nature to match - we are now described as partakers of the divine nature.
The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus had never sinned, yet He became sin. Likewise, we didn’t come to a place of acceptable behavior, yet we’ve been declared and identified as righteous. Jesus didn’t become sin progressively over a long period of time, neither is the gift of righteousness something that occurs progressively. We died with Him and rose to newness of life. As a believer in Jesus Christ, whatever struggles you continue to endure, it doesn’t spiritually define who you are as a holy child of the living God. Jesus put away sin once and for all by the sacrifice of Himself.
If we went into the vast majority of Christian churches and asked for a show of hands on how many in attendance consider themselves to be righteous and holy, typically very few hands would go up. Why? They haven’t been taught about their new identity as a child of God. They are ignorant on the subject of God’s righteousness, and much like the Israelites, they may even be trying to establish their own right standing with God through their works. It’s a good thing to behave in a way that reflects godliness and be an example to others. But this is the result of coming to a revelation of how God has provided us with His total acceptance. We aren’t meant to dedicate “our lives” to Him, He has fully committed His life to us. The gospel is not about our doing, but rather it’s about what Christ did. For us, it’s about “being,” while resting in His gift and living out of response to that.
It has kept people in fear and bondage - the belief that confessing individual sins is needed to receive a renewed forgiveness from God, or to maintain fellowship with Him. It weakens the truth in our minds that the blood of Jesus Christ brought forgiveness by taking away the sin of the world, once and for all. This week we discuss some thoughts in common sense fashion regarding our position in Christ, and why as believers we should recede from this practice of confessing sins when it comes to seeking forgiveness from God. As a new creation, your confession can focus on your identity in Him as being a righteous and holy child of God.
Continuing our series about the misunderstood Bible verse of 1 John 1:9, we take a look at this specific verse as we consider the context leading up to it. John was writing to people who denied Jesus came in the flesh, that they had ever sinned, and that sin didn’t even exist. He couldn’t have been addressing Christians in this first chapter, who would’ve previously admitted a sin problem and the need for a savior. We find what John addressed actually syncs with something the Apostle Paul wrote on the subject of confession. Not the confession of individual sins in order to acquire a renewed forgiveness over and over, but a confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. We also find John comes back to the subject of confession later in his book and it brings further clarification.
A common doctrine found in Christianity is that of confessing sins in order to receive a renewed forgiveness from God. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul, who wrote more books in the New Testament than anyone, never once instructed us to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. Considering previous scriptures we’ve covered which declare we’re already forgiven in Christ, where does this concept come from? It basically revolves around one verse in the entire Bible. This week, we look at the context leading up to that verse, who John was speaking to, and what his message was really meant to communicate.