Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Sin (page 2 of 2)

A Single Cross on a Single Day

carrying-the-cross

“… through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20).

Paul has in view reconciliation not merely on a personal, but a cosmic level (τὰ πάντα, “all things”). The same expression was used three times in verses 16 and 17 to depict, as it does here, “the whole of creation” (BAGD, 633). The totality of created reality is in view. Something happened upon that cross on that Friday that was reality-altering for everything, everyone, everywhere, for all time.

There the Father moved to reconcile “to Himself” (εἰς αὐτόν) an entire creation that had been hurled into opposition against him. “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but … in hope” (Romans 8:20). The realization of that hope was purchased on the cross. For it was there that God the Father “made peace” (εἰρηνοποιήσας) by bringing wrath—not upon our rebellious race and the creation we’ve taken with us into chaos, but by bringing His wrath upon His own Son whom He appointed to stand in our place. The peace-making tells us how the reconciliation was effected. Through our autonomy we made war on God, through His obedience Jesus made peace for us with God.

The means or instrument (διὰ) employed by the Father (at His good pleasure, v.19) to make that peace was “the blood of His cross” (τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτου). The blood of Christ effected propitiation (Romans 3:25), justification (Romans 5:9), redemption, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7), and, as here, reconciliation (Ephesians 2:13). It is the ground of all the blessings of the new covenant the Father extends to us in Christ (1 Corinthians 11:25).

When Paul speaks of Christ’s blood he is using a figure of speech known as metalepsis. Thus, in the first place, “blood” stands for blood-shedding (i.e., the death of Christ). Then, secondly, Christ’s death stands for the full and complete satisfaction which is made by it and for all the merits of the atonement which is brought about by it. Thus, says Bullinger, to speak of the blood of Christ “means not merely the actual blood corpuscles, neither does it mean His death as an act, but the merits of the atonement effected by it and associated with it” (610). The blood is called “of His cross” (τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτου) because, of course, it was upon the cross where Jesus gave up His life in death to effect the singular event that would change all things forever.

Everything, everywhere, for everyone, for all time – “… this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” on that single cross on that single day so long ago (Hebrews 7:27).

Gizmos, Gadgetry and Moral Decline

moral-dummies

The sermon’s subtitle was “Technology and Degeneracy Arrived on Parallel Tracks.” The preacher was A.W. Tozer. It was spoken at a time when cutting edge technology was embraced by having a television in your home. Despite the passage of fifty-plus years since its delivery, his words seem truer now than they did when he first spoke them:

“I don’t know whether this will prove anything, but I throw it out for what it may say to a sharp mind ready to hear: I wonder if it isn’t very strange and significant that two developments came in parallel order. The toymakers’ dream came to pass–the invention of all the gadgets and ‘things’ that now mark what we call modern civilization. But, parallel with that, at the same time and among the same people, like two rails of the same railroad track running side by side, there came the most frightful and frightening, incredibly cruel and wicked state of affairs that have ever been known since the days of Noah.” (The Tozer Pulpit, 3:126)

Unintended Consequences

unintended.consequences

David sinned. In this he was like us. David sinned in many ways and at many times. In this too he was like us.

Normally, David was quick to acknowledge is sin and to turn from it (e.g., Psalm 19:12; 139:23-24). We think of his surreptitious theft of the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam. 24). He had no more than snipped it than his conscience was stricken (v.5). This seems to be David’s pattern: sin—confess … and quickly. This too should be our pattern (1 John 1:9).

Yet when it came to his badly timed stroll on the roof (2 Sam. 11:2), David was not so quick in the acknowledgement of his sin. He hadn’t gone with the army when perhaps he should have (v.1). He went outside for a breath of fresh air. He saw Bathsheba in her backyard bath. He let his eyes linger, his heart ponder, and his imagination have her. And he sent for her. He had her—this time not simply in his imagination. She became pregnant. He tried to cover up. Her husband was too noble. David had him killed. Quick wedding. Child is born.

Hush. Hush. Hush.

It was perhaps a year after his rendezvous with the wife of one of his greatest fighters (compare 1 Sam. 11:3 and 23:39) that God sent in His prophet, Nathan: “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7a). Now, finally, David was quick and succinct in his confession: “I have sinned against the LORD.” (v.13). Just as quickly the prophet delivered God’s word of pardon … but revealed that He would not remove all the consequences of his sin: “The LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die … the child who is born to you shall die” (v.14).

Note that: “you shall not die … the child … shall die.”

“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Every time. Without exception.

Someone (or something) always has to die when sin strides on stage. There can be forgiveness and mercy, but there must always be justice.

In the case of David’s sin two of his children would die. Most immediately, the child of adultery died (2 Sam. 12:15-18). His brief life and sudden death testify that, while God is lavishly gracious and quick to forgive, He does not thus necessarily cancel all the consequences of our sin.

A second son of David would also die as a direct result of David’s sin. Over a dozen times in the Gospels Jesus Christ is called “the son of David.” The New Testament’s opening words witness to the fact: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David …” (Matthew 1:1a).

David’s first son died as a consequence of his sin. His second son died as atonement for his sin—and, thankfully, not only for David’s, but ours as well.

The brother of that first son would later write, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). One wonders just how much family history and personal emotion is tied up in Solomon’s proverb. We are wise to heed what he says. We do well to cry, as did the blind men along the road, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” (Matt. 9:27). When we do, Jesus is glad to say, “According to your faith be it done to you” (v.29b).

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