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Christmas #6 – Sin + Sacrifice

November 29, 2008

In the previous post in this series, I made note of an interesting but significant sentence in Genesis, Chapter 3.

It’s in verse 21 and reads:

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. (KJV.)

Why is this significant? Well, it marks an early mention of some of the unique characteristics of the Christian Gospel:

– the shedding of blood is required to cover our sin

– God is the one who does this work – not us

Did you see that?! Wow – I love this Scripture, because it shows us, right from the start, that it is our Lord and Creator who does the work to save us. We are unable to work our way back to God, but once we allow Him to clothe us, to cover our sin, we can begin to live for Him.

In Genesis 2:15-17, the first human has already been warned by God that death is the curse resulting from disobeying God’s command. And really, it’s not as if God gave humans a difficult list of rules. There was only one: “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:17a, NIV) Notice that it does not say “don’t eat apples” or any other fruit. My understanding is that this was a unique tree, no longer in existence, as the Garden of Eden would probably have been destroyed in the Flood (Genesis 7:20-24).

There is a curse that comes from rejecting the Creator. He is the source of all life, and to cut Him out of our lives is to choose death over the life offered by the One who created us.

Let’s look at a few relevant Scriptures. You are encouraged to read these in a translation of the Bible that you find easier to understand. There are a variety of Bible translations available online at http://bible.crosswalk.com/ and heaps of bookstores selling Bibles. See below for a small list of Australian-based Bible stores online.

Hebrews 9:11-28 KJV
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Romans, Chapter 5 KJV
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christmas

What does this all have to do with Christmas? Well, it points to the very reason that Jesus came. The blood of an innocent, a sacrificial Lamb, for example, must be shed to pay the price for our disobedience to God. The problem is that no one is free of sin – we have all inherited sin from our ancestor, Adam, humanity’s representative who chose death and disobedience over a relationship with Creator God.

Who, then, can die for a man’s sin when no man is free of sin? Animal sacrifices were – for want of a better term – like a ‘band-aid solution’ to the problem. An elaborate system of sacrifice worked in the meantime. But when God comes to Earth in the form of a Man, in the Incarnation, Jesus becomes the one truly sinless Man. Now, I must admit that I am at a loss for words to describe what it means exactly. I am not a theologian and I won’t pretend to be. So, I will over the posts to come in this series, also provide links to information written by those better qualified than I am who have explored the question of the Incarnation.

The Incarnation, by the way, is simply a fancy sounding word referring to God the Son coming to Earth in the form of a human being in order to suffer the penalty for human sin. That penalty being death. In suffering death He defeated death. If that has left you more confused, you might want to read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia. Now I say, read the book – the recent and very successful movie, while certainly being very exciting, I feel missed the theological depth of Lewis’ story. Read the book, keeping in the back of your mind the concept that Aslan is like a figure of Christ, and I think it makes a really interesting and enlightening interpretation of the Gospel stories of Christ.

A small selection of Australian-based online stores selling Bibles:

http://www.koorong.com/bibles/

http://www.word.com.au/productgroup.aspx?productgroupid=9

http://www.bibleleague.com.au/store_resources/onlinestoremain.shtml

Further reading and information:

Questions and Answers about the Trinity, http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3008/#trinity.

‘The Cleansing Blood,’ (2007), Dr H. Morris, http://www.icr.org/article/3215/.

Is Jesus Christ God? http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-t005.html.

“First Adam – Last Adam,” (1998), http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/200.

‘Why is Christianity such a bloody religion?’ http://www.gotquestions.org/Christianity-bloody.html.

‘Why did God require animal sacrifices in the Old Testament?’ http://www.gotquestions.org/animal-sacrifices.html.

‘Is Jesus God?’ http://www.gotquestions.org/is-Jesus-God.html.

All links in this post accessed 26 September 2008.

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3 comments

  1. […] Christmas #6 – Sin + Sacrifice […]


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  3. […] come. Now, they were given the meat of animals to consume – providing they did not consume blood. (Here’s that theme of shed blood, again!) As a vegetarian, I have taken quite a lot of notice of this passage. I imagine that, after […]



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