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How can Jesus dying on the cross wipe out everyone's sins? How are the two connected?
Thank you for your great question on a powerful subject. What is the connection between a crucified Jesus and our sins being wiped out?
Obviously, this question is of monumental importance. To answer it we must consider five things.
Firstly, sin is very, very vile. We don't naturally think of all sin as vile. We think of some sins as vile, like murder and rape. But we think of other sins as perfectly acceptable. We don't really think gossiping is too bad. We don't believe lust or laziness are punishable. We can put up with a bit of greed, a little jealousy, a portion of bitterness. It doesn't bother us much. But it bothers God – a great deal.
We have to remember who we are sinning against. This is the Creator: the one who made you and I. He has every right to demand how we should live in His universe. But when we sin, we are basically saying is that we want to do our own thing, even if he is the creator of the universe. We are, in effect, spitting in God's face and so sin is abominably wicked, in all its forms. In the Bible, God Himself uses some horrific illustrations to describe just how disgusting sin is to Him. Ezekiel 16 and 23 talk about this and I encourage you to read them. The Creator does not go gently in letting us know how much He hates sin of all kinds.
Secondly, sin is universal. This is devastating, considering the first point. To think sin is this bad – and yet, everyone does it! Everybody commits sin. Nobody – the world over – does what God wants! Anywhere! Not you and not me. I encourage you to read Romans 3:10-18.
Thirdly, sin absolutely necessitates Divine punishment because of the character of God. A good judge cannot let a guilty person 'off the hook'. Imagine how you would feel if your relative was murdered and you go to court and there's the murderer on trial. There's no possibility he's innocent; the evidence is so overwhelmingly obvious. But the trial finishes, and the judge shocks everyone by declaring, 'I'm so loving and forgiving that I'm going to let this man go free.' How does that make you feel? There would be a cry of injustice!
Millions of people expect God to treat us just like that judge treated that murderer! God cannot do this; God cannot treat us like the judge above treated that murderer. God cannot forgive lawbreakers, which is what we are in His sight. God cannot forgive sinners because God is not like that wicked judge in our example. This is the biggest dilemma known to mankind: we have sinned against a good and loving God of total justice and therefore we deserve a penalty. How can we be forgiven? We have a serious problem on our hands, a problem which few people take seriously.
Fourthly, the only penalty that will do for us is that of death. We're not just talking about death that we will all experience in this life. That's just a very small taste of what's ahead. The death, the punishment that awaits all humanity, is the unreserved wrath of Almighty God for all eternity; Hell; The Lake of Fire; Eternal judgment; Everlasting destruction. The Bible uses all of these phrases to describe what lies ahead for us. At the heart of it, death is being separated from God's loving and favourable presence forever.
Now if this were the end of things, then indeed, we have had it. Frankly it's the worst news ever. But thanks be to God, it's not the end of the matter!
The fifth truth is this: the only hope for mankind is for God to sacrifice Himself in our place as a man. God came down from the courts of heaven and united human nature to Himself. He was born and named Jesus. In real human history, this Son of God was rejected by mankind, scourged and finally nailed to a cross by the Romans around 30AD. It was a very bloody and barbaric ordeal. From God's view-point, it was the final sacrifice for sinners.
For hundreds of years before Jesus, animals were violently sacrificed in order to put people right with God. This sacrifice was necessary because blood sacrifices show us how vile our sin is in God's sight: they paint a graphic display of what we deserve and show us the enormous cost it takes to put us right with God. In short, these sacrifices taught that if we are to survive God's wrath, something must die in our place, because we deserve death.
Surprisingly, both the Old and New Testaments make it clear that no animal sacrifice can ever really do a complete job (see Micah 6:6-8 and Hebrews 10:1-4). Nor can a mere man die for the sins of the world. Really, the only sacrifice which could ever put us right with God was that of Himself. He came to us in the person of Jesus and gave Himself for us.
In effect, God has thrown Himself in front of oncoming traffic, in order to push us out of the way. In the process, God sacrificed His own life to spare ours. This is why Christians are always talking about the astounding love of God. Since Jesus has paid our penalty, we can have God's complete forgiveness! In other words, rather than dying forever, we will live forever, because Christ died for us.
The part that still might not make sense is how we are connected to that act on the cross and it may not seem to make much more sense after it's been explained either but these are incredible issues about the way God works. We should expect to be able to grasp them easily.
The New Testament letters explaining life with God are full of the phrase "in Jesus" and Romans 6:3-4 says it perhaps most clearly: when a person asks God to forgive them and gives their life to him, God does something incredible - by the Holy Spirit, that person is joined to Jesus ("in", or "baptised" which means immersed) in his death on the cross.
When Jesus was judged and punished on the cross he was not being judged for his own sin - he had none! (This means in fact that he shouldn't even have died!) He took upon himself the sin of his people, all who would have him as their saviour throughout the world! It may not make immediate sense, how Jesus' death way back then is connected to our lives here and now, or anyone else's at all. But that is what the Bible says happened, what God achieved through it, more than that, it's the reason it happened and the only way Jesus' death makes sense.
Sin always has and always will need to be paid for by sacrifice, but there is no need for sacrifice any more because Jesus' death is the ultimate sacrifice, once for all. Every sacrifice ever made before it is validated by it, and no sacrifice ever needs to be offered ever again. We can have the benefit of Jesus' sacrifice in the same way as people did before, people who saw him on the cross did, and everyone who has ever believed in him since has been - by faith in Jesus on our part, and by God, by the Spirit, uniting us to Jesus.
To summarise: Jesus died. And that means that we don't have to! His sacrifice puts things right between us and God, because His sacrifice was a death – and death is what we deserve. Through faith in Christ through which we are joined to him, we have already faced the wrath of God because Jesus faced it for us. Therefore, God cannot charge us with sin any more, if we are in Christ. God cannot hold anything against us and neither can anyone else (see Romans 8:31-39). So He forgives us and lets us be with Him forever! This is why God sent Jesus, this is why forgiveness comes only through the cross and this is what the Christian message is really all about.
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 (1 Peter 3:18).
I do hope this general answer to your question goes some way to helping you find peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our
In closing, I want to encourage you to get more involved with your local church. It would be good to speak to a Christian leader or another trusted church individual regarding your question. I know they would be delighted to further answer you as well as offer prayer and support as you continue your spiritual journey: www.lookingforgod.com/churchfinder
Please use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Isaiah 64:6
- Romans 3:10-18
- Romans 3:21-27
- Hebrews 8-10
- Romans 8:31-39
- Isaiah 53
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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