During Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples He said of the third cup that was shared as part of the Passover meal and that commemorated the redemption of the Jewish nation from its bondage in Egypt, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mat 26:28). For in the same way, it is Christ’s blood that delivers us from our bondage to sin. For His blood that was poured out for us on the cross effects forgiveness not by paying some divine penalty for sin to satisfy God’s justice that as a penal sacrifice merely covers over our sins as if they weren’t there or didn’t matter. Rather, forgiveness and atonement with God are inseparably related to our deliverance from the otherwise incurable disease of sin and release from its bondage, which come only from a complete repentance of death to sin. But only the Holy Spirit of Christ that was also poured out for us through His blood by His heroic sacrifice on the cross and that manifested to us the way to life is able to cleanse us from our sins by granting us that complete repentance. For the same Spirit that would not allow God’s Holy One to undergo decay but raised Jesus from the dead is the One Who is able to raise us also from being dead in our sins; cf. 2Co 4:11,14,16.
In addition to delivering us from our bondage to sin, in what way did Christ’s redemption also render powerless the devil? See Heb 2:14-15 and notice that the devil had the power of death because through fear of death he was able to subject men to slavery all their lives, just as we see today as people “slave away” at worldly jobs they hate for fear of not having health insurance; contrast Mat 6:25-34. It was perhaps such slavery that Satan intended from the very beginning when he first tempted Eve and that made him the god of this world, knowing that sin was death’s sting (1Co 15:56), the venom of a serpent, a deceitful poison that would work death within us and enslave us to our fear of it by separating us from God who is our life (Isa 59:1-2). For the very nature of sin is deception. Every sin appeals to the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, and the boastful pride of our lives (Gen 3:6, 1Jo 2:15-16), and deceives us that we are doing right when we are doing wrong, that we are walking in light when we are walking in darkness, which is why Scripture warns us repeatedly to not be deceived by it; see 1Co 6:9-10, Gal 6:7-8, Eph 5:5-6, Jam 1:14-16, 1Jo 3:7-8. And although God was willing and able to simply forgive man, it wasn’t so simple, for man was now infected with the serpent’s poison and according to the laws of creation that He had already set in motion and warned about, man would surely die as a consequence of his sin, which He knew would continue to deceive and separate man further and further from his God Who alone as his Creator could guide him in the way of life. And although He could also raise man from the dead, that alone would not avail unless atonement was made first in order to reconcile man to his God by the acknowledgment of wrong and repentance on man’s part; otherwise, he would be right back where he was as a slave to sin. For until man repents and acknowledges that he is wrong, he cannot be saved from the descent into the deeper and deeper darkness where sin leads him. But again, because of the deceitful nature of sin even that isn’t so simple. For in order to repent, he must die to what the deception of sin leads him to believe is life but that is actually enslaving and destroying him.
Hence, the wages of sin always have been and always will be death. And yet the good news of the gospel is that God is able to raise us up from the dead, if we but repent by embracing in humble faith that our sin is wrong, and submit ourselves in Christ to death, in order that with Him we might also be raised from the dead to walk in newness of life; cf. Phil 3:10-11. Thus, when we are in the flesh, our greatest enemy is death, because death not only brings to an end all the pleasures of our flesh, but with it the fear of judgment. And it is that fear of death that the devil uses to keep men in bondage to his dominion over the kingdoms of this world. But in the Spirit, our greatest fear is no longer death—since God is able to raise us up from the dead—but the deceitfulness of sin that leads us away from God and would prevent us from entering into eternal life even though raised from the dead; see Mat 25:46. Thus, by dying as a heroic sacrifice and being raised from the dead to demonstrate the way to life through death, Christ through His sacrifice on the cross was able to render powerless him who had the power of death and deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?