We are saved irrevocably from the moment we first believed, but what happens to the sins that we continue to commit from that point on?
One day, as John the Baptist was going about the Lord’s work, Jesus himself came to where John was baptizing believers. Moved by the Holy Spirit, John declared:
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. WEB
What wonderful words to those of us whom have sinned grievously in our lives, and in the quiet hours of the night, are confronted with those sins by the accuser of the brethren, Satan. (Not Satan himself, obviously, but one of his minions; the little red devil you see sitting on the shoulders of cartoon characters, urging them to indulge their cartoon flesh.)
As we come nearer to God, the enemy seeks to shake our faith, steal our effectiveness as God’s servants and deny the saving power of our Lord Jesus. We cannot lose our salvation, but by doubting God’s word, we commit further sin. The enemy tempts us to sin by rejecting God’s promises.
The sin of unbelief hinders the flow of the power of God through us. Mark relates a story about Jesus, illustrating this principle:
“He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them. 6 He marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:5-6 WEB
In this story, their unbelief stemmed from the fact that the Lord had returned to His hometown and the people who saw Him grow up rejected the notion that He was anything special. Your friends and family, unless they are saved, likely reject Jesus in you in much the same fashion.
Regardless of the cause, unbelief is a barrier to the miraculous power of God to bless us. Though unbelief can spring up from many different causes, self-condemnation in the face of the absolute promises of almighty God to cleanse us is probably one of Satan’s favorite ploys.
Self-condemnation is most common among believers who have come from a background of ‘works theology’; the “another gospel” spoken of by Paul in Galatians 1:8; people who believe they must work their way to Heaven. We get tricked into believing that we can please God by obeying His law in our flesh, and that by sinning, we are cut off from Him. We also begin to believe that there are degrees of sin. We think our little sins don’t count because well, ‘at least we’re not Sodom and Gomorrah sinful’.
What is the truth, what does God say about the disposition of the sins we have committed and continue to commit while in these earthen vessels?
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 WEB
Is God a liar? “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. He takes it away… He takes it away. It is disposed of.
The Day of Atonement ceremonies included two goats. Chosen by lot, one was slain and sacrificed on the altar. The high priest laid his hands on the head of the other one, the scapegoat, and confessed all the sins of the people. The scapegoat was then led by a strong man into the wilderness and abandoned. That goat was never seen again: it was just gone.
Both goats were types of Christ. He received the death penalty for our sins and He also carries them away. He was punished for them and He bore them away.
“But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:24-25 WEB (Emphasis added)
Our salvation was complete, and settled when we first believed. An important part of the process from that point onward, while we remain in these earthen vessels is the removal of the sins that vessel continues to commit. Christ continues to plead His blood before the Father, covering all of our sins and taking them away. He “ever lives to make intercession for us” until He snatches us up into His throne room; shouting Hallelujah and rejoicing in our resurrection bodies! He is able to save us to the uttermost.
It’s easy for us to understand the fate of the slain goat, as we know the story of Christ being crucified for our sins, but the scapegoat, the one who is led away gets little attention in Laodicea; the self-satisfied church confident in the power of their own works to save them as they ignore Jesus knocking outside their door.
The battle for believers is to believe; believe the promises of God. Christ, our scapegoat, takes away our sins; removing them “as far as the east is from the west”. When God the Father looks at us, He sees only the righteousness of Christ. The sins are gone.
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- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com