Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at Jesus Christ P35 (01-12-21)
Who is Jesus Christ, and by knowing that, what does that mean to me personally? That is the question of the century. Certainly he is a man of history, someone who walked on this earth, as even our calendars are divided into B.C. and A.D. There were prophecies recorded down in the scriptures that predicted what would the promised Messiah would do, as spoken by the prophets.
Then we read about the eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ, while he was on this earth, and he fulfilled every one of those prophecies. Then we had the testimony of Jesus’ interaction with Mary Magdalene, his mother Mary, his disciples and the afflicted, who recognized who he is and bowed down and worshiped him. He healed the sick, made the blind see, walked on water, calmed the storms by His word, spoke words no man has ever heard, penetrating the hearts of men, exposing their inner heart to them, yet extending mercy and grace, being full of grace and truth. Ultimately he died on a cross and rose again, just as the prophets said would happen. Many did not believe, did not understand or were unwilling to accept what He had to say. But others, including the disciples, were convinced from the evidence that Jesus really is God, and by knowing Him and believing the words He had spoken, received life in His name.
We have earlier concluded that Jesus is God, and being God, He alone is to be worshiped. But what did He come to do for you and me? Now people can know Jesus is God, knowing He did certain things but that does not affect your life as God intended for you to have, His life, eternal life. See, God came so you may recognize something about yourself and about Him so you may have eternal life. Eternal life is to know God and His Son Jesus Christ, to have His Spirit living in you so you may live in a new way of the Spirit.
First, recognize that you are a sinner, that you were born under law, unable to perfectly obey the law that was set against you. The law is holy, just and good so the problem is not with the law but with man, you and me, who are born in weakened flesh. You recognize there is something wrong with you, that there is something missing, an empty feeling in your heart. The issue is you were born dead to God, without the Spirit of God living in you. God saw that need of mankind since Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, causing this condition of spiritual death in every man.
So Jesus, first of all, prepared the hearts of men when he walked on this earth, explaining to men their need of life. He first went to the cross, which is the only means by which our sins can be forgiven forever, totally taking them away from the eyes of God. Until He first went to the cross, He would not be able to offer His life, for until our sins are taken away, and we are out from under the law of sin and death, then the next time we sinned, we would die again.
He came to solve our problem of spiritual death by first taking away our cause of death, which is sin. He did this by dying on a cross, shedding his own blood, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. But only Jesus, being the eternal God, could shed his blood, once and for all, to take away the sins of the world. The blood of sinful man or the blood of bull and goats could not take away sins.
But without Jesus rising from the dead, to offer to us what we really need, we would remain dead. Salvation is life, and the only life available to mankind is the resurrection life in Christ Jesus. So God sent Jesus to offer eternal life to mankind. But He first came to take away the sins of the world so eternal life could be offered to men. So listen as we study this new chapter in our study in A Closer Look at Jesus Christ, titled Chapter 10: Only God Can Forgive Sin.
Let us continue in our study in A Closer Look at Jesus Christ. We are now in Chapter 10: Only God Can Forgive Sin. But first, let us recap what we have studied so far.
In the first lesson, we talked about Who Did Jesus Claim to Be?, and, of course, who is God. We talked about giving the analogy of what we do, continue to do, and always will do. A man claiming himself to be God will either be A Madman or God in the Flesh. We asked people, “Who do you say that he is?”, which is the same question he asked the apostles, Who Do You Say that I Am?
In other words, it does not do you any good to acknowledge that Jesus may be God, but the issue is, is He your God? What have you done with that? It is like going into a cafeteria and saying, “There might be food there”, and then starving to death. Why? You do not eat it. You went in there but you did not eat any of it.
So when you realize He is God, then you realize I am not. So if He is and I am not, and there is a God and I am not, then I need to give myself to the one who is. That is the Receiving the Offer of Life. If I am dead and He is life then the issue comes down to is, “Do I want life?” It does me no good to say He is life. The issue is, Do you want His life? Are you willing to let go of yours in order to receive His? Or do you want to keep holding onto your own mindset and your own thoughts, to hang onto your own bitterness, anger and vindictiveness or do you want to let go of that, and let God be your life? Those are questions we need to answer in our life?
We talked about What Others Claimed About Jesus Christ. That is an important part of testimony, not only what Jesus claimed about Himself. Who did the people listening to him claim he was? They recognized him as God. Some did. Others said he was a winebibber and a glutton, demon possessed. The decision that a person makes as to who they think Jesus is, is quite frankly, going to determine where they will be going to live the rest of their lives, to live in hell, separated from God, or to live in the presence of God. It is not that God sends them there, because we were already born in this world dead spiritually, and if we refuse life what do we remain? Dead.
If you live in a prison cell and the warden gets on the PA system and says there has been a universal pardon for everyone in jail, the doors are flung wide open, and a person refuses to come out, where is he going to die? In his cell. If a man is dead, and Jesus comes and swings the door open, and says life is out there, where are you going to die? In your death. You are going to die in your sins. So it is vitally important what others claim about Christ.
We talked about Biblical Prophecies About Jesus Christ, then A Magnified Look at the Crucifixion, The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, and then last week, about the Historical Evidence of Christ’s Deity, as it related to the receiving of worship. Once again, you are right back to what we talked about in chapter 2, in regard to Jesus claiming himself to be God. He would be a madman, an impostor, or God. Anyone receiving worship would be the same way. Either I am deceived, a madman, to think I deserve worship, or a con artist, come worship me and make you think I am God, which is what the antichrist will do in the end times, or he is truly God.
Today, we will talk about who in the world is qualified to forgive sin. So in chapter 10 of our study in A Closer Look at Jesus Christ, we will study Only God Can Forgive Sin. We will pick up in Hebrews 10. There we will see that he has been talking about the law.
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.
People say, “I want to be under the law”. That means you want to be under a shadow. It is like saying, “I do not want to live in reality. Give me fantasy. Let me go to movies. Let me watch television. Let me read fictional books. I do not want to deal with facts. I want to deal with shadows. Do not confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up.” If you want to live under the law that is the kind of person you are. You are a person who is saying, “I do not want to live in reality.”
Why is that so? Anyone with a brain knows that if you are under the law, you cannot do it. That is what the bible says but we are so stubborn that we still think we can. But the bible says anyone under the law is under a curse. We love to be under a curse. Is that good news? Can you imagine getting a Christmas card from your loved one saying “Dear Bob. Merry Christmas. You are under a curse.” It just does not make any sense. But that is what people want to live under. Folks, we cannot do it. There is nothing wrong with the law, as Paul says, but when it flows through me, it kills me. You literally have to live under denial living under law. You are in total denial of your own sinfulness. How can you live under law, recognizing yourself as a total sinner in your ability to live up to it. You are living in a shadow. You are not living in reality.
1 For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices
Even though under the law, living in this non-realistic setting, there was a forgiveness system that was set up. But those kinds of forgiveness systems, even inasmuch as it was a part of the law, cannot, by the same sacrifices, make anyone perfect.
repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
There is your problem. It could forgive your sin, but it could not make you perfect.
2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Cover sins? Yes. Take away sins? No way. Therefore, there is no sacrifice of bulls and goats, that could ever make anyone perfect.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God.’”[Psalm 40:6-8]
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” – though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
What did he do? He set aside the first, the Old Covenant, to establish the second, the New Covenant. And by this will, this brand new one, you have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. In contrast now, we read this.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
1617 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
I think we can stop on that first segment for forty five more minutes. Jesus speaks to the writer of Hebrews and says, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more“ and “where these have been forgiven, there is no more sacrifice for sin”. Only God can pull that off. The blood of bulls and goats could cover sin, called atonement. If that were not so, God would not have initiated that as so. Remember what we just read.
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them“ – though they were offered in accordance with the law.
Although the law required them to be made, who gave us the law? God. Did He require them to be made? Yes. Were they pleasing to Him? No. Why? They were not complete and could never make anyone perfect. Could they forgive someone temporarily? Yes. Could they ever make a person perfect, or righteous? No. Could they ever make you holy? No. They were trying to make themselves holy, set apart by what they did, exterior, but never to be set apart by who they were, interior.
So we have to come to grips with that, that although God gave us the law, He was not pleased with such sacrifices for they could never make anyone perfect. That is what He had reserved for His Son alone to do, for God Himself coming to this earth, taking on our humanity, going to a cross and to a resurrection. That is what He brought about for us permanently, what could never be brought about for us through the shed blood of bulls and goats. Only God could take away sin, or forgive sin forever. The other form of sacrificial systems could atone for sin, cover it, but never forgive it and take it away. That could only be done by God Himself.
So Jesus, therefore, in Hebrews says, “Their sins and lawless acts, I [Jesus] will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.”
So what did God do with our sinless laws and acts? It says he put it behind the back of God never to see them again. “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” What does He mean by that?Your sins and lawless acts He will remember no more. Has he remembered them? Yes, He did. Where did that take place? At the cross. How did He do that? God is not limited by time and space such as we are. God is omniscient and omnipresent. He is not sitting down looking down, whether it is 1993 or 1992. He sees all of the gamut of humanity and all of the gamut of creation in one swoop. Has he already seen all of your sins and all of your children’ sins, and your grandchildren’s sins, and your great great grandchildren’ sins, and so forth and so on? Yes, He has. Had He seen them all from Adam to the cross? Yes, He did. Did He see them all from the cross to eternity? Yes, He did. What did He do with all of those? He said, “I will remember them no more.” That is His sacrifice. Only God can do that. The blood of bulls and goats can cover what you did last year, but it cannot make you perfect. Remember that.
So if your sins are forgiven, are there any more sacrifice for sins? He just told us. “Where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice.” Which means something. If there was more forgiveness, there would have to be a sacrifice. The reason for that is in Hebrews 9:22.
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Which means that if these things had not been forgiven, your sins today, tomorrow and forever had not been forgiven and then there is going to be a blood sacrifice today in order to forgive it. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Where these have been forgiven, there is no longer a sacrifice. It means that if my sins have not been totally forgiven then there has to be a sacrifice. So let me ask you a question? Is Jesus going to come and die again? No, he isn’t. So what are you going to conclude about the one time he did? That it is finished.
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Why did he pour out this blood of his. This is the blood for a new covenant, that is talked about in Hebrews.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
So, it is a blood covenant.
22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
He gave us a new covenant, my friends. A brand new covenant. This is the blood of it. It is His life laid down for you and me, paying a debt He did not owe for you and me, who owe a debt we could not pay. This was all prophesied. So it is not the case that this man Jesus came on the scene and was a martyr. This was all prophesied, by Zecharaih, for example. Listen to what he said.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins
Who is the only one who would ever have authority to forgive sins? It would have to be God Himself. Man does not have the authority to forgive sins. A priest does not have authority to forgive sins. In the Old Testament, you had a priest as a representative between man and God, but it took the shedding of blood to forgive sins. The priest did not lay his own life down and shed his blood for you and me. He merely initiated the activity. He was there. He was the one who took the blood that had already been shed by someone else and not his own.
24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
He, the high priest, went into the Holy of Holies, not with his own blood, but with the blood of someone else, in order to present it to God, and doing so in such a way he had a bell and a pipe tied around his legs, so in case he died in there, they could pull him out. Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies. But today, that curtain has been rent in two, enabling all of us, Jew and Gentile alike, to enter into the Holy of Holies, calling Him, ’Abba, Father”. Why? Because forgiveness has taken place, the shedding of blood, not by the blood of a bull or a goat, which cannot take away sin. Atone for it? Yes. Take it away? No.
I do not want to get nit-picking on this, but the fact of the matter is that atonement is not used in the New Testament. That is an Old Testament word. That means covering. We call it the atoning death of Jesus Christ. I am sorry, but He did not have an atoning death. His death took away sin. You are taking His blood sacrifice in the same category as the blood of a bull or a goat. The blood of bulls and goats atoned. Jesus did not come to atone. There already was a system of atonement. He came to take it away, to do something only God can do, the sacrifice of God Himself on behalf of man.
Man cannot forgive sin. You cannot come to me saying, “Okay, I am going to intercede for you before God, and your sins are forgiven”. I do not have any authority to do that. I have authority to tell you your sins are forgiven by God, but that is authority given to us to represent God on this earth. But I do not have the authority to forgive you of sins. I have authority to tell you that he has already been forgiven. And you do too. That has been given to you by God. You have authority from God to proclaim the good news.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
You have authority to do that because God has given it to you. I have authority to do that because God has given it to me. But I have no authority at all to forgive sin. Only God can forgive sins and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. That is why it says this.
13 Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
It is not talking about you and me walking around forgiving one another. I do not have authority to forgive you, nor many times the desire. It is because of Christ Jesus, alive living in you, who has forgiven you, that I have the authority to pronounce that Christ has forgiven you, and Christ, who lives in me, has already forgiven you. Therefore, so do I.
Let us look at how Christ forgave sins. Let us look at the example of the paralytic. Only God can receive worship and only God can forgive sins.
We have watered it down with the blood of bulls and goats. Today we water it down, by saying man is the source of forgiveness. There are those who believe a priest can absolve someone of sin. There are also people who teach that you are forgiven when dunked in water, as if water can forgive you.
Water is not the shedding of blood. Water is a symbol of death, not of life. There is no baptism that can forgive sins. You are baptized for the remission of sins means you have been baptized with the one who is the remission of sins, and that is Jesus and Him alone. All baptism was, in those days, a means of identifying yourself, that I no longer identify myself as being a Jew through an outward sign of circumcision, but I am going to identify myself with being a follower of Christ with the outward sign of being dunked in water. But there is no one dunked in water who is forgiven of their sins. That was merely a means of identifying yourself who did forgive sins. In circumcision, you identified yourself with the one who believed you were saved by being a Jew, and that was circumcision. I am going to change my mind on that, and I am going to be baptized outwardly, just as I was circumcised outwardly, and identify with the one who takes away my sins, and that is Christ Jesus. There is no outward sign that forgives sins. There is no water that forgives sins. Only by the shedding of blood is sins forgiven.
So let us look at Jesus’ encounter with a paralytic.
3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.
Now those are very good friends. There were buddies of this paralytic. Again, did they know Jesus could? Did they think that He would? Yes, they did. They could not get through, so they used Jewish ingenuity. So they dug a hole in the roof of that house to lower the man through. That is quite ingenious.
5 When Jesus saw their faith,
That is an example of faith. That is faith, and putting the works to it, the shoe leather to it. I believe it, and I am going to take him to Him.
he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Can you imagine the paralytic and his buddies saying, “I did not come here for sins. I came to get this guy healed.” Jesus obviously did see the man was in need of physical healing. What did Jesus see? He looks in his heart. What was in his heart? Well, there is something more important than physical healing. You need internal soulish healing. He looked beyond the physical into the spiritual and pronounced, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Even the Pharisees recognized that.
8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?
What He is saying is this. Look guys, you say that only God can forgive sin, would you tell me who do you think it would be who would say to this man, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ and have him do it? Do you think you guys could pull that off? You conduct all of the forgiveness services, of sacrificing bulls and goats, but I am going to ask you, do you think you can pull this off? Do you think you can say to this man ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ and he will get up and walk? And the answer to that is, of course not. But this same God who says to this man ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ is the same man who can forgive sins. In just a moment, you are going to hear me say ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ and he is going to do so, then you are going to understand that this man who says ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’ is the same man who can forgive sins. And you are right, only God can do both things.
9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
I think I would be able to say the same thing, wouldn’t you? We look at this type of thing. Think of the gentleness and the mercy of God. How difficult would it be for a man to sit there, looking at another man. He has not come through a religious system, and he has not even been to Jerusalem U yet. He is claiming to be God and claiming Himself to have the ability to forgive sins. Is there any mystery that religious leaders of the day would be a little hacked at that. Is there any mystery of these religious leaders, saying this man is blasphemous and a heretic. We can be called heretics by just being teachers of grace rather than law. So is it a mystery that that spirit of antichrist, that spirit of rebellion, that spirit of legalism is in them, when we realize it is also in us? Not at all.
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