In Christ – Alone

This is one of various articles in our Discipleship Series. You may read the other articles here .

The Bible teaches that all people are by nature sinful, separated from God and responsible for their own sin. Man, in and of himself, has nothing to offer God in exchange for his soul. He will spend eternity in hell; separated from God, should he reject the provisions offered him in Jesus Christ our Savior.

Before the foundations of the world God planned for our redemption. Every detail was considered and every benefit provided – in Christ. No one is beyond the reach of our God, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all…” (1 Timothy 2:4-6) God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

In The Beginning

In the beginning, man was created by God, in His own image and likeness. On the sixth day of the creation week, God looked at “everything” He had made and said it was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:15-17) Some time after the sixth day, Adam and his wife disobeyed the Lord. Eve was tempted by Lucifer, ate from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and gave the fruit to her husband who ate it as well: committing sin. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6) At that time Adam and Eve became aware of good and evil, became self-conscious, (realized that they were naked,) were ashamed, put forth human effort to cover the shame of their nakedness, and hid from the Lord. Their sin caused division between God and themselves. The intimacy and fellowship they had enjoyed was disrupted, and death was realized.

God had spoken to Adam and said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 3:16-17) The consequences of their disobedience, would from that time forward affect every man woman and child, result in universal sin and inspire the curse.

The book of Romans states, “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” (Romans 5:12) God has declared, “There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Romans 3:10) Paul the apostle believed this to be true of himself as well as with all other men. He wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Greek word translated “come short” is “hustereo” and is in the present indicative tense. The present indicative indicates tense something presently occurring. He is teaching that all men are not only sinners but are presently falling short of the glory of God.

The good news of the Scriptures is that sinful man, apart from any good he can provide, may be made clean and presented holy in the presence of the Lord. Fellowship can be restored and the curse of sin and death removed. Jesus Christ, provides by grace through faith alone, all man lost in the garden. We are blessed to receive eternal life in exchange for the death we suffer and deserve.

God is Angry with the Wicked – Every Day

Imagine how you would feel if an act of evil was committed against someone you love and there was no consequence. Imagine how you would feel if the crime were observed by a person in authority who refused to require consequence or restitution. Imagine how you would feel if the violator were then befriended by the observer without restitution and remedy for the violation. This is the situation for the Lord. A price has to be paid. Punishment has to be given. Imagine if the violation caused death. The consequences are staggering.

As sinners we deserve God’s judgment. Like Adam, we have all violated God’s righteous standard. The Bible explains that God’s nature is holy and that He must judge sin. To forgive sin without consequences would be an injustice. God cannot commit an injustice without violating His holiness. He is therefore obligated to provide a consequence for sin. A payment must be made.

God loves us so very much and is angered by that which causes pain and death. In His righteousness He is not only angry with that which causes pain and death but also with those who cause it. The Bible say’s, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7:11) Furthermore, “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5) Solomon wrote, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) His anger is not just toward the look, the lying tongue, the hands that shed innocent blood, the heart that devises wicked plans, or the feet running to evil, but also toward he who is a false witness and he who sows discord among the brethren. The Scriptures declare, “The LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies; the LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers…The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him.” (Nahum 1:2-6)

Only one could endure the fierceness of His anger. Only one could provide a refuge from God’s righteous fury. Jesus! He Himself is our refuge. He took upon Himself the wrath we deserve, that we might escape the wrath of God – in Him.

What Can a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?

Man, in and of himself has nothing to offer God in payment for his sin. He should spend eternity in hell, separated from God. As those continuously and presently falling short of God’s glory, we need the righteousness only God can provide. As sinners, we are fully incapable of offering any redemptive good to remove the penalty of our sin. Paul said, “For I know that in me, (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…” (Romans 7:18) “There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12) In fact, all human “good” – designed to satisfy God’s righteous standard is itself sin. Isaiah records, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) Even our tears of sorrow for sin and our self-driven attempts to “change” are unclean in the presence of His holiness. There is only one who is clean. There is only one who is Holy. There is only one who can make the sinner clean. Jesus! He Himself is our righteousness. He took upon Himself our sin; that we may be made clean and holy – in Him.

God Shall Judge the World in Righteousness

God has “appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31) The Scriptures declare that man has “…made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on the crown of his head.” (Psalm 7:15-16) As sinful man this leaves us in a very vulnerable position.

It is clear from the whole of Scripture that God is the only righteous judge. In His righteous justice He must judge the world. Our only hope is in the fact that Jesus suffered that judgment on our behalf. When we come to personally experience the provisions He offers and recognize the pit from which we have been lifted, then, and only then, will we truly appreciate His love and give Him the praise He deserves.

God, the Judge of the Righteous and the Wicked

Solomon, when musing about the affairs of life, declared in his heart, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (Ecclesiastes 3:17) Why would God judge the righteous? Furthermore, if all men are sinners then who is the righteous He will judge?

There is only one time God judged the righteous. There is only one man, whom as righteous, could be judged. “Jesus Christ The Righteous.” (1 John 2:1) Why would God judge Jesus? For us, in our place, for our sin! This is what we call the vicarious sufferings of Jesus. Vicarious suffering is one person assuming liability for and suffering for another – only occurring when the person assuming liability and the suffering is not personally responsible. Jesus Christ, the only righteous, took our penalty, in our place, for our sin. The just for the unjust! He Himself took what we deserve upon Himself and died for us. Jesus – The Righteous, suffered the judgment of God in our place. He is the only one who could. He is the only one who was guiltless and could die vicariously. Otherwise He would have died for His own sin and suffered as the wicked. But Jesus, the only righteous, suffered and died for us, that we may find deliverance in Him. Only those – in Him, are promised an escape from the wrath to come.

For He Made Him Who Knew No Sin to be Sin for us that We Might Become the Righteousness of God in Him

Those who recognize their sinful condition and need for a Savior are given the opportunity to receive forgiveness of sins. John wrote, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) The word “confess” here is “Homologeo” and means “to acknowledge” and is in the “present subjunctive active tense.” This references a continuous present action, and speaks as a condition. “Forgive” and “cleanse” are both in the “aorist subjunctive active tense.” This references a simple undefined action as opposed to continuous or repeated. Thus, those who acknowledge their sinful condition are promised two distinct actions: forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness. As we live acknowledging our sinful needy condition (by faith in Christ – alone,) we live forgiven. Jesus illustrated this in the story on the Pharisee and the Publican. He said, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’ ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation (one who makes repairs) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2) Paul wrote, “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 6:21)

The Righteousness of God – in Him

The Bible calls the offer of salvation “the Gospel.” It is the “good news” about all God has provided us – in Christ Jesus. Our sinfulness is replaced by His righteousness: our lives in exchange for His. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) By faith – in Christ, alone!

We are completely forgiven of all sins and made the righteousness of God – in Christ. How righteous? The righteousness of God, by faith alone, in Christ alone! “And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)

Complete in Him

When Jesus suffered in our place for our sin He forever remedied the problem of sin for those who put their faith in Him. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (set apart unto Him).” (Hebrews 10:14) “…then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)

Our dead and sin-laden lives are exchanged for the life of Christ by the indwelling of the Spirit of God. God transforms our very nature and changes us from within. This is the miracle of the new birth. We are, as the Bible puts it, “born again:” “born from above.”

Some teach that responding to this “good news” involves making every effort to live a life pleasing to the Lord; “working” and “trying” to please God, make good choices, and refuse the impulses of the flesh. Their focus is in their energy, warring with the devil, fleshly habits and against the lure of the world – always battling with little to no success; always with discouragement. However, they believe that this effort is pleasing to the Lord and He therefore “makes up the difference” for their weakness by an act of His grace. They call this “salvation:” “peace with God.” However, it is far from freedom, provides no peace and is certainly not the true Gospel.

As born again Christians we are instructed to surrender our lived to God. As those born by the Spirit of God, we are made the righteousness of God in Christ. We don’t spend our lives “working” and “trying” to please the Lord. We surrender ourselves to His leadership and rest in His holiness.

As stated earlier, our human effort to “please the Lord” by “trying harder” is opposed to His grace and power working in us. The Christian is called to enter into the “Sabbath Rest” of a relationship with Jesus. We are called to cease all striving to please the Lord and rest in His great love. We are complete in Him. He will shape us, he will lead us. Our only response is surrender.

“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10)

As we mature in Christ we will be changed. We will grow in His likeness are promised to arrive in His presence – complete in Him. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

In Christ, we are pleasing to God. We are called to a life of freedom and rest. You are the righteousness of God – in Christ. You are complete – in Him. Therefore, rest – in Him relax in His grace, and let Him change your life.

He that is Born of God

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits (goes on willfully practicing) sin also commits (goes on willfully practicing) lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He (Jesus) was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not (go on willfully practicing) sin. Whoever (goes on willfully practicing) sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who (goes on willfully practicing) sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not (go on willfully practicing) sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot (go on willfully practicing) sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:1-10)

Will God Yet Judge the World? (Romans 3:6)

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. (John 1:12)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16-21)

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” (Romans 1:18-19)

“…the Lord Jesus Christ, …will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.” ( 2 Timothy 4:1)

Salvation is freely offered to all through the grace of God, by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sinful man may be made clean and presented complete and holy in the presence of the Lord. “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Fellowship with God may be restored and the curse of sin and death totally removed.

Jesus Christ provides, by grace through faith alone, all man lost. We are blessed to receive eternal life in exchange for the death we deserve.

He has provided Himself an offering for sin.

Jesus Christ is God. He came to earth as man and suffered the penalty for sin, making it possible for you and I to escape the wrath to come and receive life and forgiveness of sin.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:17, 21)

Blessings to you all,

Pastor Paul