Monday, September 4, 2017

Sin and Christ’s Atoning Work

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The work of redemption is that which Jesus accomplished for us. In theology this is called the atoning work of Christ, or simply the Atonement. The atoning work of Jesus Christ was made necessary by human sin, and there are three aspects of sin that we need to consider.

First, sin is a failure to do what we are obligated to do. God as Creator has given us responsibilities for which He holds us accountable. If we fail to carry out these responsibilities, we incur a debt.

Next, sin is an expression of enmity, a violation of the personal relationship human beings are supposed to have with their Creator. When we sin against God we break that relationship. We express not love and devotion to Him but rather a kind of hostility that is serious and must be addressed.

Finally, the Presbyterian Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” In modern English that means any time we break the law of God, we sin.

We have to keep these three concepts of sin clearly in mind if we are going to understand what is necessary to restore a relationship between God and fallen humanity. If a crime has been committed, then we have to deal with penal sanctions. If a debt has been incurred, then we have to come to grips with what we call pecuniary sanctions. Enmity has to do with personal relationships, and these need to be healed.

If I steal $1,000 from a man, I may not feel that I owe him anything, but I do. I may not feel that I have committed a crime, but I have. I may not feel that I’ve acted in a hostile fashion toward him, but he feels it. Whether I realize it or not, a bad situation exists, one that must be corrected or else I will suffer for it. Sooner or later, sin must be dealt with. God will hold each responsible to render a life’s account.

Whether men feel the need to be reconciled to God or not, the fact is they are facing a God who is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The Bible tells us that a proper fear of this God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Today ask God to give you a proper fear of His intolerance of sin, that you might cling to Jesus and His Atonement with greater desperation.