The Result of the Sacrifice of Christ
1. We are forgiven of sin and redeemed from its power.
“In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us,” (Ephesians 1:7,8a).
Jesus bore the sin that separated sinners from a holy God and received the punishment due to sinners. Now, those who repent of sin and place their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus are not only forgiven of sin but also purified of its pollution and redeemed from its power. Redemption means to buy back. Through the blood of Christ we have been purchased, bought back by God from sin's destruction and from satanic control over our lives.
God removes our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). That is a way of saying that our sins, and the resulting condemnation and punishment, are removed an eternal distance from our lives. Sin, when forgiven by God, can no more come back upon us than east can meet west.
2. We are reconciled to God
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
We are now reconciled to God because that which separated us from Him, our sin, has been removed by the sacrifice of Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God. In the temple, there was a thick veil separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter once a year. But when Jesus died, the veil was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51), signifying the access of forgiven, reconciled sinners into the presence of the Holy God.
3. We are brought into the kingdom of God.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption the forgiveness of our sins” (Colossians 1:13,14).
Our sin not only separated us from God but also placed us within the dominion, the jurisdiction of Satan’s rule. Now, forgiven of our sin and reconciled to God, we have been brought into the gracious rule of Christ. Satan no longer has rulership over our lives. Jesus does.
4. We are justified by God
To be justified is to be declared not guilty, acquitted of guilt and declared righteous or just. This is possible because on the cross, Jesus took our sin, God’s judgment of our sin and the penalty for our sin upon Himself as He offered Himself as a sin offering in our place. Therefore a perfectly holy God is able to declare us to be just, justified, righteous.
None of us, neither Jew nor Gentile, by our own religious works or good deeds, can make ourselves righteous or just before a holy God. Only God can make us just. “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:20,23,24).
God gave us the Law of Moses to show us that we could never fulfill the Law according to God’s standard of perfection, could never make ourselves just through Law keeping, since no one but Christ has lived a perfect life. The Law was given to show us our need for a Savior. Now we are justified, not by keeping the Law, which we could not do, but through faith in Christ: “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ” (Galatians 2:16).
How can a holy, just God declare a sinner to be just? If a human judge declared a criminal to be just, we would rightly consider that judge to be corrupt. How can a holy God do that? Only because, as we have said, on the cross Jesus, as our Substitute, bore our sin, our injustice, God’s judgment of our sin and the death penalty which that sin incurred. When we place our faith and trust in that which Jesus did for us, God is able to declare us to be just without violating His justice. God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
What an incredible transaction! All the evil consequences due to humanity because of our sin came upon Jesus so that all the good due to Jesus through His sinless existence might come upon us.
God, the holy and righteous Judge, because of the sacrifice of Christ, forgives the sinner, declares the sinner to be just and righteous, views the forgiven sinner as just and righteous.
5. We are spiritually regenerated.
The Apostle Peter reminds us, “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:23). What word of God can move us from death to life? The Apostle Paul reveals specifically what word of God has the power to resurrect us and bring us new life, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18).
Separated from God by sin, we were spiritually dead. But when the life giving word of the cross penetrates our hearts and causes us to turn from our sin and place our faith in the sacrifice of Christ as the atoning sacrifice for our sin, the Lord regenerates our dead spirit. We are born anew by the power of God contained in His life-giving word, as Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). We are regenerated by the power of God as the word of God, the word of the cross, penetrates our hearts and moves us to repentance and faith.
6. We become new creations in Christ.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Spiritually regenerated in Christ, forgiven of sin, declared just before God, we are new creations progressively being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
7. We share the righteousness of Christ.
We are not only declared to be just / righteous — we also are gradually, progressively made righteous by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the cross, Jesus took our sin that we might share His righteousness. He was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness.
This exchange is pictured in Isaiah 61:10, “He has clothed me in the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” God takes away the filthy garments of our sin and clothes us in salvation. He covers us with His righteousness while progressively transforming our inner being into the righteous, holy image of Christ:
This transformation will not be completed in this life but God has promised to perfectly fulfill that which He has begun in us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phlpns. 1:6). We share the righteousness of Christ and are being progressively transformed into His righteous image.
8. We have peace with God
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 see also Colossians 1:19,20). Having been forgiven of sin and declared righteous, we have peace with God. God will not make peace with sin. Only when sin is dealt with — and it was on the cross in Jesus — then God can make peace with us.
9. We share in the life of Christ.
Jesus died our death that we might share His life: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). What does Jesus mean by abundant life? He means that we share in His life: everlasting life, meaningful life, unending life, the life of God. This is a future hope and a present reality: “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and does not come into judgment but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
“For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
10. We are delivered from this present age and from this world system.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:3,4).
The Greek word translated age is aion which is not simply a period of time but the values and perspectives that define that time. It is the same word used in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this age / aion has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.” Why do we need to be delivered from this age? Because it is evil. It is evil because it is dominated by Satan. He is said to be the god of this age in the sense that his corrupt, evil values have been incarnated into people who then incarnate these values into the political and economic systems, artistic expressions, cultural customs, imaginations, philosophies and false religions which characterize and form human society.
Jesus spoke of this present age as something that is coming to an end, impermanent, “So shall it be at the end of the age …” (Matthew 13:49). This age is coming to an end because it is evil. It is evil because it is dominated by Satan and therefore it is temporary, corrupt and dying and we are of another age that is incorruptible and everlasting.
God’s program is not merely to depose Satan but to terminate the age. As long as this age continues, Satan will be the ruler of this age. When the age terminates, Satan will no longer rule. This is the reason Satan does everything in his power to prevent the present age from coming to an end. He persecutes the church because the church is God’s instrument to proclaim the gospel as God brings this age to its conclusion.
But even now we are sharing in another age that is incorruptible and everlasting. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of those who “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age /aion to come” (Hebr. 6:5). God wants to spoil our taste for the powers of this age, wants us to taste something so totally different and superior that we will never again be enamored with the powers of this age. Though we have not been physically removed from this age, we have been rescued from its domination through the cross of Christ.
Paul said, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Though we still live in this world, we are delivered from its lordship.
The Greek word for world is kosmos, which refers to the world system ruled by Satan and the principalities of darkness. The kosmos is comprised of the governmental, economic, cultural and religious systems into which the powers of darkness have incarnated their perverse, anti-Christ values and purposes and which refuse and resist the righteous government of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible tell us about the world / kosmos?
a. “The whole world / kosmos lies in the power of the evil one” (I John 5:19).
b. The world is in violent rebellion against its Creator. Jesus told two parables in which He portrayed the hatred of this world for its Creator (Matthew 22:1-14 Luke 19:1-14).
c. “The world is passing away,” (I John. 2:17). This kosmos, this world system is impermanent, fading, temporary, corrupt and crumbling.
d. The world is under God’s judgment. In 2 Peter 2:5 (and 3:6) we read that the world which existed in Noah’s day perished under the judgment of God. The physical earth did not perish. What perished was a sociological order — a world / kosmos that was not submitted to the righteousness of God. This world order will also perish under God’s judgment (see, for instance, Revelation chapters 15 through 19).
Though God has delivered us from the seducing power of this world, we must actively resist its influence. We are able to resist conformity to the world because, having surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, we have been crucified to the world. The world has not been finally put to death but in our identification with the cross of Christ, our affection for the world has been put to death.
Paul reminds us, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” (Col 3:3). The corollary to being dead to the world is that we are alive in Christ, living in union with the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord.
The cross of Jesus stands between the world and the Christian. From that cross flows the grace that enables us to live in forgiven, reconciled peace with God. Dead to this dying age and world, we are alive as new creations in Christ forevermore.
1. What does it mean to be justified?
2. What does it mean to be delivered from this present age?
3. How does the reality of God’s forgiveness impact your worship of Him?