Sin and The Cross CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Many of the eternal consequences of sin have been dealt with at the cross of Calvary. Take for instance, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” [Rom 6:23]. When we are saved, we now have eternal life. Through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those of us who die before Jesus returns will live and those who are alive when he returns will never die [Jn 11:25-26, 1 Cor 15:50-55; 1 Thes 4:16-17]. And we will never be in the lake of fire [Rev 20:15; Rev 21:8]. Praise the Lord.
You heard, this weekend, about the doctrine of eternal forgiveness. And you heard that this forgiveness unconditionally covers the sins of Christians past, present and future. And some of you have been refreshed and some of you have been confused by this teaching. In truth, you must be careful with the statement that Jesus unconditionally forgave your sins past, present and future. He paid for them, that’s certain. God “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” [2 Cor 5:21].
You could get the impression, as others already have, that you can commit any sin you want and jump back in the loving arms of God because you have already been forgiven. That’s not what you have been taught. However, what you have been taught thus far could lead you to presume upon the forgiveness of God and think, “I know he has forgiven me, so I’m okay to do ‘whatever.’” Remember, people do what they want to do and justify it. Our guest preacher is not there yet. But this doctrine bears fruit if it is not properly understood and balanced with what you will hear in this sermon.
The doctrine of eternal forgiveness is based on the new covenant that God made with Israel in Jer 31:31-34. The new covenant is a covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It is a Jewish covenant. It was prophesied by Jeremiah, it was instituted at Calvary and it will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and Israel is saved [Rom 11:25-27]. Therefore, Jesus said, “salvation is of the Jews,” [Jn 4:22].
Israel’s forgiveness under this covenant is conditioned upon their repentance. Acts 5:31 says, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Though this is a Jewish covenant, Gentiles get in on it because of Israel’s unbelief in Jesus. Read Eph 2:11-13 and notice that we were “strangers from the covenants of promise” but “now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Paul preached repentance in connection with the salvation that we receive when he preached to the Gentiles. Read his testimony before Agrippa in Acts 26:18-20. He said, “that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” In Acts 20:21 he told the elders of Ephesus that he testified, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, repentance is the condition for forgiveness.
However, even when there is repentance and forgiveness, there are consequences of sin that the cross doesn’t take care of.
In Heb 13:4, Paul said, in the context of marriage between Christians, “but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” You can clearly see the effects of this judgment in Eph 5:1-6. Paul says to the children of God, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, not unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” In other words, a child of God can be a whoremonger, for instance, or a covetous man and lose his inheritance. He won’t lose his salvation, but he will lose his inheritance. Forgiveness and the cross won’t take care of this loss. And notice, this loss is an eternal consequence of sin.
In Acts 5:3-5, 10-11, Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead for lying to the Holy Ghost. They were saved and secure, but the cross didn’t stop their death. And fear came upon all the church. This fear of the Lord was good for the church because, “by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil,” [Prov 16:6].
In 1 Cor 10:5-12 we read Paul’s admonitions to Christians to not lust after evil things, be idolaters, commit fornication, tempt Christ, or murmur, based upon the fact that God killed some of the Jews in the wilderness for these things. The cross doesn’t cover these temporal consequences of sin.
In 1 Cor 5:1-5, a young man committed fornication with his father’s wife. Paul instructed the Corinthians to remove him from the church and he delivered the young man to “Satan for the destruction of the flesh.” This is a terrible consequence of sin. We’ll return to Corinthians to see what happened to this fellow but first we must look at what God often does when we sin.
In Heb 12:5-11, we see that God chastens us when we sin. You know his chastening can be severe, if we would be inclined to “despise” it. He rebukes us and he scourges us (out of love), and “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.” The doctrine of eternal forgiveness might seek to dry the tears of those who have sinned, but tears and grief are the natural consequence of the chastening of God.
God chastens us not to get even, but “that we might be partakers of his holiness… afterward it yielded the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” From 2 Cor 5:21 we see that because of salvation “we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Therefore, through chastening you yield to the righteousness of Jesus in you, and the fruit of his righteousness allows you to partake of his holiness.
Let’s look at what happened to the fornicator in 1 Cor 5. The whole church was affected by the discipline. They “sorrowed to repentance,” and they “were made sorry after a godly manner,” [2 Cor 7:9]. 2 Cor 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Sin will make you sorry, for sure, but they went further. They repented with a godly sorrow. As our guest preacher preached, they were sorry for what they did to God.
And look at the carefulness, clearing of themselves, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal and revenge that followed their repentance [ 2. Cor 7:11]. They were clear in this matter. That’s what needs to happen in repentance. This young fellow got in a right relationship with God. According to 2 Cor 2:6-11, the church punished him, and when he got straightened out, they forgave him and they confirmed their love toward him. Paul also forgave him so that Satan couldn’t get an advantage of them. You see, repentance is the condition of forgiveness. And all of this stuff that happened to the church and to the young man because of his sin went beyond what Christ did at the cross.
Look at one more example in 2 Tim 2:24-26. Sin can put you in the snare of the devil. He can take you captive at his will. If you’re going to get out, God has to give you “repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” if he will. And even then, you still have to recover yourself out of the snare. The cross didn’t take care of any of these consequences.
The cross is where Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures [1 Cor 15:1-4]. This is where our sins were paid for. But God doesn’t just want us to look at Calvary and remember what Christ did and the forgiveness we have because of his shed blood, he wants us to take our place on the cross. In Gal 2:20, Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” On the cross is where we are crucified to the world and the world is crucified to us [Gal 6:14]. On the cross is where we yield to the righteousness of Jesus Christ and become a servant to his righteousness and not to sin [Rom 6:11-18]. The cross is where we find not only forgiveness of sins but, more importantly, victory over sin where it doesn’t have dominion over us.