What is guilt? What is the price of sin?
“The wages of sin is death,” says Paul. (Romans 6:23) In the Bible, the eventual punishment for every form of sin is death. It's the only punishment—there is no other.
Seems harsh, doesn't it? Is it hard to understand? I mean, death for a murderer, maybe we can understand, but death for a liar?
I had a friend in high school that applied for Harvard. He was valedictorian, had a 6.0 GPA, scored perfect on every college placement exam he could get his hands on—you know the type. He was a genius!, and since he wanted to study law, Harvard seemed pretty natural.
He was turned down cold—couldn't even get his foot in the door.
My friends were all amazed, but I said, 'Hey! It's Harvard. There are how many thousands of high school students each year for them to choose from?' They had high standards. It's why he wanted to go in the first place. If they ever lowered their standards, their academic level would suffer, and their reputation in the academic world would be ruined.
On the other hand, Austin Community College even accepted me into their program. Needless to say, their academic standards are fairly forgiving.
At any rate, we dispense law in our country as seems fit to us, based on the standards we set for our society: You can't kill people. You can't attack people. You can't steal from people. In general, these principles seem fair to us, and we try to establish punishments that fit the severity of the crime committed.
Imagine that our society is Austin Community College. We accept just about anybody in our society, even murderers and thieves, because our standards of morality are pretty forgiving.
Now imagine that God is the ethical equivalent of Harvard University. He can't accept just anybody even if He wants to, because His standards are set extremely high. If He did start accepting anybody that came to Him, He would have to lower His standards, and that would ruin His ethical standing in the world.
Is that even possible? Can you even imagine a world where the Creator of the world did not stand for good and for order? The Law of Entropy says that everything in our universe begins in order and reverts to chaos. Who is that beginning or order but the Creator of the universe? What if that Creator suddenly stopped standing for order?
Gadzooks! Meganoito! What in the world!? Would everything in creation suddenly fly apart if the Source of our order ever failed us?
It can't happen—it mustn't happen! We can't let it happen! Would it even be worth it, the destruction of the universe, for God to drop His standards for even a single wrongdoing?
No way! What, are you crazy?!
But we know that God wants, longs, yearns that everyone come to Him and be with Him—we see that in Ezekiel 18, in Hosea 11, in 2 Peter 3, in John 3:16, in so many other places. At the end of Ezekiel 18, He pleads: “Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (18:31-32)
And that's the secret to God's plan for fellowship with man, right there: a new heart and a new spirit. It's the new covenant He promised in Jeremiah 31:31, the new covenant that the author of Hebrews mentions in verse 15. The only requirement for this covenant is that someone should die in place of the offender. Under the old covenant that God made with the children of Israel, that place was taken by goats and calves—but how could the blood of an unknowing, helpless animal ever truly substitute for the blood of a knowing, fully responsible human being?
There's just no way. Anybody can see that.
For this reason, Christ came to seal the new covenant with His own blood—given knowingly and willingly, without sin or offense of His own to redeem. A perfect life lived for us, to show us the heart of God; a perfect life given for us, to cleanse our hearts for God; a perfect life resurrected for us, to bring us all into the heart of God through that resurrection.
Jesus couldn't have done it alone. N'est-ce pas?
Jesus could not have done it alone. If you learn anything from His life, see that He lived to give the Father the glory. God was with Christ, and God raised Him up from the dead so that He could redeem us forever with His blood.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (v. 22b) This is a given principle of the Bible, a foundational law of creation. It was true for Adam and Eve, true in the time of Abraham, true in Moses' day, true when Jesus came, and it still holds true for us today. We, as they, achieve our ultimate forgiveness through the blood of Christ. All He asks is that we put our faith in Him enough to take up our own burden for Him.
Am I willing to bear the burden of Christ on my heart today, or will I choose my own purposes? He lived and died for me, so that I may gain the ultimate reward. Am I going to live and die with Him, so that I may gain that reward; or would I rather work for my own wages?
I pray Jesus might help me to choose.