Since I write about the atonement almost every time I open this blog, I’m not sure I can come up with anything original this afternoon. Yet this is Good Friday, and it would be shameful to ignore Christ’s wonderful work of substitutionary atonement on the cross.
For 20 centuries, theologians and pastors have filled libraries and sanctuaries with words detailing every aspect of Christ’s crucifixion and its amazing implications, always causing Bible-believing Christians to rejoice that the very Second Person of the Trinity, God in Human flesh, would willingly accept the wrath of His Father in order to pay the penalty for our sinfulness. Frankly, I don’t think many of us (including myself) have the capacity to comprehend the enormity of His sacrifice.
There are two reasons I see for our insensitivity to the wonder that the Lord of all creation willingly took our sin on Himself, even though He Himself had lived a life of sinless perfection despite being tempted in all ways. In the first place. we have tremendous difficulty accepting the fact that our sins make us completely unacceptable to God. We convince ourselves that surely the good we do can outweigh any bad. Essentially, we operate under the false assumption that we can atone for our shortcomings (what few of them we have.)
Isaiah 64:6 easily addresses that attitude, however:
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (ESV)
And this Scripture leads right into the second reason for our inability to grasp the full implications of Christ’s death on our behalf. God, because of His holiness, considers our supposedly righteous deeds as polluted (literally as menstrual rags) in comparison with His holiness. And, to be honest, few of us have any idea how holy He really is!
I believe that we regard the Lord a bit flippantly, and as a consequence we don’t understand the scope of His holiness. For this reason, we sometimes tend to think that any sins we commit are really minor infractions that shouldn’t bother Him all that much. We have absolutely no concept of how pure the Lord actually is, and how greatly our sin offends Him.
This Good Friday is nearing its close, but it reminds me that I need to deepen my appreciation of God’s holiness. As I learn more about His purity, His Holy Spirit will teach me what it meant for this righteous God to take my sin, as well as the sin of everyone who would ever believe in Him, upon Himself. In His holiness, I accurately recognize the horrendous gravity of my sin, as well as the necessity of His sacrifice to atone fir it. And, praise the Lord, in that holiness, I see His generous love.