29 Jun Why Couldn’t God Just Forgive Our Sins?
We just finished studying the book of Hebrews as a church where arguably the main point of the entire book can be boiled down to: Jesus is better.
The author uses Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, the Tabernacle, and more to make the point that Jesus is a truer and better version of what existed before.
When it comes to understanding God’s forgiveness and the role of His Son’s death, there is no difference. Jesus provides a way for a truer and better forgiveness, but it has to come in the same fashion it has always come in—shedding of blood.
“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” – Hebrews 9:22
This verse can come across to our progressive culture as archaic. The death penalty feels harsh while the act of tolerance feels “in”. Payment for a sin feels unnecessary when someone could just say “you are forgiven,” and it could be completed. So why doesn’t God just say we are forgiven and spare the life of His Son?
The reason is that someone has to pay for the debt that we have incurred against God.
“. . . our sin against God is much worse than not being a perfect person.”
For example, if someone holds up a gas station and steals $3,000, someone has to pay for the loss. Either the thief is found and the money returned, or the shop owner forgives them and takes the debt on himself. Either way, there is payment.
In our case, we have stolen a lot more than $3,000. We are creatures made in the image of God and designed to live a life of love, purity, morality, charity, and even glory that reflects our Creator. However, I’m speaking from experience here, we have fallen incredibly short of a perfect life. The good things we desire to do on a regular basis rarely get done—even small things like putting the trash out on the curb on time.
However, our sin against God is much worse than not being a perfect person. C.S. Lewis says, “Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms..”
“We are creatures made in the image of God and designed to live a life of love, purity, morality, charity, and even glory that reflects our Creator.”
What he means is that humanity has taken up a fight against God. We have declared ourselves the most important person in this world and we live, work, and play like the world should bend to our will and whim. When we declare that ourselves, we are standing against our Creator shaking our fists at Him saying, “don’t get in our way.” Don’t mess with the life I want to live the way I want to live it, and if you do, there will be consequences. We take up arms.
The best illustration of this is God sending His son. God sent Him and man killed Him. While reading the gospel narratives you see clearly the reason man killed Jesus is because Jesus was stealing the glory from man. His miracles, love, and teaching were getting in the way of people doing life their own way. So although it was God’s plan, man took up arms against Jesus and nailed Him to a cross.
Humanity shed the blood of God’s only Son mainly due to our pride. Whether you identify with the pride that caused the death of Jesus or not, the truth is we all identify with choosing ourselves over others. Our default setting is to choose self over God. We constantly steal from God by promoting ourselves and living a life focused on getting what we want out of this world.
“So although it was God’s plan, man took up arms against Jesus and nailed Him to a cross.”
That being said someone has to pay, so God has two choices in light of Hebrews 9:22—the shedding of our blood or the shedding of blood of a truer and better person, someone who was without sin and perfect in every way. God being not only a just God, but a gracious one, chose to shed the blood of the latter. He shed the blood of His Son because someone had to pay the debt, and in the greatest act of love and forgiveness, He chose Himself.
Without payment, there is no justice for a theft, and without the shedding of blood, there can be no ultimate forgiveness for humanity.
–Will Plonk, Downtown Campus Pastor