No one wants to talk about sin these days. I don’t want talk about sin, either. Okay, what is sin? Not sins, but sin. Sin is a state of wrongness. It is the opposite of rightness, or the old word, righteousness. There is a strange line in the ancient book of Daniel. It say that the coming one, the Messiah, will deal with sin in a final way. Daniel also prophesied when this Messiah would come. And it was about the time Jesus showed up. So according to Daniel or rather his prophesy, Jesus would deal with sin in a dramatic and final way, he would atone for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness. It also says he will be cut off and have nothing. John the Baptist says that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So, how did Jesus do all this? How was he the lamb of God?
We know what happened. Jesus told his disciples that sinful men would take him and kill him. He also gave other predictions of what this would mean. We grab on to the part about forgiveness. But there is more. More? God can forgive sins. But look at what happened. Jesus, who no one could say was bad. Not Pilate, nor any fair-minded people in Israel. Who could say that he did anything bad? The final accusation was that he claimed to be the Messiah.
Jesus, the Messiah, did not resist them. He let them do their worst to him. Crucifixion was a dreadful punishment and it was only for the enemies of the Roman Empire. It had been designed to bring fear into any heart. If someone had gone against Rome, they could be executed in this terrible way. But Pilate said Jesus was not an enemy of Rome. He asked Jesus what they had against him. They wanted him crucified. And Pilate agreed to allow it. They threated a riot if he didn’t. He had several recent uprisings in Israel and he didn’t need another one.
They leaders hated Jesus so bad that when Pilate asked them to say that Caesar was their one and only leader, they did. Well, Pilate says, I don’t condemn this man but you can have him killed in this way. They agreed it was their responsibility.
Once a man was given to the Romans in charge of this gruesome punishment, it was all over. He was on his way to a slow and humiliating death.
The men who did this were heartless. They did their job without mercy. They took a man and destroyed his body in the most horrible way.
But let us step back and think about it in a different way. How could men do this? They had to get rid of all kindness and goodness from their hearts. They had to regard another human as completely worthless. They behaved like fiends in hell as the went about their work. Not only was this man being removed from human society but he was made an example that made ordinary people shudder as they went past.
How can a person do this? Again, they had to regard a fellow human as completely worthless. They have to become evil and then more evil. And they got paid to do it. And the men who got Pilate to do this came to taunt him. Now that he was powerless, as they thought, they could heap scorn on him. They came to mock him. The scene is too gross to imagine. An innocent man being treated this way. This was what sin had done to these men. It had made them without human feeling. It had brought Jew and Roman together to do a terrible thing: to give a man the worst punishment they could conceive of and watch him die slowly as a spectacle. The man suffered as you watched. Who would deserve such treatment? Who could be any part of this?
But this is sin in action. Sin can bring a person to a point where they don’t care about a fellow human being. This was not done in rage but was calculated. We can go back to Cain and what he had to become to kill his brother. He stopped caring about his brother. He didn’t care what it would do to their parents. And the men who got Jesus killed and actually killed him were in the same state. This was humans acting worse than devils.
Now, do you want to come to this state? Do you want to become without human feeling? This is what sin does to a person. They become capable of the most horrifying acts against a helpless human being. This is what Jesus showed us by giving himself over to sinful men. He showed us what sin was really like in action. This was a terrible punishment to a evil man but to this good man? It is almost too much to take in.
What can we do? We can move to other side. We can join God and want to be those people who are kind and good. And we need God to change us for this. We can’t become these truly good people by ourselves. Jesus said that no one was good but God. He said, “I always do the will of the Father.” God is the only truly good being. We can be changed into good people by him. But we must then love what he loves. And want what he wants. We must become like him.
Impossible, huh? Can’t be done, you say. I would agree except for one thing. This is the very plan of God: to bring people to his side, to bring them into his family, to impress upon us the family likeness of goodness. Yes, to make us good people. This was his idea from the start: to make human beings that are truly good from the inside out. We got off to a bad start a long time ago. But we can return to God, one at a time. Each one of us can be transformed into good people.
How can it be done? The method is love. God is moved by love toward us to rescue us from the damage sin causes in us. We don’t even know how bad it is. It’s like you go to a doctor for a check up and they run some tests and tell you that you are going to die from a disease. It doesn’t seem possible.
Really, Doc? Is there a cure?”
“Yes,” he says, “but you have to go to this specialist and do exactly as he says.”
Who is it? God. Only God can change us inside.
And the way we begin to be cured of sin is by loving God. He doesn’t charge us for this treatment. Jesus says, I am the cure. Be like me. Love God and do his will all the time.
How can I? Well, you ask God for his help. He will give you his cure for sin. It is an inward change that is energized by his Spirit. You become different. You can’t do it by yourself and need God’s help for all of it except one part. You have to ask. He will not force anything on you. You are free. You can choose him or not.
And he does not take over. No, not a bit. You must keep choosing him every day. Your will must choose his will.
“How do I know what that is?”
You know some of it. Be kind to people. Show mercy. Forgive them. Don’t judge others.
But, hey, anyone can give you good advice. God is the only one that can empower you to do good.
Ask him for his help. He will treat you like his own child that he loves. He will do all he can to enable you to become a wonderful person. Anything you feel you don’t have, he will give it to you.
The attributes of God are summed up as love. But each situation you are in can be changed because you are being changed in the process. Jesus was full of the Spirit. We can be too. This is the great gift of God. The power to be like him in character. To become good people who never take credit for their goodness because they know all goodness is a gift from God.