"Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live." (Deuteronomy 30:6)Forgiveness existed long before the new covenant was established through Jesus' blood. A large portion of the law, and its prescribed pattern of worship, was meant explicitly to provide for forgiveness.
"He shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer first that which is for the sin offering and shall nip its head at the front of its neck, but he shall not sever it. He shall also sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, while the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar: it is a sin offering. The second he shall then prepare as a burnt offering according to the ordinance. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it will be forgiven him." (Leviticus 5:8-10)So if forgiveness was available under the old covenant, why did Jesus have to come and die for our sins, and why was there a need for a new covenant? The key is to understand the nature of sin. Sin is not primarily transactional; it not based primarily on what we do; rather sin is a condition of the heart. John said, "Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4) He did not say that sin was the transgression of the law but rather that sin was lawlessness; it was not an act but was a condition of the heart. While we may from time to time commit sinful acts, we are always sinners. Even when we sleep we are sinners because hour heart is sinful, even if for the moment we are not doing something specifically sinful.
Paul, writing to believers, reminded them, "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions." (Colossians 2:13) Notice we are dead spiritually because of our transgressions and the uncircumcision of our heart. It is not enough just to have our transgressions forgiven but we need to have our heart renewed. We need to be circumcised in our hearts as Moses prophesied so long ago. That is why Paul reminds us, "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Hebrews 10:4) The blood of bulls and goats can provide forgiveness but it can never heal a sinful heart. Without the circumcision of our heart, we may be forgiven, but we will forever remain slaves of sin.
That is why we need Jesus. Not only for the forgiveness of our sins but also for the redemption of our heart; for the putting to death of our sinful nature; for the obtaining of a new heart that is able to obey God. We need more than forgiveness, we need freedom. This is why the Father sent Jesus to die for us. "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4) Jesus came to free us from our sin; from a sinful heart; to reconcile us back to God and to enable us to serve God with our whole heart; a clean and renewed heart. This is why we need Jesus and this is why He came.
"But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." (Hebrews 9:26-28)David Robison
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