Friday, August 12, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What's in it for me (part 2)

In the last post in this series we looked at some of the things that are ours because of the cross. Here are a few more.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Through Jesus' death on the cross we have been made righteous; not a righteousness based on the law but one based on faith. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) This righteousness is by faith in that it is not based on our own good works; we are righteous apart from keeping the law. This is what Paul meant when he said,
"What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. " (Romans 9:30-32)
This is not to say that our behavior is not important, but only that we do not obey the law to become righteous rather we seek to live righteously to express the righteousness of Christ that we have already become. We are made righteous by faith and now called to live out that righteousness with God and man.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" —  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14)
Not only are we given a righteousness that is not based upon the law but we have also been freed from the law that we might live according to the law of Christ. Jesus came to establish a new covenant with mankind. However, we are not free to join ourselves with the new covenant as long as we are bound to the old.
"Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:4-6)
Jesus freed us from the law not by abolishing the law but by fulfilling it, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) and by paying the price for our sins that the law demands. Because Jesus died for us on the cross we are now free to live for Him in a new covenant.
"'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. 'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 'They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the Lord, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'" (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
More to come... David Robison

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