Person X has sinned. They feel guilty. They feel dirty. They feel helpless to deal with their burden. What can wash away their sin? ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus!’ On Good Friday we remember God’s plan to address sin. The Cross is where Jesus died the death we deserve to die so that—in faith—we might be justified, or declared right (‘righteous’) in God’s sight.
The Bible famously uses a number of pictures to convey justification. Here are three:
Covered (Exodus 12:13)- The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Cleansed (Ps 51:7)- Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Cleared Off (Ps 103:12)- as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
In each picture the guilt or penalty of sin is pictured as wonderfully and vividly removed from us. When we are in Christ we no longer stand condemned (Ro 4:6–8, 8:1, 33–4) but rather forgiven, just. Still more Christ’s righteousness is imputed (credited) to us so that in God’s sight not only are we not guilty but are righteous (Isa 61:10; R 5:19). All of our sins, past, present and future, are covered, cleansed and cleared off.
But this doesn’t mean sin does not exist in our lives. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin but is addressing the power of sin through imparted righteousness. Here He gives us His life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45) so that we might be sanctified in actual fact. This too is wonderful news. Not only does Jesus impute righteousness, He also imparts it. He gives us the tools to deal with sin in our life, we are not alone.
And the end of the story is just as grand as its beginning, a day when the believer will be free from not only the penalty and power of sin but even its very presence (Rev 22).
Far too many needlessly labour under the burden of sin when imputed and imparted righteousness are offered in Jesus. He can and will cover, cleanse and clear off our sin when we come to Him in repentance and faith so that we may live a life free from guilt, free to live as God intended.
At the cross at the cross
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.