Sunday 25 April
1 Peter chapter 2:24 and chapter 3:17-22
Called to be cleansed and made sinless
Words and their meaning pose a number of difficulties to many of us e.g. When I was younger, something wicked was bad and evil, whereas now some folk think a wicked thing is really cool. When we in the UK go to a Chemist, in the US they go to a drug-store and whereas our cars have a bonnet and boot, theirs have a hood and a trunk. All four of those words have other meanings too for example bonnet/hat; boot/kick or footwear; hood/for your head or a thug; trunk/suitcase or elephant’s nose.
Added in to the mix is a different understanding of phrases or opinions. Here's an example,
A girl aged six came home from school and told her mother, ‘Our class got a new hamster today, and it’s a girl hamster.’ ‘That’s nice,’ her mother replied, and with some caution asked, ‘How do you know it’s a girl? ‘We took vote… and the girls won.’
Living in times where dishonesty and corruption is not unusual, for example by many of our politicians, ignoring or redefining or deflecting the truth in order to project their own morality and values and as they often attempt to enforce these upon the rest of us e.g., some people try to deal with guilt by deflecting it and attempting to ignore it or trying to forget it; where others think by confessing it you are absolved from it, end of story.
A man who was told that he was dying decided it was time to clear his conscience. He called the police to confess to a murder. Having confessed, he began to feel better. Surprisingly due to an amazing new surgery technique he recovered. As he left hospital, the Police arrested him and charged him with the murder; in his country the penalty for murder was death.
Sin always has consequences even for those who deny it or want to push the concept of sin into some box that they intend never to open.
As Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But God wants us all to know that there is a brilliant solution for sin. It was into a sinful world, where people carry guilt that God sent His only beloved Son Jesus, who unlike every other human being was and is sinless and free from all guilt.
The Great Good News is that He says to all of us who are sinners and know it, ‘Come to me… and you will find rest…’ Matthew 11:28
This section of 1st Peter highlights why Jesus came and suffered the horrible death on the Cross. So here are four things of note:
1. Jesus suffered once for sins, verse 18.
Which sins you may ask? The answer is all sins, past, present and future. Sin causes guilt because we have broken God’s Laws. We in turn deserve punishment but we cannot pay the price required of us, which is death of a righteous one.
So, God sends Jesus to die for us all. That way God takes care of our debt. All we have to do is submit to His gracious offer and receive the complete forgiveness of all our sin in order to be guilt free and counted as righteous in God’s sight i.e., able to live in a right and positive relationship with God.
2. Jesus suffered once for sins, verse 18.
The Greek words used here are “Hapax legomena” and mean, Once, for all time - Finished. So back in chapter 2:14 Peter told us that Jesus bore our sins in His body on the Cross. Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”. On the Cross Jesus endured far more horror than the nails, the hanging there in the hot sun or the mocking from below. For a period of time, Jesus was separated from God the Father to address the alienation that is between sin-filled people and a holy God.
3. “the righteous for the unrighteous” verse 18
God telegraphed this plan in the Old Testament when the priests sacrificed spotless lambs for the sins of the people. The lamb did not deserve to die, yet it was accepted by God as atonement for the peoples’ sin.
We sometimes hear the phrase God does not hate sinners, but he abhors sins. Since God is a just God, a price has to be paid as a penalty for sin.
In human justice systems, sometimes people serve a prison sentence and in some countries the death penalty is served. The Old Testament way required repeat sacrifices, with something acceptable to God but since Jesus is righteous, therefore perfect, He is a one-time sacrifice for all sin the righteous for the unrighteous.
No amount of doing good works or charitable giving, no amount of doing rituals like communion can make us holy and right with God. Thankfully we are counted as righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice, when we submit fully to God and ask Him to be our LORD and Master, he fills and guides us through His Holy Spirit now within us. In Isaiah 53:5 it says “By His wounds you are healed”. In 2 Corinthians 5:21(again) Paul writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God".
4. ‘To bring you to God’ verse 18
Since Jesus the righteous one took all our sins upon Himself as His sacrifice, paying with His life, it fully met God’s justice requirements. That’s great news indeed. Jesus knew what He was doing and did so in order that we can become right with God.
Our sin can be fully dealt with, so now we can be brought into God’s presence without being counted as unholy beings.
If you have not already discovered this to be true for you, you might well be thinking, how can I know this to be true? The disciple John writes: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9
So, there is a fair chance that a number of people who are listening to this message have not already gone these two steps – yes two steps.
Firstly, we need to be truly honest with God and confess our unrighteousness and sin, and admit our inability to make things right with our Holy God, further, asking for His forgiveness and the righteousness of Jesus to atone for all our sin.
Second, we invite Him to not only cleanse us of all impurity, but to fill us with His Holy Spirit, to enable us to know His presence and guidance in our lives from that point on.
My prayer is that no one who hears this truth will put off making this most fabulous transaction of being brought to God, knowing that they are clean of all guilt and shame, counted as sinless for all eternity and now are a child of the living God, heirs to heaven and fellow heirs with all the Saints of every generation.
Lord God Almighty, creator of the universe and maker of human kind, we know that we live in a fallen world, because we are fallen people. We have bad thoughts, we say and do things we know harm others and ourselves, we hesitate in doing the right things and often miss our change. We carry sin and guilt and shame until we invite you to make our load light.
So, Lord Jesus, we ask for forgiveness full and free, bought at an enormous price, offered freely in Your grace and mercy. Come into our hearts and should and fill us with your Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us, to comfort and inspire us. May we serve you each day that we have left in this life and equip us for eternity in heaven. We ask this in Jesus’ saving name.