See the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!…Jesus tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young. (John 1:29; Isaiah 40:11)
This draws on class notes. You may read the previous post, See The Lamb of God (Part 1), but each post also stands on its own.
In Milan, Italy, there’s a lamb carved in stone, high up, near the peak of a church. When the building was being constructed, centuries back, a workman fell from the scaffold. He fell onto a flock of sheep nearby. One lamb was crushed, but the man was spared to live! So that workman carved a lamb in stone and mounted it on the building, giving thanks for the Lord rescuing him. He was also pointing viewers to Jesus, God’s Lamb who takes away all that’s wrong with us, partly in this life and perfectly when He returns for us.
A hymn by William Cowper (1731-1800) closes like this:
Dear dying Lamb, Your precious blood shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed ones of God be saved, to sin no more.
Are There Any Respectable Sins?
In 2007, Navigator author Jerry Bridges published the book, Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. He wanted to expose the subtle and “acceptable” sins that Christians tolerate in ourselves, including pride and anger. Bridges says evangelicals get so preoccupied with the obvious sins of our culture (abortion and homosexuality) that we conveniently forget to deal with our own wrongs. His chapters cover: Ungodliness; Anxiety and Frustration; Discontentment; Unthankfulness; Pride; Selfishness; Lack of Self-Control; Impatience and Irritability; Anger; Judgmentalism; Envy, Jealousy, and Related Sins; Sins of the Tongue; and Worldliness. Isn’t it convenient to look at the sins of others and ignore our own? Let’s beware that we don’t become accidental Pharisees!
Pastor Henry Clay Fish (1820-1877) said: “One of Satan’s strategies is to call the church’s attention away from her own condition to focus on the condition of the world outside and around us.” In Revelation Chapters 2-3, Christ points out the sin in His churches and calls us to repent. This well-known Scripture does the same:
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The Lord calls Jesus’ followers to return to Him and then He will return to us.1 Then He will bless us and bring all the ends of the earth to love, fear, and honor Him.2
Let’s Beware Hypocrisy
Jesus says: Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.3
Even if we are not criminals locked up in prison, we all sin in many ways the Bible describes. Scripture says: “Everyone who sins breaks God’s law; in fact, sin is lawlessness….For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it….If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”4 Thank God, He has provided Jesus the Lamb to take away our sin!
Charlotte Elliott’s hymn says:
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To You whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!5
Lifetime Repentance is Required
In 1517, Martin Luther nailed up his Ninety-Five Theses in Wittenberg, Germany. They begin: “When our Lord Jesus said ‘repent,’ He meant that the whole of the Christian life should be repentance.” Sometimes people say: “I repented 10, 20, 30 years ago. It’s done and dusted.” The Scriptures teach us that it’s not done and dusted. Repentance and believing must go on our whole life. That’s healthy Christianity. God the Holy Spirit transforms us, makes us new and different, and keeps us turning away from our sin and running back to King Jesus to love, serve, trust, and obey Him.6
Jesus Washes Sin Away
1 John 1:7-9 says “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That’s wonderful news, beloved!
Pastor Brian Kuyper has three school-age children. When they play outside and get sweaty, Brian often says, “Jump in the shower and do a quick rinse-off.” Other times when they are very dirty, they need a deep-cleaning shower or a soak in the tub. Brian says that in some ways, the old covenant laws of ceremonial cleansing provided just a quick rinse, not deep-down cleaning. The people just got dirty again. The Old Testament was always pointing ahead to Jesus the Messiah, whose death and resurrection purified His followers once for all.
Jesus’ work for us and in us washes us thoroughly, providing such a deep-down cleaning that we receive new life. Hebrews 9:14 explains: The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!7 We are saved from sin to serve the true and living God, showing ourselves to be His adopted children. Christians are not saved by pleasing the Lord, but saved for pleasing Him.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, cleanse us, wash us, and make us whiter than snow. Hide your face from our sins and blot out all our iniquity. Create in us a pure hearts, O God, and renew steadfast spirits within us so that we may serve You faithfully by serving others all our lives. Amen.8
To be continued.
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Isaiah 44:22; Jer 3:12, 4:1, 24:7; Joel 2:12; Zec 1:3; Mal 3:7. 2 Psalm 67:7. 3 Matt 7:1-5. 4 1 John 3:4; James 2:10, 4:17. 5 “Just As I Am.” 6 This paragraph was adapted from Sinclair Ferguson, Ligonier.org. 7 Today Magazine (Christian Reformed Church), June 2020. 8 Prayer builds on Psalm 51:7-9. Note: Older translations say: “Behold the Lamb.” Newer translations say look at Him or see Him. The meaning is the same.