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Reflecting on Truth #25

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New City Catechism Question 25

Q: Does Christ’s death mean all our sins can be forgiven?

A: Yes, because Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin, God graciously imputes Christ’s righteousness to us as if it were our own and will remember our sins no more.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Why does this matter?

He who knew no sin became sin for us. This is an incredible truth! Over time, we might become accustomed to this truth, become so used to hearing this truth that it no longer causes us to marvel in awe and wonder. Think about it once again: Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the one who knew no sin, he became sin for us. This is the Great Substitution, the Great Exchange that we reflected upon last week. Jesus took upon himself the punishment that we deserved, he endured the infinite wrath of God upon himself, he took our sin upon himself on the cross. Our sin was placed upon Christ, and in exchange we receive forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God.

How does this make any sense?! Who in their right mind would exchange forgiveness and righteousness for sin and wrath? We know of some who are willing to give their lives for their friends and loved ones, but who would give their life for hateful enemies? You and I both know the answer, and that is Jesus Christ. Even when we were still sinners who were actively rebelling against our Creator, Jesus laid down his life for sinners like us. The death of Christ on the cross paid in full the penalty for our sin. The wages of sin is death, and someone has to pay the price in full. Thank God that Jesus paid that price on our behalf because he loves us!

You would think that full payment is good enough, but the Scriptures teach us that because Jesus died on the cross for us, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us as if it were our own. When God looks at us, he no longer remembers our sins, he no longer sees our sin. Instead, God sees righteousness, not our own righteousness that we manifested of ourselves, but the righteousness of Christ that we are clothed in. We are righteous because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us.

What does this mean for us?

The work of Christ on the cross is the basis of our assurance of salvation. It is the reason we are certain that our sins have been forgiven. When the devil, the great accuser, comes and causes us to imagine that we are too vile, too evil, too far off to be forgiven, the death of Christ on the cross reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Because of what Christ has accomplished, we can live in true freedom for God. We no longer have to live according to the desires of the flesh in which we once walked. We no longer have to be anxious about our eternal destiny. We no longer have to be afraid that God will judge us for the sins that we have committed when we were still enemies of God. We can now live as sons and daughters of God, walking according to the Spirit, and living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Praise God that our disobedience is completely covered by the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ - all of our sins are dealt with forever.