By Femi Aribisala
Thanks to Jesus, salvation is no longer based on obeying laws we could not obey. It is now based on believing what we can believe.
God created the first man, Adam, in his image and likeness. He then put him in his garden of Eden to tend and take care of the garden. He gave Adam a seemingly simple injunction: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).
However, Adam could not obey this sanction. The devil tempted him and his wife Eve, assuring them that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit. He promised them that, instead, their eyes would be opened and they would become as wise as God himself.
Rather than obey God, Adam and Eve obeyed the devil. They ate the forbidden fruit and died instantaneously. They died spiritually, even while still remaining alive in the flesh.
Slaves of sin
As a result of their sin of disobedience, the devil became the ruler of this world. (John 12:31). Man became a slave of sin and the devil, instead of a servant of God and of righteousness. Adam and Eve failed to realise that: “You become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” (Romans 6:16).
Thereafter, Adam and his progeny lost the distinction of being sons of God. We became instead, sons of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6); and by implication, sons of the devil. (John 8:44). When Adam had a son, he could not be, as Adam had been, a son of God created in the image and likeness of God. Instead, he was a son of Adam, born in Adam’s “own likeness, in his own image.” (Genesis 5:3).
Thus, through Adam, sin and death entered the world, bringing about a fundamental disconnect between God and man. Men continued to seek God but in ignorance and darkness, worshiping man-made idols and the host of heaven in the foolish belief that, by so-doing, they were worshiping God.
Therefore, God chose one nation, Israel, through whom he delivered to mankind the oracles of God. Through his servant Moses, God gave Israel some 613 laws (referred to as the Law of Moses) stipulating what he required of men and how we were to worship him.
Law of futility
However, God knew from the get-go that no man could keep those laws. They were not only exacting, if you failed to meet one of them, it was assumed that you had failed to meet all of them: “The person who keeps every law of God but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is.” (James 2:10).
So what was the point of God giving us laws he knows we cannot keep?
God gave the law to show us that his standards are too high for us. He gave the law to make us understand that: “(his) thoughts are not (our) thoughts, nor are (our) ways his ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are (God’s) ways higher than our ways, and (his) thoughts than (our) thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Moreover, the law was our perfect introduction us to the second man, Jesus; the only one who could keep God’s laws. “In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.” (Galatians 3:24-25).
Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the law that we cannot fulfil. Not even once did he transgress any of God’s commandments. He “faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15).
Accordingly, John says: “I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.
So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” (Revelation 5:1-5).
Jesus our saviour
God says: “The soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4). “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12). But God, in his mercy, then laid all our sins upon sinless Jesus: “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus died for our sins and as our substitute. So doing, God cancelled the death that Jesus died on our behalf by raising Jesus back to life after three days. As he was being raised back to life, so were we who were hitherto dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:4-6). In this manner, God imputed our sins to Jesus and imputed Jesus’ righteousness to us.
Jesus himself became our life. (Colossians 3:4). Because he lives, those of us who believe in him will live and receive God’s gracious gift of eternal life. Jesus then became our representative. He received the penalty we deserve. Nevertheless, he asked God to forgive us for our sins. He prevailed over all the wiles of the devil and recovered everything we had lost in Adam.
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19).
Thanks to Jesus
Thanks to Jesus, salvation is no longer based on obeying laws we could not obey. It is now based on believing what we can believe. “For by grace (we) have been saved through faith, and that not of (ourselves); it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and believe that God raised him from the dead for our justification, we will be saved from our sins. The only sin that now remains is the sin of not believing in Jesus. (John 16:8-9).
Those who believe in Jesus receive his Holy Spirit. They now walk in the light of his word. If and when they sin, they are quick to confess their sins, confident that God is faithful and just to forgive them their sins and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).