Salvation occurs when we repent of our sins and place our trust in Christ. But what does this mean? How can you be sure that you are trusting Jesus? What does that look like?
John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Enmity Against God
We are all sinful. When we are at our very best, we are still marred and tainted by sin’s corruption. Our best attempts at salvation would fall utterly short. There is nothing we can do to be “good enough” to earn or merit our salvation.
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” Isaiah 64:6
God is completely Holy – so Holy that the angels around His throne cover their faces with their wings. Even in heaven, the eternal beings cannot gaze upon His face because He is so completely OTHERLY. Holy means set apart – completely separated from because of its high value and purity. He is eternal, perfect, and beautiful. He is just. He is the essence of Love. He is merciful. And He is Just in His perfect judgment. He is so completely OTHER and so Pure that He is worthy of continual praise and glory. He is righteous with every thought.
In Genesis, we see that God walked with Adam in the garden in the cool of the evening. They had intimate fellowship together. Just walking and talking. How amazing is that? It was one single sin that forever would mar mankind. One sin that caused that fellowship to be broken. One sin that forced Adam and Eve from the garden. One sin that sentenced all of man to Death. It’s because even one sin is a direct attack on God Himself. All sin is saying “No, you’re not God, I am. I am going to do it my way, regardless of what You have commanded. I will make myself god so that I may obey myself.” All sin is, therefore, treason against God. The entire Old Testament shows us that perfection is what is demanded of us due to God’s righteousness – and we can not hope to reach that standard because we are flawed from the very first sin of Adam. God created us – He gets to set the rules for our function and our existence. He set the standard of holiness because He is holy. God alone is the standard of righteousness and perfection. God wants us Holy because He is holy – and we are to be a reflection of Him.
“Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” Romans 8:7
Some translations render the word hostile to enmity. Enmity is a word that paints a pretty descriptive picture. It likens us to an army, that sets itself up to an offensive position. One that is geared and ready for an attack. Not a defensive position – but a blatantly, openly offensive position. Sword raised and readied.
Who are we to challenge God? Who are we, the mere lump of clay, to scream in defiance at the Potter? Why do we not have our hearts utterly broken over our continual sin? – and we do sin, continually. Every moment we fail to love God with all of our being. Every moment we fail to give God the worship and adoration and glory that He deserves. But we could care less. This is because we have to low of a view of God and too high of a view of self.
What happens when we sin against our fellow man? If you lie to a child – nothing happens. If you lie to your spouse, you’ll have a very difficult relationship. If you steal something that belongs to a neighbor, you’ll probably get arrested and have to pay a hefty fine, maybe even jail time. If you commit a sin against a government official, well that’s probably a lot of jail time. At one time if you lied to the government that could be treason, and you were hanged for it. The punitive actions for our sins against our fellow man is determined by to whom the sin was committed against. So, when we sin against the Holy and Eternal God, Creator of the Universe – it is deserving of only one thing: Eternity separated from the presence of God. An Eternity in torment. An Eternity of continual death. Sin against an Eternal Being requires eternal punishment.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:2
Or… something of equal value to the weight of the crime could be paid. But as we saw in Isaiah, our very attempt is nothing but “filthy garments” of which the literal translation is a soiled cloth – soiled from a woman’s menstrual cycle. THAT is our BEST. If that is our best – what is our worst?
Salvation in Christ Alone
It requires payment by an equally Holy, Pure, Perfect, and Eternal being. Jesus alone is sufficient to make a one-time payment for our sin debt. Because He is God. He was completely pure and sinless. He alone could pay the high price that our sin against the Creator was owed.
“And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4
Salvation is being “saved” from the just, and righteous judgment of God. It is a legal action. Jesus even equated the forgiveness of sins with debt in Matthew. And John shows us that all sin is breaking God’s law. Christ freely gave Himself to be a sacrifice on our behalf – to bear the wrath of Almighty God. Christ took our punishment on His self. He paid our debt. This sacrifice that was provided for us is the good news of the Gospel.
“And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
“Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14
“For in while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10
Repentance and Faith
All that is left is to cling to Him in faith: to hold on to Him as if all our life and eternity depended on it. The Bible describes this as Repentance and Faith.
“From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17
“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15
Repentance and Faith are two parts to the same coin. When we repent, we are agreeing with God about what it is: despicable sin. But repentance is more than that. It is a new mindset. Forsaking the old ways. Turning away from the sin and going the opposite direction. Faith is holding onto Jesus. Trusting Him to hold on to our souls.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Romans 3:28
Faith itself is a gift from God. It is supernatural to have this kind of faith. It isn’t something we muster up ourselves. We can’t even have the faith to trust in Him for our salvation unless it was given to us. All of salvation is by God and for God. Everyone who was given this gift of faith come to salvation. This is how God alone gets all the glory for our salvation. Our faith then bolsters our ability to serve Him in obedience. Our obedience, therefore, proves our faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Christ: Our Everything
Everything that has any value whatsoever is completely summed up in who Christ is. All of the questions found in our innermost being can be answered in Him. The meaning of life is only found in Jesus. All of our understanding of the afterlife is found in Him and Him alone. All joy, peace, and contentment are found in Christ. All the forgiveness of sins, all the reconciliation to God, all the faith to trust Him is only found in Christ.
“In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Colossians 2:3
“For by one offering, He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14