Thursday, April 2, 2015

JESUS: The Sin Removalist

Jesus: The Sin Removalist

“The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’” John 1:29.

Jesus is referred to by various descriptive names in the Bible. In one place the Apostle Paul refers to Jesus “Our Passover.” In another place Jesus refers to Himself as the bread from heaven. He calls Himself the Vine and also the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. He says elsewhere, “I am the door.” We see in the verse of Scripture before us that Jesus is called the Lamb of God. Therefore, it would be good to do what John Baptizer is inviting us to do. There’s Jesus walking towards you. Look at Him as He draws nearer to you.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a load of sin you’ll be wanting rid of. And, since Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, who better than Jesus is there to take away your sins from you?

The general gist of what we’re looking at in the following is this: Keep on handing over your sins to Jesus Christ the Sin Removalist.

The Pick-up
Each of us has a load of sin we need removed. According to the Bible we live in a world full of sin[1] and that each one of us is full of sin.[2] Now, when the Garbos[3] go on strike the garbage piles up in the street! Sometimes the garbage piles so high the Government has to send in the army to remove it. Sin is the pile of rotting Garbage that comes between us and God. And God won’t come near us until the garbage and its stench is removed. Therefore God sent His Son Jesus Christ to remove the sin of the world. God loaded the sins of His people onto the back of His Son. Then God incinerated our sin. The incinerator is Calvary’s cross. God poured out His fiery wrath upon His Son as He hung on a cross with all our sin. Jesus Christ, then, is the Sin Removalist!

Now then, since each one of us contributes to the sin of the world, each of us has a load of sin that needs to be incinerated on Christ’s cross. We know that Christ died for the sins of His people some 2000 years ago. I wasn’t around then and neither were you. However, Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.[4] Therefore we today can look to Him and seek Him to take away our sins for us. Otherwise, at the end of your life you’ll be left with a pile of rotten sin on your back with no one to remove it. And, according to Scripture, the God who hates all sin will pour His fiery wrath upon you. Horrible as it sounds, this means that you will be incinerated forever, which means eternal conscious torment in the fires of hell!

Now, I know that hell is not a popular subject nowadays. And who likes talking about a place about which Jesus says, “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire – where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” Mark 9:47. It’s a picture of the dump outside of the city of Jerusalem. The carcasses and the offal of the sacrificed animals were thrown into the dump and burnt. Those carcasses around the edge of the fire were full of worms and maggots. It’s a horrible thought and who in their right mind would want to spend an eternity there, especially those who have seen the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world! But it’s all to do with sin, isn’t it? – the sin of unbelief which is prevalent today.

Think about it, every time you break even the least of God’s commandments you are throwing another piece of rotten garbage on the street! And, just as you can be fined if caught littering on the street, so God holds each one of us accountable for every one of our sins. However, the penalty is not a slap on the wrist. And what is sin? “Sin is the want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.”[5]

I’m sure you reckon that you are reasonable creature. You have the God given ability to reason whether something’s right or wrong. And of course we apply our reasoning in light of what the Bible says is right and wrong. We measure whether a thing is right or wrong against what God says in His Word.

Now let’s test our ability to reason: Is it right or wrong to murder your next door neighbour? Instead of borrowing sugar, you kill him for no reason, is that a right or wrong thing to do? It’s a wrong thing to do, isn’t it? But what makes it wrong? If you are one of those who been brought up to think we were not created by God to be His image but that we all evolved accidently from slime you’ll have some troubling answering that question. How can it be morally wrong to rearrange a bunch of chemicals, i.e., murder someone – if that’s all we are? Well, the Bible says God designed and made us in His own moral image. So, we’re not a bunch of atoms and gases that accidentally bumped into each other one dark night Therefore it’s wrong to murder your neighbour because God who made us says so!

So, let me state again that sin is ANY failure to measure up to whatever God requires, or any disobedience to any of His commands given as a rule for creatures with reason. Does that sound reasonable to you? We all know about the sins we see each other do outwardly. But what about those sins we commit inwardly? What about those invisible sins, the ones that no one else can see? No one but God that is! There’s a spiritual dimension to sin then.

You’re sinning inwardly by hating someone in your heart! You’re committing murder in your heart. You’re sinning inwardly or spiritually by lusting after another’s wife or husband! You’re committing adultery with him or her in your heart! I can’t see what goes on in your heart, but God can! However, I know that I sometimes pile up garbage in my own heart. How about you? I’ve got one or two old banana skins in my heart. They cause me to slip from time to time. Therefore, I need to watch out for the Sin Removalist and have Him take them away!

What was the first piece of garbage to be produced in the world? It was a piece of rotten fruit, wasn’t it? It wasn’t rotten when it was hanging of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. But it started to rot when Adam sunk his pearly-whites into it! God had told Adam not to eat the fruit of that tree. Did Adam listen? No! So the rotten garbage of sin began to pile up.

As Adam and Eve had children it began to pile up more and more in the streets of the world. It was Adam then, who produced the first load of rotten garbage.[6] And each one of his descendants all the way down to you and me have added to it.[7] The sin of the world, then, is the sin that separates us from God. And the garbage dump is a place full of filth and disease. And so became the world after Adam disobeyed God. However,  God sent His beloved Son into the world to remove the world’s garbage. So, Christ is the Sin Removalist who takes away the stinking load. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

 Truth be known, we can hardly move for the amount of sin around the place! Sin restricts us. It trips us up. We fall over it. We even wallow in it like a pig in mud. Even those good things we try to do are to God like filthy rags![8] As Job says, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!” Job 14:4. A world full of sin cannot produce something untainted by sin, can it? So how are we to get back to a Holy, Righteous, Sinless and Perfect God? Well, the only way back to the presence of God and Paradise is for Him to come and remove our load. i.e., our load of sin.

When I lived in Canada I had a friend who had his own garbage removal business. I gave him a hand for a few days. It was nothing like what we now have here in Brisbane Australia, you know, where the guy sits in his cabin and the big arms pick up you wheelie-bin. No! Back then wheelie bins hadn’t caught on in Canada yet. So what we had to do was run after the garbage truck and throw the garbage bags into the back of it! I did this for three days one hot summer. Yuk! (And the pay was even worse!) But anyway, he sometimes got called out at night to pick up a dead deer or elk or even a moose from lying in the middle of the road. I gave him a hand one night to manhandle a dead white-tailed deer into the back of his wagon. I was thankful that it was the freezing cold winter and not the roasting hot summer. For you know how terrible is the smell of rotten carcass in summer! Well, the sin of the world has the stench of death clinging to it! The trouble is that we’re so used the smell that we hardly even notice it. However, the Son of God came willingly to take away the sin of the world. God loaded the sin of the world onto His Son’s back.

Jesus became the scapegoat for all those who lay their sins upon Him. The Bible illustrates it like this: In Leviticus 16:6 we’re told that once a year, “Aaron the high priest, shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering.” And according to Exodus 12:5 it was permissible to use either a young sheep or goat. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between and sheep and goat anyhow. Anyway, the sheep or goat had to be without a blemish on it. Then lots would be drawn to decide which of the two would get to do what. One of the animals would be sacrificed as a sin offering required by God, while the other would be set free in the wilderness.

Now, both the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat picture what Jesus did as the Lamb of God. Take the scapegoat. Israel would confess her sins before God. Then the high priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat. As he held its horns the sin of the people would symbolically be transferred or imputed onto the back of the goat. The young goat or sheep would be led into the wilderness. It was the lamb that takes away the sin of the people. It was their scapegoat. Of course, it didn’t really take away their sin. The scapegoat just reminded them of their need to have their sins removed. And as for the other young sheep or goat, well, after the sin of the people was symbolically transferred or imputed to it, it was sacrificed.

Now then, it’s not hard to see how this applies to Jesus. Think about the time when Jesus was baptized by John. Mark 1:4-5 says, “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to Him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

So get the picture, the people of God are confessing their sins. And having water applied to them as a the picture of the washing away of the filth and stench of sin. And then we read in John 1:29, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” After Jesus was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit, Mark in his gospel says 1:12, “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.” Therefore Jesus fulfilled the role of the Old Testament scapegoat.

But what about the other young goat or sheep that was to be sacrificed? Well, Jesus fulfilled that role too, didn’t He? The justice of God demands that our sins be paid for, either by you or a substitute. Christ is our scapegoat who takes away our sin. And He is our sacrificial Lamb who pays the debt we owe to God for our sin. So then, we’ve seen that Jesus Christ the Sin Removalist. And each of us needs Him to pick up our sins and take them away. Even as we have our garbage picked up and taken away.

Now we need to consider the place where Jesus went when He took away our sins.

The Delivery
Jesus took away our sins upon the cross, didn’t He? My friend, the one who owned his own garbage truck had to go to the city dump every time his truck was full. He would take the Perimeter Highway which had to be the bumpiest road in Winnipeg! Before they would let him into the dump they would get him to drive unto a platform. They would weigh the contents of his truck and charge him certain dumping fees according to the weight of his load. Jesus had the weight of the world’s sin upon Him. And the price He had to pay to dump our sin was death (as per the wages of sin[9]).

The bumpy road to the cross was slow and painful for Jesus. Behold! The Lamb of God betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane! Behold! The Lamb of God as they took Him away to sacrifice Him. Behold Him as they paraded Him down the street. Behold Him as they spat upon Him as he walked along the road to His death. Behold Him as His legs buckled under the weight of our sin, your sin and my sin. Behold Him as He set His face to take the muck and filth of our sin to deliver it to the city dump.

If you want to see what it’s like to be in hell then look no further than Christ on the cross. Listen to a Man whose soul feels forsaken by God. Hear Him cry out, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me? ... My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.” Psalm 22:1,15.

But see if you can catch His eye before He goes there. See if you can catch His eye as He walks along the road. See if you can get Him to take your sin with Him to the dump too! If you can see Him you won’t be too late to catch Him. He won’t race away. He’ll wait for you. That’s why He came. He came to take away the sin of the world.

Confess your sins and repent of them. Place them on the back of Jesus as He struggles up Calvary’s hill. Only He can bear your sins. He can bear the sin of the whole world! But you have to behold Him in order for Him to take away your sins.

What’s it like when you forget to put out the garbage and you miss the garbage collection? You’re left with a bin full of garbage and you have to try to dump it by yourself, don’t you? I remember when we were out in Springsure (Central Queensland) I missed the garbage collection. Of course it was about 40 degrees Celsius in the shade. So I loaded the maggot infested garbage into the church’s new car and drove along the dusty road to the village dump.

Jesus Christ carried our sin on His back and He walked to the city dump. He made one trip and one trip alone when He went to the cross with our sin. But let’s say a person missed out on Jesus taking away his sin. Let’s say this person was you. Would you be happy to deal with your own sin? What do you think will happen when you get to the city dump? (For that is where God will send you.) What will you do with all your sin when you are weighed on the weigh scales? What will you use for money to pay to dump your sins when all you have with you is garbage? What will you do when you’ve used up all the credit God has given you and now at the end of your life He’s demanding payment?

God demands the penalty of death for sin and there you and I are sitting with a whole life full of it! So it’s a bit useless to say that you don’t have any sin since God is weighing you on the scales. And the trouble is that God demands payment for even the smallest of sins – the payment is death. Look at Jesus on the cross if you don’t believe me – that’s the price of sin! And the sin He had wasn’t even His sin for He was sinless! No, it was the sin of all those who look to Jesus to be delivered from their sins. It’s better to catch the eye of Jesus and have Him take your sins away now, because if you die without them being removed, you’ll spend eternity paying for them. However, always remember that God forgives those who have had their sin removed by the Sin Removalist.

What’s it like then to have your sins forgiven? Well, Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” We know we are in Christ Jesus, and we know our sins have been taken away, when we are beholding Christ. When you keep on looking for Christ and keep on looking to Christ you know you haven’t missed the Sin Removalist. For He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Always remember that Jesus is The Sin Removalist. He is the One who has picked-up the sins of those who keep on keeping their eyes on Him . He is the One who has delivered us from our sins by taking them to Calvary’s cross. So keep on beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And, to keep your conscience clear, as you become aware of them, keep on handing over your sins to Jesus Christ the Sin Removalist.

[1] Romans 8:20-22.
[2] Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22.
[3] Australian term for garbage-collectors.
[4] Hebrews 13:8.
[5] Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 24.
[6] Genesis 3:11.
[7] Romans 5:12f.
[8] Isaiah 64:6.
[9] Romans 6:23.

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