Why Christ Had To Do The Job
(If God is the executor of judgment, why can’t He also pardon everyone?)
People wonderand with good reasonwhy Jesus Christ had to die for our sins. After all, since God made the laws, wouldn’t it have been easier for God to arrange a “pardon” for everyone without sacrificing His Son? The Bible provides the answer, but understanding the answer requires understanding ourselves first.
Why We Want Laws
Everyone wants some personal rights. To have rights, you need laws. The alternativehaving no lawsresults in anarchy, where everyone is free to do anything they wish to anyone. Under that system, nobody has any rights. (Remember, you do not have the right to tell anyone “no” if they can do anything they want with you or your possessions.) That said, everyone will agree that we want laws for the protection of our lives and property.
Enforcing Laws and Setting Penalties
Those who establish the laws also set the penalties and arrange their enforcement. For example, if a pet violates a household rule that it did not make but the owners did (getting on the dinner table perhaps), the owners will carry out the penalty regardless of what the pet thinks. Our society works in a similar way. If someone murders a person, those who enforce the laws put the violator in jail to await trial (and possible execution), regardless of the opinion of the murderer.
Sometimes the pet does not get punished because the owners did not want to take the time to enforce the rule. Sometimes a murderer is not caught, or is not punished when caught. None of these is an example of a pardon, they are examples of a “shortcoming in law enforcement.” We do not expect an automatic pardon in any case.
What “Sin” Is
We refer to breaking God’s laws as “sin.” The Bible refers to several types of sin, but most of them fall into one of two types, represented by the Greek words hamartia (used in Matthew 1:21, 3:6, 9:2 and many other verses) and parabasis (used in Romans 2:23, 4:15, 5:14 and other verses). Hamartia implies missing the markand is the word most commonly translated “sin.” Parabasis is usually translated as “transgressing” or “breaking” a law or command. Therefore, sin can be missing the mark (like the pet examplehamartia), or doing what we know is wrong (like the murderer exampleparabasis). Under both types of sin, the penalty should be carried out. If it is not, the law has no value and offers no protection. Remember, most of the civil laws such as “do not murder” came from the Bible originally (in Christian nations).
That brings us to God’s character. God does not change. That means if He says something, it has to happen. (This is good. We would not want to go to heaven and have Him say, “well, I’ve been thinking about Christianity and changed my mind.”)
You may not have learned this, but this also means that God does have some limits. For example, He can not sin and He can not go back on his word. Therefore, once God establishes a law, He can not violate His own law and forgive our sins without proper payment.
The Penalty for Sin
It does not take too much reading in the Bible to learn that the penalty for sin is death. In other words, the payment of the penalty for sinning (also called atonement) is made by shedding blood. We may not like it, but God set the rules and He is not deviating from them. (Remember, this is good.) Here are some examples:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.
Why Christ Had To Pay the Penalty for our Sins
Once we sin (and it happens to all of us sooner or later) we have two choices:
For example, if you got a traffic ticket, you could pay for the ticket, or you could ask someone else to pay for it. However, since the payment for sinning is death, it is a little tougher to find someone who is willing to pay your penalty!
These two choices are real. We can choose to pay for our own sinsand be cast into hell. This is not a choice we would expect most people to make on purpose. Still, we realize that some people do not take heaven or hell seriously. Unfortunately, they will realize the error of their decision one minute after they die.
The other alternative is to find someone else to pay for our sins. One thought that comes to mind is sacrificing a criminal or someone who “deserves to die.” That way you get rid of someone who is dangerous to society and pay for our sins, solving two problems at once. The Bible tells us why this will not work in Malachi chapter 1 (among other places).
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the LORD.
14 “But cursed be the deceiver
Who has in his flock a male,
And takes a vow,
But sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished
For I am a great King,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“And My name is to be feared among the nations.”
So now we see that only an unblemished (perfect or sinless) sacrifice is acceptable. Unfortunately, no one is perfect. From the beginning of time until the time of Christ, no one came close. In fact, God had to literally become the father of the Savior, since God knew that no person born on this Earth could remain sinless without that divinity.
Since the law required that someone unblemished had to pay the penalty for sin, God offered His Son, Jesus, the only unblemished person in history. This payment for our sins is quite a gift (but what you might expect from a loving God). All we have to do is accept this free gift; something that makes senseespecially since God has given us evidence proving that all of this is true. Still, acceptance is a free-will decision and nobody is forced to accept it. We hope you willotherwise, you will have to pay the penalty yourself.
Page Copyright © 1998 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All information contained in Clarifying Christianity is a resource for questions dealing with Christian issues. It is not to be taken as Christian counseling. Seek a qualified Christian counselor for help with all such issues. If you choose to work with a Christian counselor, it is your responsibility to ask pertinent questions before you begin, to assure yourself of their qualities and abilities.1736