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Freed from the Power of Sin

by Larry Riekenberg

We have many images of the new life of the believer in Scripture where the differences between the believer and the unbeliever stand out in sharp contrast: blind/seeing, darkness/light, old/new, dead/alive, lost/found, slavery/freedom, enmity/friendship, and children of God/children of Satan. All of these illustrate a change that is dramatic, instant, and life changing.

We have a hard time with sin and forgiveness. There have been many and varied formulas invented by innovative individuals that appeal to the unenlightened mind to try and make partial truths work to deal with man’s ever-present sin problem. Even as believers, many are stuck in the “poor miserable sinner” mode, thinking it presumptuous to claim security in Christ. Someone has once said that “as an unbeliever we don’t understand how sinful we are and as a believer we don’t understand how completely we are forgiven.”

Col. 1:13-14 puts it all together for us: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

In the Mosaic Law, God provided a 1,500-year-old object lesson of the innocent dying for the guilty that continued until the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which once and for all dealt with man’s sin problem. This annual event is described in Lev. 16:20-22:

When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

The concept of forgiveness is in focus. The goat that is led out into the wilderness carried the sins of the nation on its head and was sent away. It was called a “scapegoat” or “goat of removal.” This is the picture of forgiveness; it means to be “sent away.”

Paul explains that the object lesson of Leviticus 16 is now a reality in Jesus Christ.

Col. 2.13-14 tells us:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 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.

The language in these two verses does not contain anything vague or nebulous: He forgives “all our transgressions;” He “canceled out the certificate of debt” and “has taken it out of the way.” There is nothing here to lead us to believe that forgiveness is elusive. What more can God say?

In Colossians 2, Paul says that the sins that condemn us have been put on the cross with Christ. In Romans 6 he says that our old self, the person we were before salvation, has been put on the cross with Him. Romans 6:6-7 says:

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

How do we get rid of the penalty of sin? We have to die. How do we break the chains of the power of sin in our life? We have to die.

In Romans 6:11-14 Paul says:

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

It is kind of like re-tooling a factory that once made weapons of mass destruction. Now under new management, these same tools are making a product to cure cancer.

In today’s world, the battle is for our minds. There is a never ending barrage of ideas that confront us for our time and resources. Our mind and body belong to a new Master who gives us the power to do what He commands.