The Power of God through the Blood of the Cross
I was once asked, “Why do I need to be covered by blood? Blood is disgusting! Why a blood covering for sin? Why not something else, like water? This is actually a good question. Blood covering can be a little hard to explain especially when most of the world today does not understand or grasp the importance and significance of human life. It is important that we understand the reason for and the great love behind the application of the Blood of Jesus on a life. For many years, I really didn’t understand myself the width, depth, height and length of this love mystery in its fullest sense and in no way can we cover it in just one study. Let’s briefly review some of our studies from the past weeks, this will help us to establish an answer to the question above. We know that Satan was a “covering cherub” before he sinned and he fully understood that anything sinful and un-covered could not be in the presence of a holy God, it carried a consequence of death. He will do anything and everything to try and keep mankind un-covered. We also learned that before the fall, Adam and Eve were clothed by God. This was God’s pure and sinless “glory covering” that would have given them life eternal, yet in their sin, they chose to disrobe. It is no coincidence that they immediately realized they were un-covered (naked) and saw their need to be covered quickly by something, anything. They grabbed what they could, fig leaves! They immediately knew they had exposed themselves to something dangerous and could no longer be in God’s presence. In Genesis 3 the Bible says, “they hid from the Lord God in the trees of the Garden." It was not simply their nudity exposed that made cover necessary, it was their nudity coupled with the knowledge of evil that left them exposed and in grave danger. Once sin and evil had been set loose in the heart and mind of Adam and Eve, they were in big trouble. From that moment man’s physical blood became tainted and our human bodies are now subject to corruption, decay and ultimately death. We must remember that we were created from dust and when God breathed His Spirit into that dust, we became a living, breathing, thinking, blood filled created life, made in the image of God Himself. We were created to live forever. Adam and Eve lived with the lifeblood and Spirit of God in them until the lifeblood and Spirit of God left them through their choice to sin. That was their death sentence! The only answer could be that of divine love and intervention. God had to immediately shed the blood of an animal to make a covering for them. This shedding of blood that God provided had an implication of death and an implication of sacrifice. But why? Why did there have to be the death of a living thing and why did God have to use blood to cover sin? In God’s great wisdom and His purest love He knew exactly what needed to be done for fallen man.
In Leviticus 17:11, God says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood... By God’s own hand, He intervened and shed the blood of an animal and put into motion a temporary plan of redemption for disobedient man. Through Moses, God established what was called, “The Day of Atonement." Please read Leviticus 16. The Hebrew word for “Atonement” is: Kippur and it means: to cover, to ransom, to wipe away. The New American Standard Concordance says that “Kippur” is derived from the Hebrew word meaning: the price of a life. (See note #1) This animal “atonement” of blood was only a temporary covering for man’s sin and the shedding of the animal blood had to be done for each individual every year. It was only a temporary fix that needed a permanent solution. God knew that something perfect and sinless would have to eventually die so that mankind could be redeemed and exposed to His glory once again. God instructed Moses to temporarily use the blood of bulls and goats just as He had done for Adam and Eve. God gave His people this system so they would also understand that sin is costly and must be atoned for. When they would bring their offering to the priest they were to grasp the fact that there was a high price that needed to be paid for their sin. A life for a life! They were also to learn that one cannot lightly and casually enter the presence of a Holy God. Not only does the sacrificial system convey the strong message that sin must be paid for, but it also expresses the truth that, in God’s justice and perfect love, only blood can pay the price for sin. No other substance has life in it. The whole system was set up so that they would understand the sacrifice that Jesus, His beloved Son, would eventually have to make on that Cross for their sin and ours. God Himself was laying the foundation for the life, death and resurrection of the Son that He loved. He wanted nothing more than to redeem the man that He loved through the Son that He loved. Through God’s instruction and sacrificial system, the children of Israel knew that they were waiting for their Messiah; they were looking forward. We know who He is, looking back! It’s all about the Cross.
When the Bible says, “for the life of the flesh is in the blood," it is something that all of humanity can understand and it is something that all of humanity has in common. We all have life giving blood running through our veins and when blood is shed we all know it means death. In Genesis 9:6, God explained to Noah and his family that every human life and the blood that flows through their veins is priceless because we are made in the image of God. In Leviticus 17: 11 Moses goes on tell the children of Israel that, “I have given it to you (the blood) upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Man cannot be redeemed without the shedding of blood, it’s the only answer to the problem of sin! In God’s actions, there is no doubt that the life He created in His image, is very important to Him. So God’s motives for redemption had to be nothing less than pure love for us.
Unfortunately, our world has many different views of the value of a life created in the image of God. Their view ultimately affects their perception of the Cross. If someone does not have a Biblical understanding or respect for the value of human life then they will ultimately have a hard time understanding our gospel. Can they really ever understand the message of redemption and comprehend the price that was paid for them on the Cross? We need to understand that Satan is the one who is undermining the gospel of the Cross through the way our world views the importance of a life created in the image of God. That is why all we do and say must be led by the Spirit of God Himself. We are dealing with a strong delusion that Satan has created in the mind of man and only God can reveal the truth. The truth is, our gospel is a bloodstained gospel.
Another problem we face is how the world views the shedding of blood. Blood seems to have a strong effect on human beings, it either repulses them or appeals to them and Satan uses both against our gospel. Throughout the centuries, Satan has tried to devalue human life, through slavery, prostitution, etc. It’s even worse today in that human life is viewed as cheap, worthless and a way to make lots of money. The shedding of human blood is a daily occurrence in our society and most have become complacent to it. Most don’t give a second thought about what they hear on the news if it doesn’t affect them. I have been guilty! There are terrible things happening in America today. The number of abortions each year in the United States alone are over 1.21 Million and climbing. The murder rate alone in the United States in 2010 was 14,748,00. Hollywood and the media have cashed in and understand the drawing power of death, bloodshed and gore and are making billions of dollars every year. Our teens are flocking to the latest vampire and zombie movies and seem to be morbidly curious and fascinated by blood and death. These are just a few examples. Please be assured, Satan knows exactly what he is doing. Just as he has deceived the world about the importance of being covered correctly before a Holy God, he continues to deceive the world to the sacredness of human life and the shedding of innocent blood. He has caused a great delusion in the minds of people and is misusing the concept of life, death, blood and gore for his perverse, evil purposes. Just as Satan did with Adam and Eve through the introduction of sin which led to death, sadly, from the time of Cain even until today, human beings have continued to shed one another’s blood, destroying those who were made in the image of God. When Cain took the life of Abel and shed his blood, it was so terrible an act that God stated, “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10. Can you imagine what God’s heart is saying today about the bloodshed in America alone?
We do have our work cut out for us in that our gospel gate seems to be narrowing as our world is progressing. But we are not alone in that we have God’s promise of power and His Spirit to get His message out. We have been entrusted with the greatest truth the world has ever known. The fulfillment of the sacrificial system has come through Jesus and our sins can be covered and forgiven for good. No other Savior has claimed resurrection and redemption through the shedding of their blood as Jesus has.
We can be permanently and radically changed by the Blood of Jesus and death no longer has to be an option for us. In reality, the answer and concept is really simple. We have been exposed to and deceived by evil and sin. If we choose not to be covered and protected by what God has offered we will die from the exposure and deception of it. There is only one thing that can bring us back to life! There is only one thing that can fix the death of sin. In Romans 5:8-9 it says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. If sin leads to death and life is only found in the blood, then the only way to get God’s life back into us, is through the sinless Blood of Jesus. Our lives are so valuable to the Father that He willingly shed the precious Blood of His Son, and Jesus His Son willingly laid His life down for us. There is life eternal flowing through the sinless Blood of Christ and Him alone! No other element can cover sin. It is a life for a life! That is our answer to the need for a blood covering!
Through the Word
1. Where is life found and who gives it? Leviticus 17:11, 14; Isaiah 42:5; Acts 17:25
2. Is life precious to God? How does He feel toward us? Psalm 139:1-18; Malachi 3:17
3. What is God’s penalty for sin? Ezekiel 18:4, 20
4. What cannot happen without the shedding of blood? Hebrews 9:22
5. What can the blood of bulls and goats never do? Hebrews 10:1, 3-4, 11
6. What price did God pay to buy us back and to forgive our multiple sins? John 3:16-17; John 4:10; Romans 8:32;
1 Peter 1:18-19
7. Christ’s blood and life had a characteristic’s that made it different from any human. What were some of those characteristics? 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5
8. What did Christ purchase with His blood? Psalm 74:2; Isaiah 44:21-22; Matthew 20:28; Acts 20:28; 1Corinthians 6:19-20
9. We are told that Jesus was the propitiation for our sins. From the following scriptures what do you think propitiation means? Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:10 (See note #2)
10. What did Jesus do for us that relates to our sins? Isaiah 53:4-11; 1 Peter 2:24
11. There are two things that we receive from Christ’s blood. What are those two things? Colossians 1:14
12. According to Jesus’ own words what was the purpose of Him shedding His own blood? Matthew 26:28
13. What do the following scriptures say that Jesus did for us and how did He do it? John 10:11, 17-18; Revelation 1:5
14. What is our responsibility when we understand this mystery and accept the gift of God? Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:21
Note #1: See NASC #H3725 and #H3724a.
Note #2: The Greek in these portions of scripture speak of a sacrifice that satisfies the righteous wrath of God. Without this appeasement (propitiation) all people are justly destined for death. The sins of God’s people, punished symbolically in the animal sacrifices of the OT period, would be totally punished in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.
Holman Bible Dictionary
Terms used by Christian theologians in attempts to define and explain the meaning of Christ's death on the cross as it relates to God and to believers. Expiation emphasizes the removal of guilt through a payment of the penalty, while propitiation emphasizes the appeasement or averting of God's wrath and justice. Both words are related to reconciliation, since it is through Christ's death on the cross for our sins that we are reconciled to a God of holy love (Romans 5:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:19-23).
To understand the need for propitiation and for expiation, we have to remind ourselves that the God of the Bible is both holy and loving. His holiness means that sin cannot be condoned. His love signifies that the sinner can be accepted if the claims of divine holiness are recognized. The atoning sacrifice of Christ both satisfies the demands of His holy law and demonstrates His boundless love, the love that goes beyond the law. God was not waiting to be appeased (as in pagan, Greek conception). Rather, God condescended to meet us on our level to remedy the situation. He provided the sacrificial offering that expiates human sin and makes reconciliation possible. Both Old and the New Testaments proclaim that only God's grace opens the door to salvation. All ritual requirements for sacrifice in the Old Testament are replaced by the sacrifice of the cross, which wipes away the record of our debts to God (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 10:14-18). The only sacrifices now required of the Christian are those of praise and thanksgiving, which take the form of worship in spirit and in truth and the obedience of discipleship (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5). God calls us to demonstrate our gratefulness for His self-sacrifice by leading lives of holiness, lives that give the world a sign and witness of God's great love for us shown in Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, the doctrine of the atonement includes both the dimensions of propitiation—averting the wrath of God—and expiation—taking away or covering over human guilt. By the expiation of human guilt, the wrath of God is turned away, the holiness of God is satisfied. Yet it is God who in the person of His Son performs the sacrifice of expiation. It is God who in the person of His Son swallows up evil within Himself through vicarious identification with the sin of His people. A sacrifice was necessary to satisfy the demands of His law, but God Himself provided the Sacrifice out of His incomparable love. What human ritual offerings could not do, God has done once for all by giving up His Son for the sins of the whole human race.