This morning I have some good news and some bad news. And I will start with the bad news. You and I have a problem. You and I have a big problem. In fact, it is the largest, most significant problem we have in our lives.

"What's the problem?" We cannot completely rid our lives of evil. No matter how much we learn and understand from the Bible, no matter how much we grow spiritually, no matter how much we mature in Christ, no matter how strong we become ethically or morally, we cannot completely stop sinning. Evil is always present in our lives.

It is a vicious struggle. We can work on our evil habits, but we still need to work on our greed. We can work on our greed, and we still need to work on our honesty. We work on our honesty, and we still need to work on our words. We work on what we talk about, and we still need to work on our attitudes. We work on our attitudes, and we still need to work on our motives. We work on our motives, and we still need to work on our emotions. Then we learn something from Christ and the teachings of the Bible, and we gain a deeper understanding of good and evil, of right and wrong, of wise and unwise, and we start all over.

Paul surely put his finger on the core truth about evil in our lives when in Romans 7 he declared that the harder he fought evil in his life the more evil he uncovered.

But I also have some good news. And it is wonderful news. This is the good news: God has solved our problem. He solved it perfectly, totally, and completely.

After Paul stated in Romans 7 that the harder he fought evil in his life the more evil he uncovered, he acknowledged God's perfect solution in this statement: There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

This morning I want us to examine God's perfect solution for evil in the lives of the men and women who are in Christ Jesus.

  1. First, I ask you to turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 5.
    1. Let's begin by looking at the flow of Paul's thoughts in this chapter.
      1. Verse 1: This earthly body we live in is just a tent.
        1. When we die, we exchange this tent for a house, a permanent structure which was constructed by God.
        2. While this tent is temporary, lasting for only a few years, the permanent house we receive after death is eternal--unlike this physical body, it lasts without end.
      2. Verses 7-10: So we live our daily lives by faith.
        1. We do not live our daily lives in the fear of death.
        2. We live in the certain knowledge of the judgment when everyone comes before God, but we still live by faith and not by the fear of death.
      3. How can we know the certainty of the judgment and still live by faith and not by fear?
        1. Verse 11: Reason one: Because we are filled with profound respect, the respect that comes from complete awe.
          1. We live in respect and awe of the Lord.
          2. In the knowledge that our lives are completely open to God's eyes, we persuade people.
        2. Verse 14: Reason two: Because our lives are literally controlled by Christ's love for us.
          1. Verse 15: Christ died and was resurrected on behalf of every person or all people.
          2. Verse 17: By being in Christ, each person is re-created into a new person.
          3. Verse 17: By being in Christ, each person's past is destroyed, and the person is given a brand new beginning.
          4. Verse 18: God intentionally makes all this happen because God reconciled all of us who are in Christ to Himself through Christ.
            1. Verse 19: What we must understand is this: God did not send Christ to sum up the total of each person's sins and charge the person for his sins.
            2. God sent Christ to create the means and opportunity to reconcile all people on earth to Himself.
            3. God succeeded in doing what He intended to do: anyone can accept reconciliation to God.
          5. This news about reconciliation is both the ministry and the message God has commissioned Paul and his company to share with everyone.
            1. God wants to be at peace with you.
            2. Accept the peace.
    2. Now please pay close attention to verses 20 and 21.
      1. We are begging you, we are urging you, we are pleading with you as spokesmen for Jesus Christ, accept the reconciliation.
      2. God took Jesus who had never sinned, who had no sin, and God made Jesus to be sin on our behalf.
      3. It is because God made Jesus to be sin for us that we can become the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
    3. To me that is one of the most incredible statements in the Bible, if not the most incredible statement.
      1. God took the pure, holy, sinless Jesus who never committed any evil of any kind, and God made Jesus to be sin.
      2. When did God do that?
        1. When Jesus died on the cross.
        2. In my understanding, it actually happened just before Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46).
        3. God allowed the collective sin of humanity--from the first sin of Adam and Eve to the last sin that will be committed before the end of the world--to be placed on the sinless body of Jesus.
        4. When the sin was placed on Jesus' body, God withdrew His presence from Jesus.
      3. Consider the incredible Savior we have.
        1. Though he never sinned, he experienced what it is like to die separated from the presence of God.
        2. That is the ultimate experience of human weakness and defeat--to die separated from the presence of God.
        3. Jesus endured that experience so that you will not have to.
        4. Because God covered the body of Jesus with our sins as he died, God can take the perfect righteousness of the sinless Jesus and cover us with his righteousness.
          1. When God looked at Jesus on the cross, He saw our sins--Jesus had the appearance of a sinner to God because Jesus was wearing our sins.
          2. When God looks at the man or woman in Christ, God sees Jesus' perfect righteousness because we are wearing the righteousness of Jesus.
    4. So you say to me, "David, I think your imagination is going overboard. That is just too far out. That sounds like speculation to me." Decide for yourself if it is my speculation.
      1. In I Peter 2:18 Peter talks to slaves who had become Christians.
        1. He told them that it was not unjust for them to suffer because they are Christians.
        2. In verses 21 through 24 he told them that Jesus himself was their example in the matter of suffering.
        3. Jesus went through the ordeal of his trials and death without sinning--he suffered silently using no form of retaliation.
        4. He just placed all the injustice that occurred in God's hands knowing that God will judge righteously.
        5. Look at what Peter specifically said about Jesus as he died:
          He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (I Peter 2:24).
        6. The Christians in Galatia had been told by Jewish Christians that their baptism was invalid because they had not obeyed the rituals of the Jewish law before being baptized.
          1. In Galatians 3 Paul said that was completely false; they were as much children of God as were the Jews who had been baptized.
          2. Verse 26: "For you all are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."
          3. Verse 27: "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ."
        7. When we enter Christ, our sins are atoned for because they were placed on the body of Christ, and we are clothed in Jesus' righteousness.

  2. "That is wonderful! But sin continues to be a problem in our lives after baptism as long as we live." Absolutely correct--but God's perfect solution solved that problem also.
    1. John in I John 1:5-10 revealed God's solution to that problem.
      1. I John 1:1-5 reveals that John is writing to Christians.
        1. He wants the readers to share fellowship with him (verse 3).
        2. He wants them all to share fellowship with the Father and Jesus Christ.
        3. He is writing so that his joy can be made complete.
      2. Look carefully at verses 5-10:
        1. Verse 5: God is light and there is no darkness in God.
          1. God is sinless existing in a sinless environment.
          2. God and evil are as totally opposite as pure light and total darkness.
        2. Verse 6: If we claim that we have fellowship with God while we live the life of an unconverted evil person, we are deceiving ourselves and we are not practicing the truth.
        3. Verse 7: If we live our lives in the light that comes from God, two things happen:
          1. We have fellowship with each other.
          2. The blood of Jesus cleanses (present, continuing) us of all sin.
        4. Verse 8: If we want to make the claim that we don't need that cleansing, we are self-deceived and the truth is not in us--because all of us Christians have sin in us.
        5. Verse 9: If we confess our sins (to God), God is faithful and righteous (He will honor His promise) and do two things.
          1. He will forgive us our sins (those we know and confess).
          2. He will cleanse us (continuing) of all unrighteousness (of all the sins we are guilty of but do not know).
        6. Verse 10: If Christians say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar and God's word is not in us.
      3. After I am baptized into Christ, if I will be honest with God and myself, if I will confess my sins as I realize that I do evil, then God will keep me in a continual state of forgiveness, and continual state of cleansing.
      4. If I will acknowledge my sin as I seek to walk in God's light, God through His forgiveness will keep me in a state of purity.
      5. I cannot be perfect, but I can be honest with God and accept responsibility for my mistakes as I realize them.

God's solution is perfect. He placed your sins on the body of Christ. When you are baptized into Christ, not only are your sins forgiven, but you are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. As you continue to learn to live in God's light, if you will accept responsibility for your mistakes and confess them to God, He will forgive you of all the sin that occurs in your life.

That is our incredible God. That is our incredible Savior. That is our incredible salvation.

There are some experiences that you have when you preach and teach that after years and years and years have caused you so much grief. I grieve so much at all the people that believe that God can't forgive them. I grieve for all my brothers and sisters who live their lives convinced that, at best, it's a chance that they'll go to Heaven; probability is they're going to Hell, they think.

I grieve for all of my brothers and sisters who feel like God has not forgiven them. I grieve for my brothers and sisters who feel like God won't listen to their prayers. I grieve for my brothers and sisters who are scared to death to die. Scared to DEATH to die because with all that God has already done they feel like they're dying alone. And they're afraid, oh they're afraid to meet God because they don't feel forgiven.

The number one priority my God had when He gave His Son on the cross of Calvary was forgiveness. If we don't feel forgiveness, we don't understand why Jesus died for us. God said, "You can never be perfect and you can never solve the problem on your own. But I, God, have you covered in Jesus Christ."

I grieve for all of those who aren't Christians who feel like there's no need then for them to even consider being a Christian because, their life had been so bad, God would laugh if they decided to be baptized. And I wonder how can we read the gospels; how can we read the Book of Acts and ever believe that?

And I grieve and I weep because there is no joy in our salvation. I grieve because there's no happiness in those who have been redeemed. They are so afraid of the sins that have been forgiven they never know how to rejoice in their forgiveness. Change that in your life. Change it -- look, read, study these passages; search them; see that's what it says!

And it doesn't relieve you of any responsibility. You've got the greatest responsibility in life -- of walking in the light, being honest about your life, being honest with God, being honest to yourself, repenting. Oh, we've got big responsibility. Accept the responsibility.

Believe the promise.

If we can pray for you as a Christian man or woman and encourage you and help you, we want to do it. If we can help you be clothed in Jesus Christ and take those sins--by the power of God and the blood of Jesus--and put them on the cross through an act of God, we want to do it. If we can help you in any way draw close to God and be freed from the fear of death, then we want to do it.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 27 April 1997

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