One of the marks that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions is that, for followers of Christ, their sin is dealt with completely by Christ on the cross. This sets Christianity apart from other religions, because other religions require their followers to perform works in order to balance out, or surpass, their own sinfulness with good works. The followers of other religions, including Roman Catholicism, are doing their best to “be good” in adhering to their religious precepts, but in the end, all they can truly do is “hope for the best” when it comes to judgment day.
This is not so for the true Christian, because the judgment day for the Christian has already taken place…on the cross. For the Christian, by the time he/she comes to the point of trusting in Christ for salvation, their sin has already been dealt with on the cross, even sins not yet committed.
In other religions, the followers are hoping to perform well enough to cancel out their debt of sin, or make up for it in some manner. However, the hope other religions offer for their followers is an empty hope. This is because their hope is based upon their own performance in keeping their man-made rules of righteousness. Yet, the Bible, tells us that our righteousness, whether it comes from keeping man-made rules, or God-given rules, is not acceptable.
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6)
This is one of the reasons Christianity is superior to all other religions. In the gospel, in which Jesus Christ pays the debt of the believer’s sin, and secures His righteousness for His believers, the requirements of righteousness have been obtained. These benefits are then imputed to the sinner when he/she believes in Christ for salvation. In other words, Christ is the One who satisfies God’s wrath, pays for the sinner’s sin, and takes away the believer’s condemnation. Below, we will look at three areas that show us that the Christian’s sin is fully, and completely, dealt with.
Satisfying God’s Wrath
Again, the point of this article is to show that Christianity is far superior to all other religions because Christianity is the only one that deals with sin in a satisfactory way. In other words, other religions leave it up to their adherents to deal with their own sin. However, in doing so, they have missed a very important point when it comes to God: His wrath sits and rests upon every non-believer, putting non believers in a real bind. They are offering up unacceptable works to God, thereby increasing His wrath upon them because they are ignoring His provision for salvation in Christ. Therefore, they need someone to deal with the wrath that God has toward them.
First, Christ deals with the wrath of God towards unbelievers.
This is one of the monumental statements of the Christian faith that truly help us understand the relationship between the non-believer and God. God’s wrath (settled indignation) rests upon all mankind until the effects of salvation are applied to a person. Remember that God hates sinners and our wickedness (Psalm 5:5). The love that so many proclaim for the sinner, is falsely understood. It is not a love that accepts the sinner as they are, but seeks to slay them in the Spirit, so that we die to our sin, and live unto righteousness. He does love His children, those who become believers in Christ, in a magnificent way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). But this is not the sappy love that is put forth by so many peddlers of the gospel. It is a love that is rooted in the shed blood of Christ. Without this atonement, or propitiation, the wrath of God still rests upon us.
We see this truth borne out in several verses. Paul, in discussing what God has done for the believer, gives us a glimpse of the relationship we had before we were His children.
…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed… (Romans 3:24-25).
Paul shows us that wrath that was on us when we were non-believers, in that we needed a propitiation on our behalf. God set forth Christ as a propitiation by His blood. Realize that God does not sweep sin under the rug. Because God is just, He must deal with our sin in one of two ways: the first, is letting us remain in sin so that we bear the penalty of His wrath for eternity, or, He deals with our sin through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is the propitiation by His blood.
(Propitiation) refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.
John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, p. 21.
Without the removal of the wrath that God has toward us, we have no hope of finding true forgiveness. This is why other religions fall short. God’s wrath rests upon them (see Romans 1:18-33), and their acts of self-righteousness cannot satisfy His wrath.
Jesus Pays the Debt of Sin
Sin is often described as a debt that we owe to God. Jesus gives us a picture of the debt we owe in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. There He tells the story of the servant that owed his master ten thousand talents, an amount that he would never be able to pay, even if he works 350 years straight. So the master starts to throw him into prison. The servant falls at the master’s feet, and begs for mercy, to which the master does give him mercy. The servant then goes on and demands a fellow servant pay him a days wage. When the fellow servant cannot pay up, he is thrown into prison. The master becomes aware and throws the first servant into prison until all is paid.
The debt is equated to our sin. While we may sin in a trifle way toward our fellow man, our sin against God is far more than we can ever pay. We need someone to pay that debt for us. This is where Christ’s atonement on the cross does just that. In that great doxological statement in Hebrews, we are shown the reality of His accomplishment on the cross. Once He finished His atoning work for sin, He sat down in the place of honor in the heavenlies.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus accomplished what He set out to do, make atonement for the sin of His followers. We are given a clue to this mission even in the giving of His name. His name, Jesus, means that He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
His main goal was dealing with our sin because we cannot do so. The scripture puts this forth over and over again. In giving us the LORD’s supper, Jesus tells us that the cup symbolizes the remissions of sin: “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).” The sacrament is to be a constant reminder of our need for the gospel. It is one of two visible representations of the gospel. We see the bread and the wine and we are reminded of the necessity of Christ’s death in the forgiveness of our sins. He became a curse for us, so that we did not endure the curse ourselves.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
In other words, Christ purchased our forgiveness, and us, through His own death on the cross. He became the curse in our redemption. He wasn’t leaving us to ourselves, in order to purchase our own redemption, because we cannot do so. This is why He came to die (and why God’s wrath burns against those of other religions when they refuse the atoning work of Christ, and set about trying to redeem themselves. They are justly deserving His wrath for suppressing the truth of their own nature, need, and the gift of the gospel).
One more verse, showing that the debt was paid in full:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).
No other religion can offer atonement because no other religion has Christ. There is no other place to turn to for salvation except through Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Other religions may tell their followers that if they do certain things, that salvation may be possible for them. But only in Christianity is there certainty of the forgiveness of sins, because that certainty rests in Christ’s atoning work, not in our pitiful acts of self-righteousness.
The Removal of Condemnation
Finally, only in Christianity is the condemnation that was on us for our sin, removed. In fact, this condemnation is only removed when a person believes in Christ, and His work, for salvation. This is why faith in Christ is so essential and at the heart of the gospel. We are not coming to Christ for a relationship with Him, but for the atoning work found on the cross. We need God’s wrath removed, our sins forgiven, and the condemnation dealt with. That is dealt with through faith in Christ.
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).
You may know John 3:16, but you would be better off memorizing John 3:18. This verse captures the gospel far more clearly, in that it helps us see that apart from Christ, we are justly condemned by God. You cannot take the love found in John 3:16, without seeing the condemnation that rests upon us when we reject God’s loving act of redemption.
We also seen in Romans 8, that condemnation has been dealt with. I will close with this passage.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).
Christ dealing with sin is one of the reasons that Christianity is far superior to any other religion, and is part of the series coming out of the post Ten Reasons Christianity is far Superior Than Any Other Religion. I have also written on the fact that the leaders of all other religions need Christ for their own salvation, and that Jesus is the only religious leader to be risen from the dead, thereby authenticating His earthly ministry, work, claims and sacrifice on the cross, and shown why the incarnation is important.