Just a portion of a sermon… taken from 1 Peter 3:18… For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.
Let it never be said that God owed us this atonement. Let it never be said that He was obligated to provide grace. Grace only comes out His goodness and is given to those who realize their own sin, helpless to do anything about relieving themselves of this insurmountable debt.
The debt of our sin is far beyond anything we can tackle. If you piled up your debt, it would be as high as Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet above sea level. For some of us, it would be higher. And no matter how much we worked on trying to free ourselves of this debt, it would be impossible for us to do so. It would be like God requiring us to climb Mount Everest with a pick axe, then chip away a bucket full of rock, then heading off to the sea to dump the bucket. And once we got the entire mountain chipped away and dumped in the sea, then He would free us from the debt.
That task, in and of itself is impossible to do, simply because it is so hard to climb Mount Everest. But even if we were given the ability to climb Mount Everest in order to chip away, even if we were given the ability and the desire, we could not do it because of the nature of our works. Our very works are polluted. And to think that we could accomplish that goal in, say, 20,000 years, would show that we are relying too much in our own ability. With every step up the mountain we take, the mountain would grow higher because of the pride of thinking we could take care of our own debt. Instead of Mount Sin being 29,029 feet, it would become 29,030 feet, and 29,031 feet, and so on and so on, to the point that would be hopeless.
And that is where we need to be with our own sin. We need to be hopeless because we cannot pay the debt we owe to God.
The picture I just painted or our own sinful Mount Everests, is the picture of all religions. They offer hope by saying it is possible for you to accomplish what you cannot accomplish. They tell you to climb the mountain, and never mind the fact that you can’t breath when you get to the top… just try harder. And once you get that first bucket done, you’re on your way.
The sad truth about religion is that mankind has been seeking His own ways to find atonement with God since Adam first fell. And the first experiment into religion was a failure. Cain decided to offer up fruit and veggies for his offering instead of shedding blood as a sacrifice. His atonement was insufficient, and God rejected Cain’s atonement.
All religions, other than true Christianity, try this. They all make attempts to find their own atonement for their sin, and all fall short.
What we need is one who is just to deal with our unjust natures. We need the righteousness of another. Thankfully, Peter tells us that Jesus is the answer to our dilemma.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…