Of course, Jesus came to die for our sins, but what if there is a much larger task He was looking to accomplish when He wrapped Himself in human flesh and bore the sins of humanity?
What does the Creator of the universe desire out of His creation?
When He formed man out of the dust, what was His purpose for us to fulfill that would take priority over everything else?
When Jesus comes on the scene, He tells us plainly what God is looking for.
“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23
God is looking for worshipers.
If worship is our main purpose, then we need to be highly concerned with anything that would hinder that intimate worship of the Father.
I have had several times in my life where I entered into worship and it was so uneventful I practically heard crickets chirping.
I felt like God was very distant, and I couldn’t look past my own failures and a sense that God was upset with me because of the sins I had committed.
I believe when Jesus came to earth, He was not just dying for our sins but was also systematically dismantling the two biggest hindrances of intimate worship.
Let me show you an example of this in action.
We all know the powerful story of the woman caught in adultery and the forgiveness she experienced, but I believe there is more at work in this story than we may realize.
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
We know from Romans 7:7 that the law revealed sin, and from 2nd Corinthians 3:6-18 that the law was “the ministry of condemnation.”
The law brought an overwhelming awareness of the sin, which then produced condemnation.
The Greek word for condemnation is katakrinō which means:
to judge worthy of punishment
The Pharisees, who represented the law, were declaring that the woman was worthy of punishment for not measuring up to the standards of the law and deserved to be stoned to death.
I could imagine the woman, let’s call her Diane, was standing before the Pharisees and feeling condemned like she did not measure up to the religious standards they revered so much. Diane felt rejected by the religious establishment of her day, and I would imagine she felt so ashamed she could barely show her face.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Jesus was releasing the work of the cross early.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” Col. 2:13
The condemnation that came from the law was now dealt with, but there stood the King of the universe, probably about to smite her into powder for her terrible sin, right?
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
What did Jesus just do?
He just systematically dealt with the two biggest hindrances of intimate worship.
- Condemnation from not measuring up to a religious standard.
- Condemnation from God for living in sin.
So here’s the deal.
At that moment, the woman was no longer “the woman caught in adultery.”
Her new name might as well be “Diane, The woman forgiven and loved by Jesus who will never be condemned.”
This is the exact same spiritual reality we all enter into once we believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. Romans 10:9
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
We go from being lost and condemned to forgiven and born again, free to fully worship God without condemnation, which again, is the feeling of being worthy of punishment.
But here is the problem.
It’s still possible to sin even after we step into this reality of forgiveness in Christ.
Of course, you and I know both that all too well, because we all sin even after we are born again.
When we sin after we have received the Better covenant of forgiveness, we feel terrible, and often a sense of condemnation.
Sin makes us feel condemned, even though there is no condemnation because we are in Christ.
I want us to look at how Jesus chose to end His interaction with this woman who was now forgiven because I believe it gives us a glimpse into what Jesus was trying to accomplish for the woman, and for us today.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I believe Jesus knew even though the woman was now forgiven and not condemned, if she continued in sin, she would host those terrible false-feelings of being condemned by God that would drive her away from a lifestyle of radical worship and admiring God.
I think we often wonder, “What can we say that will cause people turn from sin?”
I believe the answer is encouraging people to live a lifestyle of radical worship.
The joy of condemnation-free worship will always overpower the temporary pleasure of sin that only brings temporary pleasure and feelings of condemnation.
A radical worshiper will always run from sin because they know condemnation will come in and convince them they are not worthy to worship God, thus stripping the joy from their worship experience.
What if I told you that even the Son of God felt condemned by God when He took our sin upon Him?
We all know Jesus took our sin upon Him at the cross, even though He was righteous.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2nd Cor. 5:21
We hear Jesus make a statement that has caused quite a bit of controversy.
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Matt. 27:46
The Greek word for forsaken here is egkataleipō which means:
- leave in straits, leave helpless
- totally abandoned, utterly forsaken
Why did He say that?
The Scripture is pretty clear that the Father would never leave the Son.
2nd Cor. 5:19 “…God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself , not counting people’s sins against them…
John 10:30 “I and my Father are One.”
John 10:38 “…The Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
John 14:9 “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.”
John 15:23 “He that hates me hates My Father also.”
John 16:32 “Behold, the hour has come, that you will be scattered, every man to his own, and will leave me alone: yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me.”
What if at this terrible yet glorious moment when the Son of God took on the full weight of our sin, He was simply verbalizing the false sense of condemnation that comes with sin, even for those who are righteous?
That’s how terrible sin is, it will make you feel condemned even when your not condemned.
God had already declared that Jesus was His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.
“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17
That reality did not change for Jesus on the cross, but rather Jesus only thought that reality had changed because of how much sin distorted His perception of His sonship due to the blinding effects of sin.
This also happens to us when we are forgiven, yet sin anyways. We are still forgiven and still God’s beloved son or daughter, but now we don’t feel like it. We feel condemned, and like God has abandon us. That’s why it’s so dangerous to sin after we are born again.
Imagine worship is like a glass of water, and sin and religious guilt are like a single drop of red food coloring. It only takes one small drop of food coloring to turn the entire bottle of water red. That’s what happens when we sin, or feel we don’t measure up to a religious standard, our worship experience gets immersed in condemnation which robs us of the joy of intimate worship.
Written by: J.A. Hardgrave