Fortunately when I was a young teenager Barb went to a different church, for if she had seen what I'm about to tell you our first date might never have happened - someone came out with a sun tan in a bottle and I fell for it.
It was advertised as easy, guaranteed, just pour some in your hand and smooth over your body and you would have an amazing tan. What a great idea I thought, I'll look great Easter morning with my new tan!
The first clue should have been the directions to use a gloved hand to apply it, but I passed that off as for sissy's. The second clue should have been the warning that it might turn people with light complexion orange, but I reasoned I didn't have THAT light of a complexion. Apparently I was wrong.
This was after all, the early 1970's and I had my Easter suit all set - white turtle neck sweater and a bright blue jacket. I mean the bright blue a televangelist might wear on TV - and as it turned out, a face as orange as an Oompa Loompa in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was 13 or 14 and to this day it is the most embarrassing moment in my whole life.
I had no choice as it wouldn't scrub off. And unfortunately that day was cloudless with the sun at a perfect angle to highlight my orange face against my white turtle neck sweater at the after service meal on the front lawn. I was always a big kid, so I was a giant Oompa Loompa at that.
I tried to reason the stares I received as admiration for my sharp look, but when that little kid ran away from me screaming I knew it was no good pretending. So I swallowed my pride and just told the truth to my friends and anyone who would listen - it was an accident, really! A horrible industrial accident! I didn't know what I was doing, really!
I couldn't apologize enough for my orange face as every time they turned to me to say something, they burst out laughing and had to turn away to collect themselves, then turn back to me to start to say something only to turn away in laughter all over again. I just wanted to go home and lock myself in my room.
And that is so often the way church culture teaches about our sins when it should be teaching how Jesus took away the sin of the world. Understanding the difference changes everything. We are told we are like I felt - permanently stained and a laughing stock to God, that even though we are with Him now and our sins are forgiven, they are still somehow stained into our being and marking us until we get to heaven.
I imagined that as I committed a sin there was some sort of heavenly court, and as I asked one more time for forgiveness the Father would lean on His elbow towards Jesus and ask: "What do you think Son; should we forgive him again or make him sweat a bit?" and Jesus would answer, "He's done this before Father, lets make him sweat, let's give him half a day and then we'll forgive him."
Until one sunny day early in 1985...
I was driving north on I-25 through Denver with the Subaru's sunroof open, the sun was shining off the snow capped mountains on my left, and in contrast to the beautiful day, I felt horrible. I had done or said something that I needed to ask forgiveness for, and felt like a repeat offender coming before the judge for the same crime for the hundredth time to beg forgiveness I had no right to. So I put on a brave face saying:
"Thank you Father for your grace, thank you for your mercy and forgiveness, thank you for I John 1:9 that says if I confess my sin you are faithful and just to forgive my sin, and not just that, but it says you cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank you for your faithfulness to me to forgive me..."
And at that point the Father interrupted my prayer with a loud voice that seemed slightly exasperated and slightly indignant: "I'm not being faithful to YOU, I'm being faithful to the work of my Son on the cross!"
An image of a tree came before me and I could suddenly see the root system. Across the root system normally out of sight but visible to me was the label 'Sin of the world', and up the trunk was the word 'Death', and in the branches and over the many fruit on the tree was the label 'Sins'.
Suddenly I got it - Jesus killed the root! Individual sins flow from the root of the sin of the world through death to individual sins, meaning all sins would have their eventual conclusion in death.
Once the sin of the world was taken away, what remains is the withering leaves and fruit with no more life left in them. I was free! Jesus' focus on the cross wasn't on me, but the sin of the world, which was a much more efficient way of handling it rather than a heavenly court flipping a coin about forgiving me each time I sinned.
Nothing left undone
By taking away the sin of the world it meant there was no sin I could sin that wasn't already forgiven and taken out of the way. That said let me qualify the statement - Jesus did not die for Himself therefore the one sin not covered was rejecting Him. That is what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit who is the agent of salvation - He didn't die for Himself so to reject Him is to reject the work of the Holy Spirit which is salvation.
But...I do not reject Him so therefore when He took away the sin of the world all sins up on that tree, are dead, have no power. That is Paul's point in Romans 6:11 that we are dead to sin because sin is dead to us.
Battle from a position of having won
There is a stream of the faith that makes God our adversary and that if we get enough people praying the sheer numbers may persuade Him to act. That if we get enough people fasting their sincerity and sacrifice may impress Him enough to move Him to act. If we can gather enough people in one place to scream and shout and call down heaven then we can move Him to bring revival in the earth. He isn't our adversary.
Ephesians 1:3 says as a result of Jesus having taken away the sin of the world, the Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. Ephesians 2:4-7 says the Father brought salvation and has seated us in Christ next to Him at His own right hand for the purpose that in the ages to come He (Father) can continue to show us the riches of His kindness towards us.
We have been given the right to use the name of Jesus to command evil spirits away from us. Jesus never prayed for anyone to be delivered, He commanded spirits out and away. The apostles never prayed the Father to stop demons from harassing them, they commanded them out. We battle from having already won! We don't pray about demonic assignments, we use the name of Jesus to command them away!
Sinners sin because it is their nature to do so; Christians sin by choice
Ephesians 2:3 says before Christ we 'were by nature children of wrath'. That means our nature was to sin. But our nature has changed, we have been born again, sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are in the process of renewing our minds to think as God thinks, which means when we sin we do so by choice, not by nature.
We don't have an orange face anymore, stained by sin. "You were before darkness, but are now light in the Lord; Live as children of light." Ephesians 5:8
Jesus took away the sin of the world. Your individual sins, your past sins, today's sins if there be any, next years' sins - were all taken away in the sin of the world. That root is dead therefore the fruit that came from that root is dead. You and I are free to live FOR Him, using this amazing grace as empowerment to live holy and godly lives.
And that's where we'll pick it up next week, until then, blessings,