Monday, May 20, 2019 -
One of the biggest impediments to people coming to Christ is their realizations that they need a savior – that they are indeed sinners. Often when we speak to people, we walk them through the “Roman Road,” beginning in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” But the Old Testaments can be used, as well, to point people to their need for a Savior. Paul says in Galations 3:24 that “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” He also says, in Romans 3:20 that “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
So the law shows us that we need to be saved from our sins and that there is no way we can do this by ourselves. It shows our need for a Saviors and points to Him who alone would provide the means of our salvation or sanctification. The whole premise of much of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 is to point to our need for a Savior. For Jesus, Himself said, “Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish it, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Jesus here was speaking of the moral law, not the civil law, or ceremonial law. He shows in following verses how hopeless it is for is to keep the law, for Christ brings to our attention that our violation of that law does not encompass merely our actions, but the thoughts of our heart – our motives – even though we may not follow through with our thoughts. His last command in Matthew 5 is “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (v. 48).
But the law, and many other Scriptures, including many in the Old Testament, shows how impossible that is. “Thou wast angry, for we sinned, we continued in them a long time; and shall we be saved? For all of us have become like one who is unclean and all of our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (rags)” Isaiah 64:5-6. Do you get this? This means even our righteous deeds are like menstrual rags. Why would something good be considered evil? Well, why were the Pharisee’s righteous deeds considered sinful? It is because of the attitudes of their hearts – their motives. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind.” Our motives matter! I Samuel 16:7 says, “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And so, no matter how righteous and “good” he thinks he may be, “indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). “For there is no man who does not sin (II Chron. 6:36). “And who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from sin?’” (Proverbs 20:9). Job said, “How can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:10). Indeed, there is nothing we can do to purify our hearts. Yet, our sinful hearts bear severe consequences; “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Isaiah 43:24 says, “You have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities.”
Yet, even in the Old Testament, God promises He Himself provides a way, through the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, who “we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgression, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging, we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:4-7).
And so, with Christ’s death, He bore your sin and my sin on the cross. He bore the penalty for our sins. And “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). The Lord says, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). What an awesome promise!
These are all great Scriptures you can use with your Jewish friends too because they are just about all in the Old Testament. God provided such a wonderful plan for mankind throughout all of Scripture, a plan in which Christ is the center – both throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament!
For Christ, Himself says in Job 5:39-40 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is these that bear witness of He; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” Salvation, indeed, comes only from Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the cross for your sin and mine. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save us from our sin and separation from God. Certainly not anything we can do ourselves.