The Need for Death
A daily devotion for December 20th
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will,[a] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[b] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:15
You cannot avail yourself of all that Jesus Christ provides for you in terms of release from a guilty conscience, unless there is a death. The will is useless without it. In fact, he says, death is so important that even the shadow, the picture in the Old Testament, required blood. Not, of course, the blood of Jesus Christ, but the blood of bulls and goats. Blood is inescapable.
That brings us to the point: Why? We shall never come to the answer until we squarely face the implications of the substitutionary character of the death of Jesus Christ. His death was not for his own sake, it was for ours. He was our representative. This is what God is so desperately trying to convey to us.
The cross is God's way of saying there is nothing in us worth saving at all, if we remain set apart from Christ. As we were, men and women quite apart from Christ, God says,
There is nothing you can do for me, not one thing. But when Christ became what we were, when he was made sin for us, God passed sentence upon him, and put him to death. This is God's way of saying to us,
There is not a thing you can do by your own effort that is worth a thing. All that we can ever be, without Christ, is totally set aside. Death eliminates us, wipes us out.
That is why our activity does not improve our relationship with him in the least degree. It does not make us any more acceptable. See what this does to our human pride. Who has not heard Christians talking in such a way as to give the impression that the greatest thing that ever happened to God was the day he found them. But we are not indispensable to him; he is indispensable to us. If we become bankrupt to do anything for God, we are then able to receive everything from him.
The point of the whole passage is: If we refuse to reckon this way, to count this to be true, if we refuse this, then there are no benefits of the new covenant available to us. A covenant is not in effect until there is the death of the testator, the death of the will maker. Christ the will-maker died, and it is we, through Christ our representative, who also died that death. But if we will not accept it, if we will not agree to this and accept God's sentence of death upon all that we are, then we cannot have the benefits of his covenant. If we fight this sentence of death, for the rest of our Christian lives we shall be troubled with a guilty conscience. We will never rest in any final acceptance before God. We shall always be wrestling with the problem of whether we have done enough and have been pleasing enough to God by our activity. But if we accept this reality, the effect is to render all our service to him pure delight.
Father, open my eyes to this new principle of human behavior. Teach me to grasp this and to accept thy sentence of death upon everything in me that is not of Christ.
Life Application: Are we learning to be liberated from our own futile efforts to please God? Are we experiencing the heritage of God's new arrangement for living, replacing our dead works with the power of Christ's indwelling Presence?
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Copyright © 2014 by Ray Stedman Ministries — This daily devotion is from the book Immeasurably More: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.