Part 1- God Deals With Our Past

By Colleen Donahue

 In an earlier study I mentioned the plan of God to redeem man was called "the mystery of the gospel" by the Apostle Paul. It would involve the entire Godhead -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- and would be comprehensive so that it could include each and every person. Yet, it would not be automatic so as to override our free wills. It can only be applied to those who recognize and receive what God did for them through his Son Jesus.

The plan of God for redemption has three parts to it:

Part 1 - God deals with our past -- all the wrong things we have thought, spoken, or acted out.


1- As a man, the sinless Jesus was able to take the punishment of God (in our place) for the sins that we have committed. The prophet Isaiah prophesied this thousands of years before it happened.
Isaiah 53:5-6

And the New Testament writers confirm this in many other places. Here are a few:
Hebrews 2:9 / 1 Peter 3:18

2-The fact that God laid upon Jesus the guilt and sins of the world is the only reason we can be forgiven.
Acts 13:38-39 / Ephesians 1:7

At this point you may be protesting. "While I may have been born with a sin nature, I am essentially a good person. I am a law-abiding citizen. I love my family and am teaching my kids to respect God and others. We go to church and I pay my taxes. We help our neighbors and I contribute to charity whenever I can. I don't see how this applies to me."

3- It's true that most people consider themselves morally good and headed for Heaven. But that's because they don't have a true definition of "good". Let's look at how Jesus defines "good". Read all three passages first.
Matthew 19: 16-24 / Mark 10:17-25 / Luke 18:18-25

Let's look at a few facts first:
Luke tells us the man was a ruler, meaning he had wealth and power. The fact that he came running shows both his earnestness and his anxiety. He fell on his knees before Jesus to pay the customary respect and showed that he had the highest regard for Jesus.

Mark and Luke tell us that he addressed Jesus as "Good Teacher" -- a title that Jews were in the habit of applying to their religious teachers -- not because he was referring to Christ's moral character or that he saw Jesus as the Messiah.

His question to Jesus in Mark and Luke was "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Matthew records him as, "What good deed must I do to have eternal life?"

This young ruler had been told by his Jewish teachers that people were saved by obeying the law. He had earnestly tried to do that and yet he was not at peace. To have eternal life means to be saved for the happiness of Heaven and this man wasn't sure he would have that at his end.

Jesus startles us all with the question, "Why do you call me good?" In a gentle rebuke he is telling the ruler (and us) something like this: "You suppose me to be only a man and yet you give me a greeting that belongs only to God. Don't you know that no one is good but God alone?”

This ruler was using the title as a habit of compliment and flattery for he did not see Jesus with infinite perfection because he was the Son of God. Hence he was misguided in his flattery and Jesus calls him out for it.

Then Jesus tells him to do what God has commanded and proceeds to state a few of the ten commandments. Jesus does not mean that the man could be saved by works of the law for the Bible teaches clearly this is not the case.
Romans 3:20, 28 / Romans 4:5 / Galatians 2:16 / Ephesians 2:9

Rather, Jesus is testing the man. He has deceived himself in thinking that he has kept them all -- yet-- he still feels that something is missing in all his "doing". Jesus wants to show him that he has not kept all the commandments and he is in need of a Saviour.

Matthew records Jesus saying, "If you wish to be perfect....". That word "perfect" means "complete in all it's parts -- finished--no part wanting."

Mark records Jesus as saying, "You lack one thing..."

Luke records Jesus as saying, "there is still one thing lacking..."

In other words, the young ruler was not perfect in his law keeping. The law required that he should love God supremely and then love his neighbor as himself. If that were the case, he would be willing to give up his wealth in service to God and man. Jesus commanded him to do just that to test his character and show how he had not kept the law as he pretended. He needed a better righteousness than himself if he would have eternal life. He needed a Savior.

Then Jesus gave him a final command to, "Follow me." That would mean leaving the comfort of his nice home to move about with Jesus and his band of disciples. It would mean living as Jesus lived (often without a roof over his head) and obeying him. (Remember that as a ruler he was used to people obeying him - not vis versa.)

When the young ruler heard this it says he became very sad because he was very rich. Wealth and power were his idols and he loved them more than God. He had NOT kept all the commandments from his youth. In fact he had failed miserably in his love for God and his fellow men. And so he chose to leave the Saviour and probably inquired no more about his eternal life.

4- I go into this issue about being "good" because we don't have a true sense about what is good from God's perspective. He sees things quite different from the way that we do.
Isaiah 29:13 / Isaiah 64:6-7 / Ezekiel 33:31-32

In fact God's assessment of us (as fallen man) is pretty sobering.
Jeremiah 17:9

Why not apply this test to yourself to see how you stand in God's sight? For this test we'll use the ten commandments.

1. Have you ever told a lie -- even a "white lie"? If yes, what does that make you?
(Answer: It makes you a liar.)

2. Have you ever stolen something, regardless of value? If so what does that make you?
(Answer: It makes you a thief.)

3. Have you ever committed adultery? Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a man or woman to lust after them has already committed adultery with them in their heart." Have you ever done that?

4. Have you ever used God's name as a swear word? If so, instead of using a four letter filth word to express disgust, you're using the name of God who gave you life. That's called blasphemy and the Bible says, "The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7)

If you said "Yes" to one or all of these questions then by your own admission you are some combination of a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart and we've only looked at four of the commandments.

Question: So, if God judges you by His standard, on the Day of Judgment will you be innocent or guilty?
Answer: Guilty -- Romans 3:23

Question: And if you are guilty, do you think you would go to Heaven or Hell? (It's here that you may be protesting that God is a good God and he'll overlook your "minor" sins so that you'll be in Heaven with Him. In one thing you are right. God is good and because He is good, He'll see that justice is done. It's because God is good that he must by nature punish sin wherever it is found and you have just admitted that you have violated God's moral law. In fact, when you think that a good God will overlook your sins, then you are worshipping a “god of your own making” and that violates the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Question: Do you see why you need a Savior?
Acts 2:37

Answer: Every man and woman is guilty of breaking God's moral law -- which God has embedded in every heart. (Therefore, you have no excuse for not remembering them!)

5- When we violate God's moral law our conscience immediately tells us we have done so. If we claim we haven't done anything wrong, who are we fooling?
1 John 1:8,10

If instead we confess these sins to God what will HE do?
1 John 1:9

6- If we ignore our conscience and continue down the path of sin (even what looks to us like a minor sin) then no matter how good we look compared with other people we stand condemned before God.
Psalm 32:3-4 / Ezekiel 33:10-11

7- Everyone of us needs a Saviour because all of us come from Adam and we have inherited a sin nature. Therefore we sin.
Psalm 51:5 / Romans 5:18a

8- It is a fact that God laid upon Jesus all the guilt and sin of the world so that we could be forgiven of every transgression against his moral law.
Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12

All sin is against God (Psalm 51:4a). The forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus taking our guilt and shame upon himself is PART ONE of our salvation and enables our PAST to be dealt with completely.

In PART TWO of this study we'll continue to look at how God's plan for our redemption deals with our present situation and then into our future.

SUMMARY - Redemption: God Deals With our Past

Most of us think we are good people because we never commit any of the big sins like murder, adultery, big theft etc. We compare ourselves to each other and conclude that we are pretty good people. What we don't account for is that God's standard of good and our own are very different. In our comparisons to other sinners, we may look good but in comparison to God we look like what we really are -- a sinner.

Because we have inherited a sin nature from Adam, we all just naturally sin. We can't do anything else. That's why all of us need a Savior.

God's plan of redemption provides a way to save each of us from our past sins, present sins, and future sins. We can be forgiven of every sin from our past because God has chosen to put the punishment that we deserve onto his son Jesus. God can do this because all sin is against himself. The sinless Jesus bore our sins and shame at the Cross where he died so that we would not have to bear it. It is truly the great exchange.

Next Study: MP#7

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