This article was first published May 28th 2018 in German. It has gone through several updates. Since translation now into English the material has been fortified and some new material was added.
The only people who were in a contract or rather a covenant oath with Yahweh which obligated them to make atonement by means of sacrifice were the Hebrews, who lived under the administration of the Law of Moses until AD 70.
From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and confirmed by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17), until the abolition of the ancient Jewish religious system and its religious center in Jerusalem – which became the conclusion of the Sinaitic Covenant Age in September of AD 70, covered the time-period of “the last days”.
Notice that it wasn’t “the end time,” but the time of the end.
Ironically, many people think that the end times are the time when “time” and “the earth” will end.
We are not living in the last days. The generation of Jews living in the time of Jesus and the apostles were living in the last days. It was the end of an age. It was the conclusion of the Sinaitic Covenant age when God’s judgment would begin in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
1 Peter 4
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
When Jesus regularly exhorted the Jewish people to believe in Him (John 3:16), they were presented with an opportunity to evade this judgment that was pending in Jerusalem.
Through the ultimate sacrifice for – sin (the condition, the sin-nature, the old man), the sins and transgressions against the Law of Moses, and every human failure to be perfect, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, reconciled not only the Hebrew people but the entire world to God.
Every human being benefited from the cross and resurrection of Jesus and was made a new creation in spirit. Although all Hebrews have been made a new creation in spirit since Christ’s resurrection, if they persisted to reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and Savior then by the year AD 70, they would suffer the wrath of God in their physical being when that day of destruction came.
The only way out of the covenant of the law was to consciously accept Christ their Messiah, and so acknowledge the New Covenant in Him. This would include the realisation that their old identity, whether it meant their identity in Adam the first man or including their Jewish identity was crucified together with Christ and that they were now spiritually a new creation in Christ.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Many Christians are under the impression that they should ask God for forgiveness for their supposed sins all the time. This has almost become an obsessive pre-occupation because they are conditioned to be extremely sin-conscious. The truth however is that God poured out forgiveness for all, the very moment Jesus died on the cross. When we ask and plead with God to forgive us. We are in fact asking Him to do something He already did two-thousand years ago. That means in essence that we are not believing what He has done in the first place, which amounts to unbelief. It does not matter how sorry you are, how many tears you cry, how sincere your remourse is. You are sincerely wrong, from a purely scriptural stand point.
Our task is to acknowledge the truth. The fact that Jesus gave His life, and established the New Covenant of forgiveness at His death on the cross, and we were forgiven of the debt of sin at that very moment. So by faith we look back at that fact. We acknowledge it, we believe it and exercise faith in this truth according to the Gospel revealed in the Word of God. This is the true meaning of repentance. It is a turning to Christ by faith in what He was accomplished.
The only people who had to ask God for forgiveness were the Jews, who lived under the administration of the Law of Moses. The Sinaitic Covenant was added alongside the already existing Abrahamic Covenant. The first was a Grant covenant based on grace and the promise of God. But the second was a Vassal Covenant based on obedience. This second Covenant had the sacrificial system, which prophetically pointed towards the coming of the Messiah. The sacrificial system, specifically Teshuvah, that led to Yom Kippur, the Feast of Atonement, once a year was designed around this purpose. That’s because the blood sacrifices were a shadow of Christ who was to come in their future. Therefore, they were looking to a time in the future when a sacrifice would be made that would secure true forgiveness for all. The blood sacrifices under the law of Moses meant that the Jews were granted forgiveness on credit on the basis that Christ would one day end all sacrifices and obtain forgiveness for the whole human race.
The law of Moses was part of that old Sinaitic covenant, and breaking that law was a breach of that covenant. Breaking this covenant meant that the wrath of God would come upon them. A covenant is like a contract. Every contract has its rules. The law of Moses contained the rules system (terms and conditions) of this covenant. The only way out of this covenant-bond was to die. Those of the believing Jews who followed Christ understood that they had died with Christ and had risen with Him into a new life. They were no longer subject to the old covenant and no longer obigated to keep it. They were now part of the New Covenant in Christ. Many Jewish-Christians of that day and generation still kept the Law of Moses enough to fit in, because of their role within their society and their culture. However, as they progressed in their knowledge and revelation of Christ they learned that they were no longer obligated to keep it.
While the Jews were obeying the law of Moses, they would continue to make the required sacrifices. If those who lived from the time of the cross to the abolishing of the law of Moses (AD 70) chose to believe in Christ, they would become aware that they had received God’s forgiveness through Christ, and they would never again have to offer a sin offering as was required while living under the law of Moses.
Do Christians today need to ask God to forgive them?
If you know you did something that may have caused harm to someone, it is only right you seek to make amends where you can. This is a basic healthy principle for human relationships. Apologizing really expresses that you owe that other person your remorse and you express your willingness to make things right if you can when given the opportunity. However, God is not asking us to apologise to Him, or even to try and fix things. He is asking us to believe Him, to believe His word, to trust that what Christ did for us forever sealed the New Covenant of forgiveness. Consequently we can learn to trust Him to live from our place and position of righteousness in Christ.
I read something a preacher wrote in an article. He said; “Jesus paid for the sins of this world on the cross, but did not forgive”. Now, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.
I have read other books where Preachers explained that even though Christ died for the whole world and forgiveness is available to everyone, we must in faith ask God to forgive us in order to appropriate forgiveness into our own life. Well you see where this is wrong is that we are not asking God to forgive us again. So we are to appropriate forgiveness by asking Him to forgive when He already forgave? No, we are acting on our faith in the fact that we were forgiven. We are not asking Him to do it again. Rather we are thanking Him that He did forgive and so appropriate that truth for our heart and mind to experience that forgiveness.
Forgiving someone means that all outstanding debt has been removed. Guilt was replaced with forgiveness and followed by reconciliation and peace. Another point to keep in mind is that if Jesus paid God the Father by being punished on the cross, then His sacrifice was payment. If payment was made for our debt we were not forgiven. Forgiveness means no payment is required. For example if the credit company you owe money to contacts you to say they will forgive you your debt, then you can ask them all of all the monthly payments you made back. God has forgiven the sin of all mankind in Christ. It wasn’t an acquittal either, like finding a criminal not guilty. We were guilty but we were pardoned. Jesus’ sacrifice was the means by which He could establish the New Covenant, which is the basis for God to forgive and extend His righteousness as a gift to all.
God reconciled us to Himself in Christ thousands of years before you were even born. That time on the cross was the moment your sins were forgiven. At that same moment Christ pardoned us all before God. The death of Christ at that point in time affected everyone in all directions, past, present and future.
The word “reconciled” means: “to be made friends again”. We were reconciled to God, the moment our sins were forgiven.
The word atonement is also the Greek word: katallagḗ, which also means; Exchange – i.e. the business of money changers.
2 Corinthians 5
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The word “made” comes from the Greek word; Ginomai, meaning – to be made.
This clearly implies that the word “righteousness” here is not a reference to right actions or a certain way of behaving. It’s about being made righteous by nature. Righteousness is given to us as a gift and becomes our new state of being.
Just as through Adam the nature of sin corrupted our human spirit, through our death and rebirth by the resurrection of Christ, our human spirit was made holy, righteous and united with the Spirit of Christ.
The human spirit before and after
In 2 Corinthians 5: 19-21 we once again behold the amazing truth of the great exchange. Verse 20 is not an occasion presented by Paul to the Corinthian Christians to be reconciled to God as though it had not happened yet. It was a request to accept the fact that this had happened.
Asking God to forgive you?
When you ask God to forgive you, you must by default also believe that He hasn’t forgiven you until you ask for forgiveness. When you ask God for something He has already done, you are in essence saying you do not believe what Christ has already done for you through His death and resurrection.
If you ask God to forgive you, believing that God will only forgive when you ask for it, why do you think He will forgive if you now? Is it because of your sincere remorse? Your tears? Your emotions of regret? Coincidentally Judas Iscariot also became emotional when he realized what he had done. He did show regret, and shed many tears before he hung himself. Why did he hang himself? This could be an assumption, but I believe it to be a safe assumption. Was it because he could not believe what Jesus’ death meant? Surely, had he believed what the sacrificial death of Christ meant he could have accepted the gift of forgiveness. If you’re asking for forgiveness because everyone else in Church habitually does it and well, it’s just our tradition, I say make a decision. What if the tradition does not line up with scriptural truth? Either stick to tradition or go with what the Scriptures say.
It is only normal to feel regret and remorse. But it’s only when you apply faith in the truth of God’s Word that you can receive, or rather take hold of that which has already freely been given to you. If your feelings of remorse lead you to acknowledge the truth you are practicing true repentance. So in that context we can say that emotions of remorse and regret are hugely important only if it leads you to embrace the truth about the fact that you already were forgiven. That’s how you honor the tremendous work Christ finished for you.
Only confessing your sins has absolutely nothing to do with repentance. But acknowledging your wrong doing and believing that you were forgiven because of Christ and your death in His death and your new life hidden in His life, now that’s powerful.
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man [only]as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
In the verses above, Paul explains that at least one of the two in the marriage covenant had to die before that covenant could be accepted as ended. He first stated that this analogy was given to those who understood the principles of the Law of Moses. Well, the husband here is a reference to the law of Moses. But the husband did not die (until the abolishing of the law of Moses in AD 70).
The law of Moses didn’t die, we died.
We died in Christ on the cross. But we were never under the law of Moses. The Hebrew people who lived up to AD 70 lived under this law of Moses unless the individual accepted and believed in Christ and by faith they believed that they were crucified with Christ and died with Him and that they were therefore delivered from government of the law of Moses.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
By the way, if a person understood that they are in Christ, (Christ being their husband) and thereby benefit from the blessings of the New Covenant, then trying to go back to another Covenant i.e. the Sinaitic Covenant with the Law of Moses would amount to spiritual adultery. Returning under the Law of Moses means returning to the Old Sinaitic Covenant. It’s like ignoring the current up to date contract with it’s terms and conditions and switching to another older version. How can the old Covenant that ended by your death in Christ somehow rule over you now? That makes no sense. Did Christians who to this day claim that we are still under parts of the law of Moses truly consider this?
Before AND after the cross
The apostle Paul, the other apostles and their contemporaries were the only generation of believers who lived before AND also after the cross. They were the only ones who lived in the sin conditions of Adam before the cross AND after the resurrection of Jesus Christ lived as a new creation in the righteousness of Christ
The “sin-nature” (attributed to mankind because of Adam) was never really your sin. It was Adam’s sin. Since sin is a spiritual condition and not an act, this condition, which was a corrupt spiritual nature, was passed on to the generations after Adam.
This problem was never an issue between God and the sin of mankind. This matter was between God and the first man, Adam. That is why the apostle Paul also calls Jesus the last Adam, indicating that he would carry away the state or condition of sin that came from the first Adam. It was a matter to be solved between the first Adam and the last Adam.
Christ was God’s sacrificial lamb whom carried away sin. By His sacrifice Christ cut the New Covenant and sealed it with His blood. According to this New Covenant’s contract mankind’s sin was forever forgiven. In this way Christ destroyed the works of Satan. Christ bound the strong man and spoiled his goods – thus He redeemed mankind. The state of sin came to an end when Christ bore it in Himself into his death. By His resurrection Christ conquered death, and was raised from the dead without sin.
The last among those living while both Covenants were active side by side (The Sinaitic Covenant and the New Covenant) were the following groups of people who; ultimately died according to the judgment of the Law of Moses AD 70 – Even those who survived the destruction, could no longer make a sacrifice for atonement. The law of Moses was abolished, the temple was destroyed, the priesthood was no more. The law of Moses required that only members of the tribe of Levi would serve as priests. When the Temple was destroyed, all records of the genealogy of the twelve tribes of Israel which were kept in the Temple were destroyed. No Jew in our day can definitively prove they are a descendant of Levi. For those who believe that the temple will be rebuilt and that the sacrificial system will be revived, there can be no priesthood without evidence that they are from Levitical descend.
Then there were those who put their faith in Christ during the approximately 40 years from Christ’s resurrection until AD 70 and came to know that their sins had been forgiven and that they were made righteous in Christ.
So then technically after the cross and resurrection of Christ, there wasn’t anyone who needed forgiveness from (Adam’s) sin. The condition of sin state or nature of sin had ceased to exist.
EVERYONE born after the cross. Including YOU, were born righteous like Jesus Himself! That’s because we are ALL in Him.
You see, it is not the forgiveness of the sin nature that guarantees eternal salvation. It is a righteous new creation in Christ that makes us partakers of eternal life. However, sin was a hindrance and Christ removed it for all. Forgiveness of sin(s) is amazing, but without the New Birth as a New Creation united with the resurrection life of Christ, we would still only have half a benefit. The ultimate goal of the redemptive work of Christ was to give us His divine life free from the nature of sin. Because of Christ’s resurrection life in us, and our spirit united with His life we already possess eternal life. When the physical body dies we will receive our immortal body and be in heaven forever.
You are a new creation in Christ. When the Father looks at you, He looks to His right hand where Jesus is sat, because you are in Him. He sees you and Christ as one. God upheld His everlasting New Covenant of Peace since it came into effect. Does the risen Christ need forgiveness from the Father? This is obviously ridiculous! Remember we are in Him. We neither need that which is already ours, but we must acknowledge that we are and therefore true repentance is faithfully believing that we were forgiven. If we were forgiven then we are forgiven. If we were made righteous with God’s own righteousness, then we are righteous.
If you were justified with the righteousness of God in Christ, would you still need forgiveness for Adam’s sin? If you cannot break the law of Moses because it is no longer active, would you need forgiveness for breaking a law and covenant that no longer exists and is no longer active?
If God were to punish you for sins, He would have to punish Jesus. If He were to punish you, it would mean that the blood of Jesus was insufficient to uphold the New Covenant. But the blood of Jesus is more than sufficient. It is the eternal seal and guarantee of a Covenant that shall never be broken. If God the Father were to punish you now for your sins, He would be breaking that Covenant of Peace, which is a Covenant of forgiveness. God will never ever forgive you because you were already forgiven before you were born. God has never forgiven you during your life because you were forgiven in Christ when he died on the cross 2100 years ago. God has an ever present tense continuous attitude of forgiveness towards you.
Can God still become angry? Absolutely, but despite His indignation against some people’s evil behavior and injustice He is able to uphold the New Covenant irrespective. What about the gross injustices caused against people, against humanity as a whole and against this planet? In this world we are to take our stands and carry our own cross of responsibility to hold out the truth and stand against these injustices. As believers we have a call to pray and intercede for our world. As a society we the people must learn to finally restrain evil. God is always ready to empower those who will trust Him and take positive action within their role and function in life. But if God was going take out all the evil reprobates just like that, it would make Him a tyrant. Then His Covenant of Peace would be one of double standards. He expects us to be the judges with integrity and character, and by His grace working through us we will eventually see a safer and fairer world for everyone. As it stands, if we were under a Suzerain Vassal Covenant, which is what the Sinaitic Covenant was, then evildoers would be directly punished by God. But that would also mean the same thing for you. When you break one point of the 613 commandments of Moses’ Law. By the work of the cross forgiveness and the gift of righteousness is poured upon humanity. The cross made an equal playing field for all. But it also placed responsibility in our hands to build our life’s, and our communities on the principle and commandment to love another as He loved us. So love must be our guiding principle, and we must do so in truth. Truth and love are one. The moment truth leaves the principle of love, it’s no longer true. If people become established in the truth that they were forgiven, made righteous in Christ and one with God, individual healing and the healing of our world begins.