The Consequences of His Death
Over the past few months, we have been thinking about blessings attributed in Scripture to Christ’s death into which we came when we trusted Him. Much more could be written on this, but we will move on, to take a (very cursory) look at some Scriptures that mention consequences of His death that are ongoing – ways in which it makes a practical difference in every day of our lives as believers.
Two verses in Galatians highlight how the death of Christ has brought believers into an entirely new relationship in a way that is intensely practical. Chapter 1:4 shows how we relate to this evil age: “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” We were once part of this present evil world’s system, which is contrary to God, but the Lord Jesus gave Himself to deliver us from it. This could be viewed as historical, in that we were delivered at the moment we trusted Him; and also as future, in that, when we go to be with Him, we will be delivered from it forever. Yet, while both these are true, surely the force of Paul’s statement is that it is something we know the results of in the present. When we look around and see multitudes in bondage to this present age, it fills our hearts with thankfulness as we enjoy deliverance from it.
That is the negative side – that with which we are no longer associated – but in chapter 2:20, Paul shows that it is also highly positive. He writes, “I am crucified with Christ,” showing his identification with Him in His death. Yet, as in the previous reference, this is no mere theological abstraction, but has a practical bearing on life: “Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” The fact that the Son of God had given Himself for him meant that, from day to day, Paul’s life was lived by faith in Him. So it should be for us all.
Before leaving Galatians, we note a reference that shows that Christ’s death changes how we value things: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (6:14). From a human perspective, Paul had much in which to glory, but the cross of Christ changed all that. Now, the fact that he belonged to the One who died upon the cross was his only ground for boasting. May we similarly never forget that we have nothing of ourselves of which to be proud. Let us follow the instruction that Paul gives: “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1Cor 1:31; 2Cor 10:17).
Before we were saved, we lived for many things – self, sin, Satan, and more, but certainly not for God. It is not so now, and it is Christ’s death that has changed all that. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14). The word “serve” here is not the word for serving as a bondslave or as a deacon (though both are also true of us), but is the word often used in the New Testament for divine service; indeed, it is sometimes translated “worship.” What a dignity is ours – the purging of our conscience by the blood of Christ allows us to function in the dignity of service for Him.
This leads us to another reference from Hebrews: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (10:19). On the basis of the blood shed by the Lord Jesus, we have the freedom that believers under the Law never enjoyed in the tabernacle – to come into the very presence of God. Once again, this is not mere theory, but a present reality that we experience – to be able to approach Him, in worship and prayer, all because of the “new and living way” that has been opened up for us by the death of Christ.
The people of this world have their goals, and so do we. And, because of Christ’s death, those have been changed. In Philippians 3, Paul writes of what was important to him in his unconverted days, and then shows dramatically how all that was transformed, indicating his new ambition: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (v10). This, again, may sound abstract, but it has many practical implications, one of which Paul mentions in Titus 2:13-14: “the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Do we have a burning zeal to do good? We ought to, for that is one of the reasons He gave Himself for us.
Christ’s death makes a big change in how we view other people, and not least is our fellow-believers whom the Scriptures frequently say we are to love. The best example to follow is Christ, in His self-sacrificing death: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Eph 5:2). As we show an attitude of love to others, we are following Christ’s example, and are demonstrating the fact that His death has changed our lives.
These are just some of the ways in which Christ’s death affects us in the present, on a daily basis. It also has huge implications for our future. We will discuss that next month, in the will of the Lord.