Saturday, March 23, 2013

Passover Symbols: What Part of the Sacrifice of Christ Makes Possible the Healing of Our Character? / Should You Partake of the Passover?

When we sin, we incur two penalties. We incur the death penalty, that is, the penalty of the second death in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23, Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 14-15, 21:8). But we also incur damage to our character which produces suffering. Sin changes us, for the worse. Sin produces a tendency to sin more, the habit of sin. It corrupts our minds. We learn the habit of sin until it becomes our nature. And sin and the tendency to sin produce suffering. Obedience to God's law results in happiness, but sin, the violation of God's law (1 John 3:4), results in suffering.

Christ's sacrifice removes both penalties of sin for those who repent and believe the gospel and are baptized.

We know that the death and shed blood of Christ, symbolized by the Passover wine, pay the penalty of our sins so we do not have to suffer eternal death in the lake of fire and cease to exist forever. There is no resurrection from that death. We also know that the suffering He endured in His body prior to death, including the scourging he received, symbolized by the broken unleavened bread we take at Passover that represents Christ's broken body, pays the penalty for broken physical laws that cause sickness and injury so God can heal us of our diseases and injuries (Isaiah 53:5-6) and relieve us of the suffering our sicknesses and ailments cause.

Much suffering in this world is caused by physical sickness, injuries, and disabilities due to the breaking of the physical laws of health. But there is also much mental suffering caused by sin, by vanity, jealousy, contention, resentment, hostile competition, unfaithfulness, lying and deception, broken promises, lust, selfishness, hatred, rage, violence, etc. People become frustrated, depressed, discouraged, and miserable because of their sins and the sins of those around them. Sin robs the human race of the joy and happiness we could all have if everyone obeyed God's spiritual law of love, which joy and happiness God intends for us.

The problem of the unhappiness and suffering produced by sin goes much beyond the problems of sickness and injury caused by breaking the physical laws of health.

Sin produces suffering. Obedience to God's law of love produces happiness. Suffering, both physical AND MENTAL, is one of the penalties of sin. All suffering in this world is the result of broken law. The violation of God's laws, whether physical or spiritual, causes all the suffering we see around us, whether that suffering be due to sickness and disease or any other kind of suffering.

If God only healed our physical bodies, but did not heal our character, we would not be physically sick but we would still bring misery upon ourselves and others by our sinful, carnal nature and character. We would still not get along with each other. We would still have wars, contentions, resentment, bitterness, and conflict of every sort.

If God removed the death penalty and allowed us to live forever, but did not heal our character of the damage caused by sin and did not remove the tendency to sin, the habit of sin in our minds and character, our sinful, carnal nature, we would live forever, but in misery and frustration, continuing our sinful way of life for eternity, like Satan.

It is God's purpose not just to give us eternal life but to give us eternal life with joy and happiness. But our sins have brought upon us the penalty that our minds have become twisted and sin has become a habit of mind. Our character has become damaged by our sins.

So God must remove the spiritual penalty for our sins that causes suffering.

The suffering that Christ endured pays all penalties of our sins that cause suffering.

Christ's suffering pays the penalty for our violations of the physical laws of health that produce the suffering of sickness, injury, and all diseases and disabilities. But His suffering also pays the penalty of all suffering that results from sin, any kind of sin, any kind of suffering, including any mental or physical suffering that results from spiritual sin, that is, the sin of violating God's spiritual law of love, as summarized by the two great commandments (Matthew 22:34-40), the three weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23), and the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).

And just as Christ's suffering makes possible the healing of our physical bodies damaged by violations of physical laws of health, so His suffering also makes it possible for our character to be healed of the damage produce by sin. God is able to remove from us the tendency and habit of sin that causes suffering for ourselves and those around us.

This process of spiritual healing begins in this life when God works with us, and then in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that heals our character spiritually by giving us the power to overcome our carnal nature. Spiritual healing is completed when we are resurrected as full sons of God and receive immortality in the Kingdom of God.

The gift of the Holy Spirit, which heals our character, is made possible by the sacrifice of Christ.

Just as we give God thanks for the sacrifice of Christ that enables our physical bodies to be healed, so we should be thankful that His sacrifice enables our character to be healed by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Should You Partake of the Passover?

Around Passover time there are often some who, after examining themselves, feel they are unworthy to keep the Passover.

But observing the Passover is not about us being worthy. None of us are worthy in that sense. Rather, we are to keep the Passover in a worthy MANNER.

"Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

Paul is talking about the manner or way in which we keep the Passover, not whether or not we should keep it. It is understood in this passage that we are to observe Passover. We are to keep it with a deep awareness of its meaning. We are to examine ourselves first. And then we are to observe the Passover. Paul did not say, "examine yourself, and if you are worthy, observe the Passover, but if you are not worthy, do not observe it." He says, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

Why examine ourselves? When we examine ourselves, we see where we fall short and why we need the sacrifice of Christ to pay for our sins. We should be inspired with humility and gratitude. We should also have faith in the sacrifice of Christ to pay for all our sins so we can be forgiven. We should be inspired to respond to God's love by being a living sacrifice, to do God's will and strive to overcome our sins (Romans 12:1-2). All of this is part of keeping the Passover in a worthy manner.

If you have repented, have faith in God and Christ, and have been baptized, examine yourself, and keep the Passover. Renew your baptism commitment to God.

For a related post, see "Physical and Spiritual Healing", April 2, 2012, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Passover -- the Sacrifice of Christ, Chapter 2

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