Meeting the Oppression of Sin – Why Jesus Became Sin For Us
By John Thiel, mp3
Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
We can see that the work of salvation is nearly finished; and as we examine our own lives, we are in grave danger looking at our success, at our progress in Christian character, that we feel there is so much that is not right in my life yet.
As we approach the closing of probation, believers become progressively concerned. Why?
1 Timothy 5:24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some [men] they follow after.
If you are a believer, judgment commences now as we are living and sins in the judgment are opened before us.
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? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
There is much to meditate in reference to these two Scriptures. If judgment begins at the house of God, what will take place? Their sins are opened beforehand going before to judgment. So the people who are of the household of God are becoming very deeply conscious of their sins being opened up before them. If you are not part of the household of God, it says that judgment comes later on. It says that their sins will be opened afterwards.
What does this suggest in reference to your conscious experience? If you do not have your sins opened before you now and you don’t feel bad about your sins, you will have them opened up later on when it’s too late. God’s true people will have a consciousness of sin in their life and the oppressions of sin that need to be dealt with. Whereas the other ones are happy. They’re not worried about their sins because they haven’t got any, they don’t think. They will be opened to them later on.
As we approach the closing of probation, believers become progressively concerned about themselves.
“God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing. By His law He measures the character of every man. As the artist transfers to the canvas the features of the face, so the features of each individual character are transferred to the books of heaven. God has a perfect photograph of every man’s character, and this photograph He compares with His law. He reveals to man the defects that mar his life, and calls upon him to repent and turn from sin.” 5BC 1085.4
As you meditate on this, some men’s sins are opened beforehand going before into judgment because God is opening to them their secrets, their character defects. How do you feel when people do that to you? Reveal your sins and your character defects? Is that comfortable? God does not suggest a comfort in regards to discovering of our sins but He does offer us a comfort that we need to apply when our sins are oppressing us.
To be saved according to 1 Peter, if the righteous scarcely be saved, how will it be with those who do not obey the gospel?
Obeying the Gospel
There’s a very interesting Scripture. Obey the gospel. We often talk about obeying the Ten Commandments but here are a people who are to obey the gospel and there are a people who don’t obey the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ opens up our sins and calls upon us to examine our security in Jesus Christ. Our Scripture reading suggested that to us where Jesus is saying Behold, I stand at the door, and knock to the Laodicea people, the people of the judgment. Laodicea. He says I want to come into you and sup with you. This is because these people are in need of the gospel in their life.
We are living very close to the conclusion of our time of probation. After probation has closed, how more intense will God’s people feel the oppression of sin?
Jeremiah 30:5 For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day [is] great, so that none [is] like it: it [is] even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
Here is the experience of Jacob mentioned in his experience as he was travelling back to his land as God had told him to go back and Esau was coming for him with 400 men. He was in trouble. His past sin was oppressing him and he was pleading with God. That is the time of Jacob’s trouble which is here identified as applying to God’s people when probation has closed.
“The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. “Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:5-7. GC 616.1
Not a time of peace. We are coming closer and closer to the end. God’s people who are truly in tune with Him, are going into an experience of concern. It intensifies to the point of the time of Jacob’s trouble when there will be no peace at all for them and all faces gather paleness. We continue to meditate on this time of Jacob’s trouble.
“Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt in order to discourage him and break his hold upon God. Jacob was driven almost to despair;
This was Jacob’s trouble.
“but he knew that without help from heaven he must perish. He had sincerely repented of his great sin, and he appealed to the mercy of God. He would not be turned from his purpose, but held fast the Angel and urged his petition with earnest, agonizing cries until he prevailed.” GC 618.1
That was Jacob’s experience and it had to do with despair because of his past sin.
“As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost.
Satan was permitted to do it against Jacob. He is permitted to do it upon God’s people after probation.
“Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God.” GC 618.3
Have you already felt some of these temptations of Satan where he comes along and says to you, your case is hopeless? And you wonder whether you are ever going to make it. I meet constantly this question as I mingle with the people and we talk and they are battling with their own conscience, with the sense of their failures of the past, can I really have hope here? As we go on and on into the point where probation will close we will meet that more intensely even then, because Satan is permitted to that to us. To survive the ordeal is what we want to gain here during this divine service.
“The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger–a faith that will not faint though severely tried.
A faith of Jesus. A faith that will bear and conquer as we were reading and we will summarise that again in our Scripture reading at the end.
“The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time.
Our probation is given us, and probation is soon to close. What we are doing now as God reveals to us our sins, if we meet that in the time of probation, we will then be able to persevere at the end. The time of probation is granted to prepare us for that time.
“Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God–how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God.” GC 621.2
What is happening to God’s people? The intensifying realization of their sins that need to be repented of, they need to keep on trusting that God in the gospel is going to purify them. As they deal with these waves of despair which no language can express, we are to prepare now for the worsening waves that will come over us after the close of probation. To cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God. This is our preparation now, to be able to do it then.
The message that must be firmly ours in this time, while probation still is available to us, is to develop a relationship in the atonement of Jesus and with Jesus that is going to see us through. I very carefully phrased that. Our atonement with Jesus. Obeying the gospel, as we read. There are people that are not obeying the gospel, they are not doing this. Therefore, they will not survive. When their sins are opened at the end it’s all too late.
What is it in the gospel which we need to exercise every time these waves of despair; Satan tempting us to give up because of our sins that are laid open before us? What is it that is going to give me the victory over these oppressive, increasing sensations that come to us? Here is a very important focal point for us at this time.
2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
We who are sinners, God, it has come from Him, to sinners like you and me, that He has reconciled Himself to us through Jesus Christ. So that when these overwhelming senses of my weakness and sinfulness want to sweep over me in despair, I have been given the ministry of reconciliation of Jesus Christ.
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.
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself so that when these sins that are revealed to me want to oppress me with Satan’s temptations on top of that, your case is hopeless, we remember that He does not impute our trespasses unto us, but is wanting us to be reconciled, as our sins are opened before us.
Jesus Was Made to Be Sin for Us
2 Corinthians 5:21 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.
This is the most important element that we need to meet the experience with. This Scripture is poorly understood in my experience in Christendom. In fact, one minister even said this is the most difficult Scripture to explain. It says that God made Jesus to be sin for us although He had not known sin. What for? So that when I in my sin and despair, my weakness and my unreconciled condition, and my sense of unworthiness; as this comes up before me, I might be made by this knowledge, be made the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at this story as we try to comprehend this Scripture so that while we have this experience that is thickening upon us to the very close of probation and thereafter, we may be able to meet it.
“God has given in His word decisive evidence that He will punish the transgressors of His law. Those who flatter themselves that He is too merciful to execute justice upon the sinner, have only to look to the cross of Calvary. The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that “the wages of sin is death,” that every violation of God’s law must receive its just retribution. Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father’s face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin. And every soul that refuses to become a partaker of the atonement provided at such a cost must bear in his own person the guilt and punishment of transgression.” GC 539.3
Can you appreciate what it means when it says they obeyed not the gospel? When my sin, weakness and shortcomings are revealed to me, the reality is that those sins must receive a just punishment. We know within ourselves, I have no hope. My sins are of such a dimension according to God’s word, that we are condemned and must receive justice. The death of Jesus demonstrates that. When He was made to be sin for us, He died the death that I must die. That atonement, that Jesus became at one with our sin so that I might become at one with Him; 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 atonement is the experience of exchange. If I will obey the atonement and the gospel, then sinful as my life appears to me, I am regarded as though I had never sinned because Jesus had never sinned. He took my sins and died with that. He was made to be sin for me.
I must open my heart to this. Notice the experience that Jesus made which is the experience of a person overwhelmed with his own sin.
“Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law.
He was counted as a transgressor like I. That is what is written in Isaiah. He was made to be sin.
“The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation.
As God’s people have their sins revealed to them, can you see wave after wave of despair that comes upon them? Then Satan is permitted to stir this up inside of them. That is the consternation that Jesus felt.
“All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.” DA 753.1
Jesus was made to be sin. When I am overwhelmed with my sin, I can see Jesus overwhelmed with that.
“Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal.
How do we feel about our sins when they come up before us? Despair, wave after wave. Jesus met that for every one of us.
It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” DA 753.2
What did He do? He drank a cup so bitter. I want to sup with you. To the Laodiceans, the people of God’s judgment, as judgment reveals to them their sins, Jesus says will you let me in? Will you let me sup with you the bitter cup that I have supped already? But you need to take hold of the atonement when this despair wants to overcome you, as it overcame me.
Jesus was made to be sin so that we can, when my sin is threatening to destroy my life, all faces gather paleness; there is no hope, learn now as it intensifies, to come into the intensity of Christ’s suffering and the intensity of His redeeming power.
What was the consciousness of Christ’s separation from the Father? What was He conscious of? It says He was counted as a transgressor, His heart was filled with the sense of guilt. But what guilt is it, whose is it? It’s the guilt that you and I continually will feel about my sin. As my sins plague me, my sorrow and agony and despair plague me, it is mirrored in Him. As it is mirrored in Him, your and my sin, have a look at another statement which really throws light upon this experience that Jesus was having so that we can see the intensity of His more intensely than mine.
“In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ suffered in man’s stead, and the human nature of the Son of God staggered under the terrible horror of the guilt of sin, until from His pale and quivering lips was forced the agonizing cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:”
Pale, all faces gather paleness. Can you see Jesus pale, crying if it be possible can this pass from me? I don’t want to go through with this, but not my will but thine be done.
“but if there is no other way by which the salvation of fallen man may be accomplished, then “not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Human nature would then and there have died under the horror of the sense of sin, had not an angel from heaven strengthened Him to bear the agony.” 5BC 1103.1
An angel had to help Him to bear it. Isn’t it wonderful that the angels will help us too? Can you see the atonement of Jesus? We need to see and appreciate it because when those waves of despair, which I have heard people telling me again and again it’s just too much, I’m too bad; this is the obedience of the gospel.
“The power that inflicted retributive justice upon man’s substitute and surety, was the power that sustained and upheld the suffering One under the tremendous weight of wrath that would have fallen upon a sinful world. Christ was suffering the death that was pronounced upon the transgressors of God’s law.” 5BC 1103.2
You think you are suffering when you feel the oppression of the sins revealed, when you feel Satan’s temptation to think this is too much, I can’t achieve it? Jesus suffered yours and everybody else’s as well. The love of the Father that is here suggested to us;
And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 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.
This is the love of God that when we meet these horrible experiences of our sins laid out and opened before us, remember it’s only those who are believers, the church of God, judgment commences with them. How will it be later on with those that are not obeying the gospel?
This is an amazing story of revelation, to give us the most profound hope in this time of oppression that leads up to the time of Jacob’s trouble when probation closes. We are now to learn to put these pictures that we are describing in God’s word into action within ourselves. If we don’t do it now it will be too late then. Now is the time to prepare.
Does the love of the Father fail here when Jesus is there and He is totally oppressed with everybody’s sin? Like I am oppressed with mine but even worse for Him; did Jesus believe that the Father’s love can still penetrate this problem?
Can you see here something? Can I believe that when I am separated because of my sin from my heavenly Father that Jesus was there with exactly the same and even worse? To go through an experience like that and find hope and exercise faith that God is still loving me in spite of all these sins? And He still wants to save me? Look at the experience of Jesus there. What was behind those words when Jesus gave up the ghost? As Jesus was hanging on the cross, Gethsemane was behind Him, the cry of My God, why hast thou forsaken me? has just been made.
The Faith of Jesus
“Suddenly the gloom lifted from the cross, and in clear, trumpetlike tones, that seemed to resound throughout creation, Jesus cried, “It is finished.” “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” A light encircled the cross, and the face of the Saviour shone with a glory like the sun. He then bowed His head upon His breast, and died.” DA 756.2
What happened? Why did Jesus’ face shine like the sun? Why was a light encircling the cross? Here is the answer.
“Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor.” DA 756.3
This is the method by which we can rejoice in victory. The love of the Father is demonstrated immediately after the wrath of the Father was poured upon His Son. God hates the sin but He loves the sinner. He loves His own Son who felt the transgression of the whole human race. He was counted as one of them, and as the Father was withholding His glory from Him, the Son said why have you forsaken me? This is too much, I can’t bear it.
How many times do we feel like that? But what was it that gave Jesus the victory out of that? It’s called the faith of Jesus. It’s what is written in reference to the company of God; here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
They are people who are happy to obey God’s commandments, but their sins are ever before them. As their sins are before them, they exercise what I have just studied with you here. The faith that Jesus exercised. His face shone. Having just been overwhelmed with the guilt of every man’s sin and the guilt of my sin that I am overwhelmed with, with wave after wave of despair that I am experiencing, Jesus felt. God had given Satan the right to really give Jesus a hard time just like He permits the people in the time of Jacob’s trouble, but having learned from Jesus the faith of Jesus, they can conquer as Jesus conquered.
Can you believe that God is with you too when you are overwhelmed with your sinfulness as He was with Jesus? If we can believe that as Jesus believed, we will survive, we will conquer.
To take God’s love seriously is necessary. To take the gospel of Jesus Christ and obey in seriousness, we can survive the agony of our sinful convictions and the despair of the time of Jacob’s trouble, but we must learn it now. If I haven’t learned it now, it will be impossible to have it dealt with later; it’s now, then we can survive then.
“All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin.
There is no other way but following the atonement of Jesus there.
“And every soul that refuses to become a partaker of the atonement provided at such a cost must bear in his own person the guilt and punishment of transgression.” GC 539.3
If I refuse to enter into meditation of this atonement and the atonement that Jesus came and supped with me, if I don’t let that come into my being, then I am going to be alone in the time of Jacob’s trouble. There won’t be any comfort, none at all. He won’t have Jesus there. But if we will partake with Jesus in the atonement, Jesus is there.
It’s a very lonely experience without Jesus. Today He invites you and me, the Laodicean people, the people of the judgment who say we are rich and increased and have need of nothing. The people who don’t want to have their sins revealed to them, Jesus is saying:
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
What was the bitter cup that He supped? My sins. If I do not obey the atonement experience, I will not open my heart to that. I will not gain the victory. But if I will open the door to Christ’s suffering with me in my sin, as it intensifies in my sense and all faces gather paleness, as Jesus’ face gathered paleness too. As I permit this to take hold of me and sup with Jesus in the atonement, I will conquer.
Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Can you see Jesus’ final appeal to the Laodicean people? Do you have an ear? Do you hear what I am saying? I want to sup with you with your oppression. Will you sup with me in my oppression with you? And then will you sup with me in the faith that I exercised to break out of this darkness, to let the face shine with joy, so that you can have the joy of salvation as Satan wants to oppress you and oppress me with all my sin?
It’s an amazing story! It is the most essential thing to remind ourselves constantly, because we forget so easily; this importance of the atonement that is going to break through the darkness, that Jesus had to break through. Faith in the Father, because He is a God of mercy, while He is a God of justice as well.
The punishment of the sin was Christ’s. He experienced the punishment. If I will go through with Him through the experience of the punishment that He gained and broke through that in faith we will be overcomers as He was an overcomer.
May God help us to remember this that we will be obedient to the gospel, that we will be partakers of the atonement that Jesus made with us. May God grant this to us is my prayer.