Christ Died in Our Place

Leon Cathey wrote:
> > Here be my problem. The penalty for our sin was not our death on the
> > cross, nor was it our temporary separation from God, i.e., a little
> > time in hell. I see Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins, something we
> > could not do nor are we expected to do, but not as one who stepped
> > into our place. I see Jesus as paying the penalty for sin by being the
> > perfect sacrifice for sin, something only Jesus could do.

I think there are several things involved in the sacrifice of Christ in
regard to the sacrifice for sin. One thing is found in Mt 18:24 regarding
the man who owed the king 10,000 talents. The parable likens the debt
owed the king to the debt our sins incur in relation to God. The parable
points out that while our debt/fine is enormous, it it finite. A second
thing is that if you are in prison, you can’t pay the debt because you
don’t have a job. Men who die and are in Hades do not have anything with
which to pay. Therefore, they can never get out. They are captives of
the Devil. Our debt of sin did not merit eternity in hell, but we had
nothing to pay it with. Merely suffering in torment did not pay the fine.
The fine became eternal because man had no means of restitution. He had
nothing with which to pay the fine. As the parable says, “And his lord
was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all
that was due unto him” (Mt 18:34). How fast do you reckon that guy paid
off a debt of $100,000,000 while he was being tormented?

From the day of Adam’s sin Adam and Eve and all their children were under
the curse of death: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen
3:19). Since Adam’s children’s bodies were cursed with death as a result
of Adam’s curse, no man had anything left with which to pay the wages of
sin–death (Rom 6:23). Merely dying did not pay the wages of individual
sin, for even innocent babies are under the curse of death by virtue of
being Adam’s child. Offering an innocent baby did not gain you anything
because the baby already owed death his body as a result of Adam’s curse.
The baby’s body was already in hock to death. By killing the baby, you
just paid the debt sooner. Any sins a man commits therefore incur a debt
that he has absolutely no means to pay. At his death man therefore
becomes a perpetual prisoner of the Devil because man has no means of
atoning for his sins. Man’s guilt is not infinite. A man in Hades simply
has no means to pay because he is already dead and therefore cannot die as
payment for his sin and can therefore never get out.

Jesus is a the answer to man’s dilemma. Jesus is the Creator of heaven
and earth (Jn 1:1-3). The Creator is greater than the things that He made
(Ro 9:20). A man’s life is worth more than all the world (Mk 8:36-37).
Since Jesus’ life was greater than the whole Creation, His giving that
life in His death was worth more than all debts incurred by that creation;
past, present or future.

If Jesus had been a son of Adam, even He could not have died for our sins.
That is how important the virgin birth is. Therefore God exempted Him
from the curse by making Jesus a Son of God, just like Adam was (Lk 3:38).
Since Jesus was not in hock to death as were the sons of Adam, Jesus’ life
was free from entangling encumbrances and was His to give, if He chose.

Jesus was not under the curse of Adam and was not subject to death as a
result of Adam’s curse. He likewise was not subject to death as a result
of His personal sin (Heb 4:15, Rom 6:23). When the Devil took Jesus, the
Devil commited an act of war on God. It was an unjustice and he stole
something from God to which the Devil had no right. Because the Devil
declared war on God, Jesus had the right to take spoil of the Devil, if He
was able.

Prior to the death of Christ, God could do nothing for the souls in prison
in Hades. They were the rightful property of the Devil because he had the
keys of death and Hades (Heb 2:14). Dead men rightfully belonged to the
Devil who had the power of death, because they were dead, and God could
not directly intevene. However, God had a plan to save man that He kept
secret from the foundation of the world (Mt 13:35), because if the Devil
had known what God’s plan was, he would never have killed the Lord of
Glory (I Cor 2:8).

When the Devil saw Jesus, he recognized Him for Who He was (Mk 1:24, 34).
He knew Jesus was without sin (Jn 8:46). However, Jesus was too tempting
a target. The Devil surmised that if he could kill Jesus, the Heir, the
world would be the Devil’s for ever (Mk 12:7). The Heir would be in the
Devil’s prison for ever and the Heir’s heritage would become the Devil’s
permanent possession. There was one slight problem with the Devil’s
calculation. He did not have any right to Jesus’ soul, and God was not
going to let Him keep it (Acts 2:26-27). Furthermore, when Jesus died,
the death of Christ paid the price for sin for every man (II Cor 5:14-15).
The Devil therefore no longer had any right to the soul of any man in
Hades. Jesus death paid the price for all of them because as the Creator
His life is worth more than all of His creation.

When Jesus descended into Hades the Devil had a problem. He had committed
an act of war against God, and the Devil had taken Diety captive into the
Devil’s realm where Deity had previously no right to enter by force.
Since Jesus’ soul was unjustly captive through an act of war, He could
resist the power of Hades by force and justly spoil the Devil of all that
He found there (Lk 11:22).

While He was in Hades, Jesus preached to the spirits that were in prison
(I Pet 3:19). The spirits there were given a chance to evaluate Jesus’
claims to divinity without the evidence of the resurrection. Their belief
would therefore have been walking by faith and not by sight since they
were not witnesses of the resurrection. Those who believed the evidence
and accepted Jesus’ claims went with Him when He left Hades (Eph 4:8).
One hundred and forty four thousand of them were permanently resurrected
(Rev 14:4) as evidence of Jesus’ everlasting power over sin and death by
virtue of His payment of our debt (Col 2:14) through His vicarious death.

Jesus not only took the souls of the righteous with Him when He left Hades
(Eph 4:8, Rev 6:9), He also obtained the keys of Death and Hades (Rev
1:18). He also took the title of the earth (Mt 5:5, Lk 19:17) the Devil
had obtained when Adam (Gen 1:26, 28) elected to serve the Devil (Rom
6:16). In this way Jesus spoiled the strong man (the Devil) in his house
(Hades) of his armor (death) in which he trusted (Lk 11:22).

Jesus actually paid our individual penalty for sin since the wages of sin
is death. We could not pay it because we really needed to die many times
in order to justly pay our debts. Jesus was not rightly subject to death
because He was not a son of Adam and He could therefore justly pay the
price for sin. Therefore by His vicarious stripes and death we are healed
(I Pet 2:24).

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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