“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
– Heb 7.25
Have you ever had to go to court? I have not. However, I just received my first call for jury duty after only six months of residency in Colorado. And in reflecting on my upcoming civic obligation, I have been meditating on my standing before God.
The court system is modeled after a Heavenly example. Most societies have a method of examining citizens and people within their country, determining guilt and innocence and declaring punishment against law-breaking. And the picture of judgment is prevalent throughout the entirety of Scripture. In the Old Testament, under the Law, God is on His throne and the priests functioned as intercessors for the people. They would come to God and make blood sacrifices to atone for their own sins and then offer sacrifices for the people, because God established the law that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb 9.22). And they had to pay for their sins before they could intercede for the people.
When Jesus came, He lived a sinless life and died the death that you and I deserve. His blood became the final and perfect sacrifice needed to atone for the sins of the world. Therefore, no one ever has to make blood sacrifices now, they need only accept the free gift of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. And Jesus, as God, raised from the dead after paying the penalty of death, and now lives to make intercession for us. He is the perfect priest because He does not have to make sacrifices for His own sin, and he paid the perfect price to finalize the sacrificial system.
The picture is this: God is on His throne. Satan, the accuser – or prosecutor, is in the Heavenly court making accusations against us (Rev 12.10). Jesus, our intercessor – or defense, stands always to say, “Yes, he did that, but the sentence has been served”. Jesus’ death on the cross does not make it as if you never sinned. Jesus’ death on the cross also does not make you not guilty. Jesus’ death on the cross counts your sins as punished.
And God is the judge. We do not need to be saved from Satan, he only is fighting against us in the Heavenly court. God’s wrath for sin is the terror from which we need saving. God’s sentence of “guilty” is damnation to Hell.
While we are still living on the Earth, we will all fall into sin. No one can maintain a sinless state. Scripture promises that we are set free from the bondage of sin, meaning that we are able to glorify God – we are able to choose to not sin – once we have been forgiven and saved (Rom 6.22). But we will sin. We do sin. And when we sin, we have a perfect advocate with the Father (1 John 2.1).
The only genuine and true response to this forgiveness is love and out of that love flows obedience. If we love Jesus and are thankful for the price He paid to redeem us, we will seek to not insult His honor. For every sin that we do is another lashing of the whip, another beating of the club, another nail in his hand. If we go on sinning, we again crucify Him and put Him to open shame (Heb 6.6). We cheapen His grace to wicked freedom. If that is your response to grace, then you have not received grace for “by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2.3). And, “for this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5.2).
And ultimately, in the end, Jesus is the one who will carry out the final sentence against all those who have not come to Him for forgiveness.
Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
– Rev 6.15-17
So Jesus paid the sentence we deserve. If we draw near to Him (Heb 7.25), and receive His forgiveness then we are atoned. We are welcomed. He stands before the judge every time you fall and says, “I paid for that”. And when He comes in His wrath to exact justice against sin at the end, we will be found justified, we will ride with Him into battle against sin, evil and darkness. Not because we are righteous, but because His righteousness covers us and we have become His righteousness (2 Cor 5.21).
There is no better defense. The prosecutor knows all the facts. He has all the evidence. He will prove you guilty. Do you want to hide yourself in Him who is willing to pay your punishment? And if so, when you understand the weight of penalty that has been covered, you cannot help but love. And obey. To honor Him and glorify Him, always!