In the last post, I said, “so that” are two words that matter immensely.
The Biblical writers use, “so that” very often. It’s a phrase that helps us transition to the application of the words they have just given us.
If we truly grasp the meaning of what they have been telling us, there is a much greater likelihood that we will be able to successfully apply those words to our lives. And sadly, if we miss their intended meaning, our application will be off course as well.
Here’s the text we used last time and will finish with today:
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, SO THAT we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25, emphasis mine)
Peter (and Isaiah before him) is trying to clearly show us WHY Jesus died in the way that He died.
He died to save us from sin. It is very obvious from the text. Right?
But did you note how Peter shifted from “sins” that Christ bore for us, to us dying to “sin” as a result?
Peter is not just pointing out that Christ died to forgive the guilt of our sin. Jesus certainly has done that, glory to His great name! But in this passage Peter is referring to “sin” as something that rules us and that has made us its slave. Sin is something that continually leads us astray like lost sheep.
Have you ever noticed this about sin? It’s not just the bad stuff you sometimes do. It’s something that lives down inside of you as a rebellious nature. Many who are reading these words are secretly (or openly) struggling with deeply sinful attitudes and addictions. You know what you keep doing is sinful and wrong. You may even confess these sins to God. But somehow, you keep going back to those sins, like a sow returning to her mud.
Have you had a glimpse of the “so that” of Peter in this passage?
“So that you might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed….of your continual straying like a sheep…”
Picture this: Christ is being brutally and slowly murdered through a tortuous process. They have already shredded his back with several dozen lashings of a cat of nine tails. The whip had fragments of glass and bone weaved into its many “tails”. His back would have looked like hamburger, only the blood would still be in the meat.
Yes, it is gross.
If that weren’t enough, then they actually took giant nails/spikes, and impaled his hands and feet to a large, roughly hewn cross. Then they raised it up into the air and stuck its bottom in a hole.
To breath, Jesus would have to push down on his feet to lift up his torso. But that would cause the sinews and bones that were already ulcerated and mashed to send involuntary spasms of pain up into the rest of His body. Without even thinking His lower body would suddenly go limp to try to escape the pain. Then the flesh and bones in his lower forearms and hands would repeat the process, except that He would likely find His head reacting to the pain and jerking back. This would have caused the large thorns that were woven into a crown to pierce His skull again and again.
And this He had to agonizingly endure…moment by moment…for hours.
I know you’ve seen this depicted in pictures and movies. The Passion of the Christ probably depicted the crucifixion with more accuracy than all the movies before it.
Why did He go through the cross? Why did He allow His back to be ripped to shreds and his hands, feet, and sides to be riven through? Someone might say, “He did it because He loves us.” Yes, indeed, and who can fathom such a love? But this is not what Peter is directly communicating. He does not say, “so that we could all see that He loves us.” Other passages of Scripture do say exactly that. But Peter is looking directly into the wounds of Jesus and telling us something in addition to this.
Peter (and Isaiah before him) wants us to know that Christ died a particularly gruesome death…SO THAT…we might be set free from the selfish, rebellious, jealous, and lustful lives that we have all been slaves to.
He died in this way SO THAT we might allow Him to heal our straying and backsliding hearts, SO THAT we would no longer be slaves to sin, but could actually live as a demonstration of His sin-destroying glory and righteousness even today.
To displace the seductive power of sin in your life, you must lift up a more compelling image of righteousness. The lying promise that temptation offers you can be cast down with the glorious demonstration of sin’s demise at Calvary!
The next time you are tempted to be jealous of someone else’s advantages, immediately look to the wounds of Christ and his suffering on the cross. Bring those images to mind. The next time you see that person who is seductively dressed, instead of passively following your imagination into sin, immediately fight that temptation by intentionally sending your imagination to the Tree of Calvary. Take a moment and consider the blood, the wounds, the agony, and the love.
You will find through this discipline that sin’s grip can be tangibly broken and the straying of your heart be increasingly healed!