Sending Away our Sins
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”- Isaiah 1:18
Specialized vocabulary is often used in theology in order to make sure that we are accurately presenting all that the Bible teaches. This is particularly true when we are discussing justification. Terms such as imputation, analytic justification, synthetic justification, instrumental cause, and so forth help us understand Scripture as well as the difference between Roman Catholics and Protestants on justification.
The technical theological terms we use to describe justification, however, should not make us lose sight of the fact that the doctrine of justification is also good practical theology. Sound systematic theology is always quality practical theology, as many positive, rubber-meets-the-road benefits result from an accurate view of Christian doctrine.
John Calvin once said that the remission of sins was the heart of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The word remission includes both the term mission and the prefix re-. Looking at the meaning of these components can help us see the practicality of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Our English word mission comes from the Latin term missio, which means “to send.” The prefix re- means “away” or “again.” When we refer to the remission of sins, we are speaking of God sending our sins away. In other words, the doctrine of justification by faith alone addresses the very real problem of our guilt.
In justification, God declares us righteous based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. And because Jesus met His Father’s demands for His people, the justice of God has been fully satisfied and He can forgive us our sins without compromising His righteousness. He sends our sins away from us, granting us peace with Him because He has answered the problem of our guilt.
Today’s passage expresses the hope of old covenant believers that God would deal fully and finally with sin. They looked forward to the day when atonement would be offered, an atonement to cover even the vilest of sins. This hope was finally fulfilled when Jesus bore the sins of His people on the cross. The wrath of God was poured out on the Son so that we who are in Him never need face the eternal penalty for our guilt.
In Christ, our guilt has been dealt with. When we trust in Jesus alone, we are forgiven of our sins. They are sent out of God’s sight, not in that He pretends they never happened but in that they are covered by the righteousness of Jesus. If you are in Christ, you never need to worry that God will make you pay the eternal penalty of hell for your sins. You have peace with Him, peace that fuels service in His name.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 1:4–8