When Adam and Eve first sinned, the Lord made garments of skin to clothe them (Gen. 3:21). In this way, He demonstrated that the death of an animal and the shedding of its blood was the cost of covering or atoning for their sin.
Later in the book of Leviticus, the Lord taught the Israelites that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that they were to offer the blood on the altar to make atonement for their sins (v. 17:11). Without it, there was no forgiveness.
The thousands of sacrifices offered throughout Jewish history pointed to the final sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose blood would be shed for the forgiveness of sins once for all time. Jesus came into the world to die, and as He spent His last night with His disciples at the Last Supper, He told them that His blood would be shed to bring about salvation. To this day, we meet for the Lord’s Supper to remember His blood shed for us.
There are four words that describe the work of Christ’s blood in God’s plan of salvation:
Redemption. We were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the unblemished, spotless Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:18-19). To redeem means to purchase something back. We had been sold into bondage to sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve, but Christ bought us back for God with His own blood.
Reconciliation. It was the Father’s good pleasure to reconcile us through the blood of Christ’s death on the cross in order to present us before Him holy, blameless, and beyond reproach (Col. 1:22). To reconcile means to bring two people who are alienated back together again. In our case, it was sin that separated us from God. But when we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and in His sacrifice for us, we are brought back into a loving relationship with the Father.
Justification. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:8-9). To justify means to declare no longer guilty, and the only way this is accomplished by God is through Christ’s blood applied to those who believe in Him. If a person rejects Jesus, he will remain guilty of all his sin.
Sanctification. Jesus sanctified people through His own blood (Heb. 13:12). To sanctify means to set apart for God. When we believe in Christ for salvation, we are immediately sanctified. But even though it happens in a moment in time, it’s also a process whereby God continually sets us apart for Himself and transforms us into the likeness of His Son.
Christ’s blood keeps on cleansing us from sin.
Although we have been redeemed, reconciled, justified, and sanctified through Christ’s blood, we still have sin dwelling in us because of our humanness or sin nature. Even though it is no longer dominant, we still stumble now and then and are in need of fresh cleansing. This is part of our ongoing sanctification.
According to 1 John 1:7, “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The verb tense signifies the continuing process of cleansing that accompanies sanctification. We also have God’s promise in verse 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This promise restores intimacy with God. It is not an invitation to live in sin as we please, thinking all we have to do is confess before going to bed. That is not taking sin and the cost of Christ’s sacrifice seriously.
Have you ever taken your sin seriously, recognizing it for what it truly is? Be sure you’re not leaning on excuses or rationalizations to downplay your sin. It cost Jesus His life—and it will cost you yours if you are unwilling to accept His sacrifice.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Message of the Blood of Jesus,” which airs this weekend on TV.