TWO DIMENSIONS OF THE ATONEMENT, THE
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There are two dimensions of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ. The first dimension is that of the forgiveness of sin. The second dimension is that of deliverance from sin. To the present hour the emphasis has been on the first dimension, the second dimension not being understood. From this point forward the emphasis of the Christian salvation will be on deliverance from the sinful nature.
THE TWO DIMENSIONS OF THE ATONEMENT
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
The two dimensions of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus are seen in the above verse.
If we confess our sins, God “is faithful and righteous and will forgive our sins.”
Then it says, “and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We could interpret “purify us from all unrighteousness” to mean God will forgive all of our sins. But then the verse would be saying, “God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and forgive our sins.
So we might conclude that “purify us from all unrighteousness” means to cleanse us from our sinful nature. If this is the case, then the complete atonement set forth in I John 1:9 has not always been understood or utilized by the Christian churches.
It usually is a good idea when interpreting any verse of a given book of the Bible to see if our interpretation is in harmony with other passages of the same book. Does the Book of First John suggest we are to pursue deliverance as well as forgiveness?
I would say yes to this question. For example:
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know he appeared so he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 3:3-8)
Now think carefully about the above passage. Is it emphasizing the forgiveness of our sins or deliverance from our sins?
- Purifies himself.
- Take away our sins.
- No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.
- No one who continues to sin has known him.
- He who does what is right is righteous just as he is righteous.
- He who does what is sinful is of the devil.
- The Son of God appeared in order to destroy the devil’s work.
Would you agree that the above statements would confirm that “purify us from all unrighteousness” might mean cleanse the sinful nature from us?
In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
It appears obvious the Apostle Paul is not speaking here of forgiveness but of actual purification from the sinful nature.
The verses that precede II Corinthians 7:1 confirm this:
“Therefore come out from them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (II Corinthians 6:17)
I believe the reason there has not been more of an emphasis on the deliverance aspect of the atonement is that it was not God’s time.
Thinking in terms of the Jewish observances, the Day of Atonement, the time when God reconciled Himself to the nation of Israel, was next to the last in a series of seven observances, each of the observances symbolizing a step toward our full redemption. The Christian churches have been as far as Pentecost. Now we are facing the most solemn day of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement. God is ready to judge the behavior of His people before He judges the behavior of the people of the world.
But is the removal of the sinful nature actually a part of the atonement? We usually think of the atonement only in terms of forgiveness, don’t we?
On the Jewish Day of Atonement two goats were employed. One goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled upon and before the Lid of Atonement in the Holy of Holies.
The other goat, the scapegoat, was not slain. The sins of Israel were laid on its head, and then the goat was led away into the wilderness.
Even though the second goat was not slain, and its blood was not shed, it still was part of the atonement.
But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:10)
“To be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert.” Prior to this occurrence the high priest had laid both of his hands on the scapegoat and confessed the sins of Israel.
He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. (Leviticus 16:21)
We are not accustomed to the thought of an atonement being made by sending the sins away. We always think of forgiveness through the shedding of blood. But here it is in the Scriptures!
It’s a good thing, too; because if God only forgave our sins but did not deal with our sinful nature, our future would be bleak indeed. We might have a paradisiac environment to look forward to, but the people would still be self-seeking, divisive, scornful, unbelieving, slanderous, arrogant, stubborn, seeking their own glory, as church people are today.
Fortunately the atonement includes purification from our sin nature.
It seems to me, from my own experience, that when we confess our sins we are forgiven instantly. Then the Spirit of God begins the program of cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
God reconciled us to Himself by the blood of the cross. Now we are to enter the work of reconciliation by confessing our sins so God might remove our sinful nature from us.
We have always thought that as long as we are in the world we cannot be delivered from the power of sin. This is not scriptural. The Lord Jesus can deliver us from sin where we are, whether on earth, in Heaven, or anyplace else. His hand is not shortened that it cannot save. To really be saved from Satan is to be not only forgiven but also released from Satan’s power. How does that sound to you?
But how do we go about being released from slavery to sin.
Let us think of a specific sin. Let us say we have lied on a contract. We have not answered the questions accurately but have slanted the facts in our favor. This is done all the time in America, and people are being put in prison in these days for not telling the truth on contracts.\
We have lied. We can explain this away, saying “everyone is doing it”; or the bank expects us to lie”; or “no one will ever find out”; or “what we have put down in writing will be true a month from now when people pay us what they owe.”
We simply have been caught up in the American culture and do not realize a lie is a lie and the truth is the truth. A day in court will demonstrate the truth of this.
The Lake of Fire has authority over all liars. When we come to Christ we are granted a season of immunity from the authority of the Lake of Fire so we will have an opportunity to be purified from our willingness to lie. But if we neglect what is being offered today, if we do not confess our lying as sin when the Holy Spirit makes it known to us, then we—whether or not we profess Christ—are going to be thrown into the Lake of Fire, the eternal home of all liars, including Satan.
The New Testament tells us that if we do not bear the fruit of Christ’s moral image we are going to be cut from the Vine and thrown into the Fire. John the Baptist said much the same thing concerning God’s people.
When the lie is pointed out to us we are to confess to God that we have lied. Sometimes it is helpful to confess to other people. The point is, we must bring up that lie from the dark places of our personality and expose it to the light. It must be confessed with our mouth—not just thought about, but confessed!
Then we must denounce this lie. We must judge it as wicked, saying it belongs in the Lake of Fire. This is an act of judgment against Satan. We just judge the lie as wickedness, not to be permitted in God’s universe. It is evil, and we must name it as evil with all clarity and vigor.
Then we must renounce the lie, declaring never, never, never again will we permit this behavior to be present in our body.
This is an act of eternal judgment against Satan. The next time you are tempted to lie you will notice that the fire has gone out of it. It is dead. You will be able to tell the truth regardless of the consequences.
We now are in a period of moving forward in the plan of redemption. God is ready to judge the world, but He is beginning with His saints. It is written that the saints will bring the judgment of God upon the world, and even upon angels. But we cannot do this until we first have judged ourselves. Does this make sense to you?
The Christian world will never be the same again. It is God’s time to deal with the sinful behavior of His people. Those who are hearing the Lord will respond, and confess and turn away from their sins. Those who are wicked, or just too busy, will not be aware of what is taking place and will be punished for their lack of diligence in the things of the Lord.
Our great enemy in America is that of our opportunities. It is going to happen to us as it did to the people of the days of Noah, or of Sodom and Gomorrah. We will be planting, reaping, building, marrying, giving in marriage, buying, selling. These are not sinful in themselves. But according to the Lord Jesus, they constitute the danger we are facing.
We will not miss the day of our visitation because of adultery or murder; for most of us the problem will be that we have placed making a living in first place in our life and the seeking of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in second place.
(“The Two Dimensions of the Atonement”, 3857-1)