How do you undo a sin?
When you’ve gone too far, when you’ve crossed the line, how do you make things right again? How do you fix it?
The simple answer is this:
Sin requires a life. Your life. It’s not a bank account where one bad deed can be canceled out by a certain number of good deeds. Ezekiel tells us, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4), and Paul tells us, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). To sin is to forfeit our lives, and there’s no way to undo that. The penalty must be paid.
Thousands of years ago, in the nation of Israel, Israelites were expected to make regular trespass offerings (Leviticus 5:6) to seek forgiveness for their sins (verse 10). But, as the author of Hebrews would later observe, “In those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4).
The Israelites’ sacrifices were not enough to blot out the ultimate penalty for sin—but they did serve as an ever-present reminder that “according to the law almost all things are purified [cleansed] with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission [forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22). These constant sacrifices made it impossible to forget that sin requires a life. And the Israelites may not have known it, but those sacrifices were pointing toward another, far greater sacrifice:
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Bible tells us that Christ was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Before They ever created the human race, God the Father and Jesus Christ had a plan: They were going to build a family.
The first step was creating mankind in Their own image (Genesis 1:26) and equipping people with free will, which introduced a major hurdle. The freedom to choose means the freedom to make the wrong choice, which meant it was only a matter of time before sin entered the picture. Humans were going to disobey at some point. Someone was bound to choose sin over God’s way, and then what?
God’s refusal to allow sin into His family and His desire to make us part of that family seem at odds with each other. If there are no sinless humans, if the penalty for sin must be paid, how can God’s plan possibly reach fruition?
But the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice—and the reason it was planned “from the foundation of the world”—is that the penalty already has been paid on our behalf. We just have to be willing to accept the terms and conditions.
When He came to earth as a human being 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ did what no one has been able to do before or since: He lived a sinless life (1 John 3:5). He kept God’s law perfectly and set the standard for obedience—and then He died a gruesome, horrific death, offering Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. As They had planned from the beginning, God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
That’s worth expounding on. The blood of bulls and goats was never enough to pay for sin, but the blood of the sinless Son of God is.
Not that we automatically receive the benefits of that sacrifice. Christ’s death isn’t a blank check that allows us each to do as we please. On the contrary, accepting that sacrifice requires something of us. When some of the Jews in Jerusalem came to acknowledge their role in the death of Jesus, they cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter urged them to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38).
That template still applies to us today. When God shows us our sins, repentance requires us to acknowledge and admit our fault before Him, and then turn from those sins and seek forgiveness. Baptism is a formal commitment to give ourselves fully to God—a figurative death that signifies the end of living for ourselves and the beginning of living for God. It’s an acknowledgment that our ways aren’t working, that our lives are forfeit, and that we want God actively molding and shaping us into something better.
Paul writes, “As many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” adding, “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:3, 6). He continues the thought in another epistle: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [the faith of, King James Version] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Sin can’t be undone; it’s true. The penalty must be paid—but it has been paid, if we’re willing to accept it. The Son of God poured out His blood to pay the price of our sins, giving us the opportunity to live a new life in Him.
The festival of Passover—often written off as a strictly “Jewish” observance—was instituted by God thousands of years ago in the nation of Israel. It was to be observed every year as a memorial of the day God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:12-14), and at the core of that memorial was the annual sacrifice of the Passover lamb—a lamb “without blemish” (verse 5) offered by every household in Israel. During the very first Passover, the blood of that lamb was used to mark the dwellings of God’s people, protecting them from the final, devastating plague that would bring Egypt to its knees (verse 13).
But Passover was pointing to something far greater, and it wasn’t until Christ’s sacrifice that the bigger picture became clearer. He was the true Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and it was His spilled blood that was destined to protect and deliver us from our captivity to sin.
During His final Passover on this earth, Jesus instituted new symbols to drive home this meaning—wine, to represent His blood; unleavened bread, to represent His broken body; and foot washing, to emphasize the need for Christians to serve (Luke 22:19-20; John 13:14).
The most interesting part is that Jesus instituted these symbols at all—clearly, this new format for Passover was something He intended His followers to continue observing, or else He wouldn’t have told them, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). To this day, faithful Christians around the world do continue to keep the New Testament Passover, annually reflecting on the sacrifice that made it possible for all of us to be free of sin.
But Passover is only the beginning. It marks the start of God’s annual festivals—days that spell out the very plan of God, teaching us why we’re here and what God has in store for the entire human race.
Passover reminds us that we can be free of sin. But then what? Where do we go from there?
The plan of God only begins with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We’re going to spend the rest of this Journey discovering where it ends.