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JUSTICE AND SUBSTITUTION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 18, 2010

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).


I go to a gym every day to swim for a half hour. There is a large television screen in the men’s locker room. The other day, as I was putting on my swimming trunks, I noticed a Bruce Willis movie playing on that TV screen. I stopped to look at it for a few minutes. It was the kind of movie that is so typical today – presenting a very dark view of life. The main characters were running through the midnight gloom of a city, darting in and out of the shadows like rats. That was unquestionably the impression. They were like rodents, darting in and out of holes, in the frighteningly dark streets and alleys of a modern city. The words of Dr. Carl F. H. Henry came to mind,

Savages are stirring the dust of a decadent civilization and already slink in the shadows of a disabled Church (Carl F. H. Henry, Ph.D., Twilight of a Great Civilization, Crossway Books, 1988, p. 17).

Two thoughts are brought together in Dr. Henry’s graphic picture of the modern world – first, that our people have become “savages,” and second, that the churches are “disabled” – not able to convert these “savages” to real Christianity. This, of course, is the terrible result of  “decisionism.”

My mind instinctively thought of this dark picture in terms of Bible prophecy, which tells us,

“…in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”
     (II Timothy 3:1-4).

And then we are told the reason – people become “savages” “in the last days” because they listen to “doctrines of devils…having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:1-2). The evil doctrines of Darwin, Marx and Freud have so poisoned Western culture and penetrated our thinking that men see themselves as animals – like rats running through the dark streets of a modern movie! The consciences of our people have become so “seared” by false teachings and cultural corruption that the idea of “sin” seems like a myth to them – a relic of Victorian times. The very idea of “sin” has been purged from modern thought, and no longer exists in the minds of our people.

When we speak of Christ forgiving our sins we are offering them something for which they feel no need! If a man’s conscience is so “seared” that he feels no guilt for his sin, then the message of forgiveness through Christ has no appeal whatsoever!

I wonder – is that your case tonight? Have you any guilt? Have you any pangs of conscience? Have you any feeling that you have offended a holy God? Have you any fear of retribution for your sin? Or have you already been turned over to reprobation, your “conscience seared with a hot iron”?

If you are not already a hopelessly calloused “savage” – if there is any spark of conscience left within you – if you have even a little fear of God, or the slightest tinge of horror at the prospect of dying in a state of sin, then I beg you to listen to my text tonight!

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

Two words stand out in the text – “sin” and “offering.” The “offering” up of Jesus on the Cross makes no sense unless He was crucified for a reason. And the Bible teaches that the reason He was offered on the Cross was to pay the penalty for sin.

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

Here, then, is the reason God offered Jesus on the Cross – because of sin.

I. First, sin deserves punishment.

The ideas of Darwin, Marx and Freud have all but stamped out the reality of sin from the minds of “modern” men. By taking away the concept of “sin” man has supposedly been liberated and set free. But the so-called “freedom” of modern thought has not set men free! Instead these “new” philosophies have made men think that they are merely educated animals. Living without the concepts of right and wrong, modern men have drifted into moral anarchy. Of course this is really nothing new. It is merely a repetition of what happened before the Great Flood when,

“God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

Again, today’s moral anarchy is only a repetition of what happened to the Hebrew people in the time of the Judges when,

“There was no king in Israel: every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

The rampant immorality before the Flood, and the moral relativism during the time of the Judges, and all other times of apostasy and immorality – including our own – have their roots in original sin.

God put Adam on probation, demanding only one thing from him – that he not eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God warned him,

“…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”
      (Genesis 2:17).

Adam sinned by eating that forbidden fruit. And in that same hour sin ruined him, and his soul died. But the tragedy did not end with Adam. The horrifying result of his sin brought ruin and death to all his descendants for,

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12).

Thus the whole human race became “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5).

The entire human race – every single person – is therefore born in sin and dead in sin. And, make no mistake on this, sin deserves punishment. In fact sin demands punishment. The voice of your own conscience, though it is defiled, still speaks, telling you that righteousness should be rewarded and sin should be punished. At times even the most degenerate heart knows this. Isn’t it true that you have sometimes thought, “If there is a God, I ought to be punished for my sin”? You realize you should be punished in those times, when your own conscience is stung by your evil thoughts and actions. In those times when your conscience is pricked, you know that sin deserves punishment.

But add to this the fact that God Himself has said that sin is “this abominable thing that I hate” (Jeremiah 44:4). Spurgeon said,

There is nothing more clear in Scripture than the truth that sin is in itself so detestable to God, that he must and will put forth all the vigour of his tremendous strength to crush it…Beware, ye who forget God in this matter, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you. Sin must be punished (C. H. Spurgeon, “Expiation,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1991 reprint, volume X, p. 171).

Today, we constantly hear that love is the only attribute of God. But this is only partly true – because God has other attributes as well – and one of them is justice. The Bible says,

“All his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Sin demands the perfect justice of God. Sin demands punishment. The Bible says,

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Sin must be punished!

Do you doubt the reality of God’s justice? Do you shun the thought that God punishes sin? Have you avoided every verse in the Bible that speaks of Hell-fire? Do you read the verses that please you, and reject the verses which speak of “the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone”? (Revelation 21:8). If you do you are hiding, as did Adam, from the God of justice – the God who demands that sin must be punished!

Unless you have become one of Dr. Henry’s “savages” that “slink in the shadows” – a gutter rat, running through the back alleys of a Bruce Willis city – unless you have lost all humanity, and live with a conscience devoid of all light – surely you know, in the depths of your soul, that sin must be punished. And, just as surely, you must know that you have sinned! And therefore, you must be punished for your sin! “Sin.” “Sin.” “Sin.” That is the first word we have noticed in the text.

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

But there is more in the text.

II. Second, God has provided a substitute for sinners.

We have established from the Bible that sin must be punished. The very justice of God demands it. Sin must be punished. Here we are in a predicament. We have sinned. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). And we must be punished for our sin. It is impossible for God to “let us off the hook” unless someone is punished for our sin – in our place – as our substitute. The justice of God demands it!  

It cannot be just anyone – because all human beings “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). For God to judge someone else in our place – as our substitute – that person would have to be sinless. Who among us, in the human race, is sinless? None! “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).

For even one sinner to be saved from His divine justice, God had to send His own sinless Son down from Heaven, for Jesus – the only begotten Son of God – was the only one,

“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth”
      (I Peter 2:22).

The perfect, sinless Son of God was sent down from Heaven to this earth to bear the brunt of human sin – and die in the place of corrupted, sinful men and women! Jesus Christ is the one and only person who could satisfy the justice of God, take the place of sinners, and pay for their Hell-deserving sin! This Jesus is the one of whom the prophet spoke,

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

Thou shalt make his soul – and His alone – an offering for sin,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus Christ, the last Adam, came to restore those who were ruined and made dead by the first Adam! The first Adam brought death and judgment to mankind. Jesus, the last Adam, died on the Cross to pay for the first Adam’s sin and ours. Jesus, the last Adam, rose from the grave to give life to the first Adam’s hopelessly sinful descendants. When you come to Jesus God’s justice is satisfied because,

“Christ…hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).

It was God Himself who sent His Son to suffer and die in our place.

Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

God the Father cannot refuse the Sacrifice that He Himself sent to the Cross! The full penalty for sin was paid when the dying Saviour cried out “It is finished” on that Cross! Jesus made such a satisfaction, such a payment, such a substitution for sin that He never needed to suffer again. It was finished on the Cross. God had made His “soul an offering for sin.”

Now I call on you to come to Jesus. I pray that you will take hold of Him. He is God’s sin-offering. Sinner, I plead with you, come to Jesus!

You say, “I am a great sinner.” Well, of course you are! That’s why Jesus came and suffered on the Cross – to save a sinner like you! No matter how far you have gone in sin, Jesus wants you! No matter how long you have failed Him, and pushed Him away, He calls to you again tonight. Plunge yourself into Christ’s embrace, and you are saved! Pray that a sinner here tonight will pay attention to what has been preached, fall into the arms of Jesus and be saved. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 53:3-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, What a Fountain!” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

JUSTICE AND SUBSTITUTION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

(II Timothy 3:1-4; I Timothy 4:1-2)

I.   First, sin deserves punishment, Genesis 6:5; Judges 21:25;
Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:5; Jeremiah 44:4;
Deuteronomy 32:4; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23;
Revelation 21:8.

II.  Second, God has provided a substitute for sinners, Isaiah 53:6;
Romans 3:23; I Peter 2:22; John 3:16; I Peter 3:18.