Christ's Perfect Obedience
Christ's substitutionary death on the cross stands at the heart of all other salvation truths revealed in the Bible. He took our place in suffering the penalty for sin. The demands of the law against the transgressor were fully satisfied by His voluntary acceptance of our punishment. To distort this great central fact about the plan of salvation would weaken the entire foundation of Christianity. It is this tremendous Bible truth concerning the imputed merits of Christ's atoning death that lends assurance to every born-again believer.
It has always been Satan's purpose to obscure the simplicity of the cross in its application to our sin problem. In various ages of history, he has raised confusing questions about the nature of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Early Christian records reveal that certain groups did not believe in the full deity of our Lord. The Arians, for example, taught that Jesus was only a created being. Another school of theology believed that Christ's death was only an appearance that did not constitute a real cutting off by death. Many conflicting theories have raised questions about the ethics of the atonement. How could He assume our guilt and accept our punishment in such a way that we can be declared righteous and uncondemned?
The Bible teaches that Christ was "manifest in the flesh" in orderto accomplish certain things for the redemption of the human race. First of all, He would have to live a life of perfect obedience to redeem man's failure. Secondly, He would need to assume man's guilt for breaking the law and suffer the penalty of death demanded by the law. Those two things—His atoning death and perfect obedience—could then be credited to all who would accept Jesus as their divine substitute. Through faith, the sinner could be counted as having paid the penalty of death and of living a life of perfect obedience. That experience, called justification by faith, is the center of all Protestant teaching about salvation. According to this beautiful Bible doctrine, the repentant sinner now stands before God as though he himself has satisfied the penalty. At the same time, his past record of failure and disobedience is covered by the imputed merits of Christ's perfect obedience, so that he can be counted as justified—as though he had never sinned.
Any teaching that takes away from the effectiveness of this marvelous transaction must be considered a most dangerous heresy. Any doctrine that would make it impossible for Christ to live a perfect life in the flesh, or to die as a substitute for man, must be considered an enemy of righteousness.
I'd like to suggest that millions of Christians today have unwittingly accepted a theological position that does this very thing. Most of those who are deceived on this matter actually believe that they are honoring Christ by holding their view.
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