69 million page views

"Why can't God forgive sin without the need for a sacrifice?"

Reader comment on item: Pope Benedict XVI and the Koran
in response to reader comment: excluded

Submitted by Lactantius Jr (United Kingdom), May 20, 2009 at 12:14

To The Truth

Please keep in mind that I am a fallible human being and I am trying to answer to the best of my knowledge and ability, and in seeking to answer your questions, I attempt to do so from an understanding informed by Biblical Christianity, and in using the word "God," I refer to the God revealed in the Bible as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God revealed to us in three Persons, and there are things that this God can't do, and forgiving sins without the need for a sacrifice is one of them, so the question to ask is, "why won't God forgive sin without a sacrifice?" and this goes deeply to the very nature of God, what sort of God is He?

The Bible has much to say about the holiness of God, but God is not only holy and just, He is a most loving God and does not want anybody to perish.

The Bible contains two Covenants or Testaments, the 39 books of the 'Old Testament' being the record of God's dealings with His creation since He created human beings "in the beginning," the 27 books of the 'New Testament' being the record of His dealings with His creation since the coming of Jesus into the world, Jesus being God's self-expression or living word, and His solution to the problem of sin in all its expressions.

So why is a sacrifice needed? What is sin? Why do humans sin? Simply speaking, sin is rebellion against God, it is rebellion against the highest authority. It is an offence against God's holiness and right to institute all laws. It is saying that we know better what is right and wrong, and we disregard God's authority, it is disobedience, it is desperately destructive, and is profoundly offensive to the all-holy God revealed in the Bible, Who created our first parents Adam and Eve, with the ability to make choices, and God made it very clear, before Adam's first sin, that the consequence of sin is death, and that is repeated throughout the Bible, because of the sinful choice that Adam made,

"sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

Romans 5:12

The New testament of the Bible saying that,

"all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"

Romans 3:23

What sort of people would God need to have created, who would only ever do things His way, instead of their own way? People who could never sin, that's right, pre-programmed automatons or robots, robots without free will. What an awful world that would be, or try to imagine a world populated with free-will creatures like us, where God was continually and endlessly intervening to prevent and overrule the harm to themselves and to others, their sinfulness caused, what would such a world be like?

If the Jews of Jesus' time knew anything at all about sin, they knew it was an expensive business, with an endless annual cycle of animal sacrifices, the old covenant, instituted centuries before Jesus' coming, rested on a sea of blood, it being estimated that in the 1,000 years of the old covenant, one million animal sacrifices were made, and why? What does the Old Testament Scripture say?

"For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible."

Leviticus 17:11

But if animal sacrifices could take away sin, why did they have to be repeated again and again and again and…………..this is the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrificial system, and its inability to deal with sin, the New Testament of the Bible saying

"But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."

Hebrews 10:3

God will not dilute the seriousness of his commands by "just forgiving it without penalty" which would compromise His own holiness, then disobedience/rebellion or that much-misunderstood little word sin, has to find its punishment, and turning to the New Covenant of the Bible, to see why the Old Covenant was replaced,

"Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless. For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God……………….. There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, His priesthood lasts forever. Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

He is the kind of high priest we need because He is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honour in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when He offered Himself as the sacrifice for the people's sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed His Son with an oath, and His Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever."

Hebrews 7:18-28

The book of Isaiah in the Old Covenant was written around 800 years before Jesus came, and looking forward to His coming, we read about Jesus "The Suffering Servant," this is what we read,

"Has anyone believed us or seen the mighty power of the LORD in action? Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, the servant grew up obeying the LORD. He wasn't some handsome king. Nothing about the way He looked made Him attractive to us. He was hated and rejected; His life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at Him. We despised Him and said, "He is a nobody!" He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we thought His suffering was punishment from God. He was wounded and crushed because of our sins; by taking our punishment, He made us completely well. All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the LORD gave Him the punishment we deserved. He was painfully abused, but He did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off. He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to Him? His life was taken away because of the sinful things my people had done. He wasn't dishonest or violent, but He was buried in a tomb of cruel and rich people. The LORD decided His servant would suffer as a sacrifice to take away the sin and guilt of others. Now the servant will live to see His own descendants. He did everything the LORD had planned. By suffering, the servant will learn the true meaning of obeying the LORD. Although He is innocent, He will take the punishment for the sins of others, so that many of them will no longer be guilty. The LORD will reward Him with honour and power for sacrificing His life. Others thought He was a sinner, but He suffered for our sins and asked God to forgive us."

Isaiah 53

And so, the Old Covenant was replaced by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross, the New Testament saying that Jesus was,

"The lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world"

John 1:29

and of Whom the New Testament says,

"This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' "

1 Timothy 1:15

and save sinners He does, for He is,

"Able to save to the uttermost all those who come to God through Him."

Hebrews 7:25

Jesus saying of Himself,

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many."

Mark 10:45

and we need saving, because,

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:23

Thats Grace, God's Riches At Christ's Expense, we're not worth it, we don't deserve it, we can't earn it, do we want it? and the sure and certain assurance that if we accept what God has done for us in and through His Son Jesus, we can be confident that when we stand before Him on the day of judgement, we will be accepted because we accepted His solution to our sin problem, but if we refuse to accept God's "rescue plan" we will stand before Him as unforgiven sinners, and receive the just penalty due to us.

So, to recap, God created a perfect world and placed the first humans, Adam and Eve in it, telling them they could eat anything except the fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," warning them that if they ate it "you will surely die," and what happened? Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the "forbidden fruit," and death entered the world through this first sin, with Adam and Eve, and all humans since then dying.

Under the Old Covenant, the Jews of that time sacrificed animals, seeking to atone ("become reconciled to the God their sin had separated and alienated them from"), but this didn't cure the problem, the human problem being the problem of the human heart, the Old Testament saying,

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Jeremiah 17:9

So God instituted a new Covenant by sending His dearly loved Son Jesus, to be the sinners all-sufficient Saviour, by dying a hideous death by crucifixion, and as He said He would, He "did death to death" by rising to eternal life from the dead, that eternal life being promised to all who will trust Him to give it to them. So, the death that Adam, the first man, brought into the world, has been defeated by Jesus, who the New Testament of the Bible figuratively refers to as "the second or the last Adam," this second or last Adam bringing life to those who trust Him,

"The first man was named Adam, and the Scriptures tell us that he was a living person. But Jesus, who may be called the last Adam, is a life-giving spirit. We see that the one with a spiritual body did not come first. He came after the one who had a physical body. The first man was made from the dust of the earth, but the second man came from heaven. Everyone on earth has a body like the body of the one who was made from the dust of the earth. And everyone in heaven has a body like the body of the one who came from heaven. Just as we are like the one who was made out of earth, we will be like the one who came from heaven."

1 Corinthians 15:45-49

Acceptance of God's "rescue plan" is something we must decide before we die; picture a man who can't swim falling into deep water. The man will drown unless he accepts the lifebelt thrown to him. Now, picture us in this life, as the imaginary drowning man, and God Himself throws us a lifebelt with the word "Jesus" written on it, will we accept it, or say "no thank you, I don't want saving, I'll drown."

According to the Bible, God loves the world, and has done, and is doing, everything He can do to keep us out of Hell.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life."

John 3:16

"God is not willing that any should perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance"

2 Peter 3:9

and this salvation is available to everyone who accepts God's "rescue plan,"

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.' Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. For 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?"

Romans 10:9-14

So there it is, I've attempted to go 'fast forward' through the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, outlining our sin problem, and God's solution to it by sending His Son Jesus to die in our place, and in sacrificially doing so, He has "done death to death" for all those who personally accept His gift; and it's not just "pie in the sky when we die," it's steak on the plate whilst we wait," because Jesus told us His job-description, saying,

"I have come that you might have life, life in all its fullness."

John 10:28

"I give them eternal life and they will never perish, no one can snatch them out of my hands."

John 10:28

You're going to live forever "The Truth." Please choose your address.

"In the Scriptures God says, 'When the time came, I listened to you, and when you needed help, I came to save you.' That time has come. This is the day for you to be saved."

2 Corinthians 6:2

With all good wishes

Lactantius Jr


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to "Why can't God forgive sin without the need for a sacrifice?" by Lactantius Jr

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2022 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)