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Why Would A Perfect Man Die?

Why Would A Perfect Man Die?
By Patie Kwik.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
Obviously, this is one of the most well known passages of scripture in all of God's Word. It shows us two great contrasts about our sin and our salvation. The first contrast is between a wage and a gift. Our sin earns us a wage but God gives us a gift. The second contrast is between death and eternal life. The wage that our sin earns us is death but the free gift that God gives us is eternal life.
Beyond these simple and wonderful truths about our salvation, there is another principle which this verse clearly teaches. That principle is that sin brings death. Therefore it would seem logical to conclude that only those who sin will die. This is clearly the case. All have sinned and therefore all die. (See Romans 5:12) However there was one man who never sinned and yet he died. How can this be? Why would a sinless man receive the wages of sin? Why would a perfect man die?
A Perfect Man
In the Bible we read of a man who walked and talked on this Earth in the form of sinful flesh and yet was without sin. That man was Jesus Christ. There is perhaps no more well documented truth is scripture than that of the deity of Christ.
The Apostle John gives us a striking account of the living Word of God taking upon Him the form of flesh.
John 1:1-4,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians points out the deity of Christ by pointing to Him as the creator and sustainer of the universe. It is He who makes visible the image of the invisible God. It is He in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells.
Colossians 1:14-19
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible god, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
One of the most powerful statements concerning the deity of Christ is found in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:5-8
For unto which of the angels said he [God the Father] at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
If you were to stand before God the Father someday and He were to say, "Why did you call Jesus Christ God?", you could point to Hebrews 1:8 and say, "Because you did.". God the Father refers to His Son as "God" - "thy throne O God is for ever." If God the Father calls Jesus Christ God, can we do any less?
It is also in the book of Hebrews that we find one of the most definitive statements in scripture about the sinlessness of Christ's earthly existence.
Hebrews 4:15
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Clearly, Christ was the perfect, holy Son of God. A sinless man. A perfect man. A man who had not earned the wage of sin which is death. Yet scripture leaves no doubt that He did died.
The Death of a Perfect Man
Just as the scriptures give abundant testimony to the perfect sinless existence of Jesus Christ, they also give abundant testimony to His cruel, and seemingly unjust, death.
Hundreds of years before the fact of Jesus death, the prophet Isaiah wrote of this death that was to come.
Isaiah 53:5, 8-11
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. . . . He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet is pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Notice that Isaiah speaks not only of the physical sufferings and death of Christ but also about the suffering of His soul. Not only was Christ "cut off out of the land of the living" in a physical sense, but His soul also suffered death. On the cross Jesus Christ died two deaths, a physical death and a spiritual death. We can see another indication of this dual death in Matthew's account of the crucifixion.
matthew 27:46,50
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ... Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
In this account we see that Christ not only "gave up the ghost" (died physically) but he also was forsaken by the Father. In a prophetic view of the crucifixion in the 22nd Psalm we see why the Father forsook the Son in His hour of greatest need.
Psalms 22:1-6
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Jesus Christ answers His own question as to why God had forsaken Him. God had forsaken Him because he was a "worm and no man". The word "worm" in scripture is often a reference to a soul that is suffering the punishment and wrath of almighty God.
Isaiah 66:24
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Mark 9:43,44
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
On the cross Christ became a worm as he suffered God's judgement for sin on his soul. Obviously, if He was under God's judgement, He could not expect to receive God's deliverance. Instead, the Father forsook Him.
Clearly, the wage of sin is not only physical death but also spiritual death. Spiritual death involves alienation from God in torment for all eternity. This death is spoken of as the "second death" in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 21:8
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
On the cross, Jesus Christ suffered all of the death that sin brings, both physical and spiritual. The death of the cross was a very special death in that it went beyond just physical suffering to inclue a spiritual element also. This is why the Apostle Paul says in the book of Philippians that Christ became obedient unto death, "even the death of the cross". The death of the cross was a particularly painful death for Christ because it meant not only physical death but also spiritual death that would separate him from His Father and require Him to suffer the pain of the second death. And remember, all this is happening to a sinless man! A man who had no sin to earn Him the payment which is death. A man who was tempted in every way a man can be tempted and yet had no sin. A man who was perfectly holy and righteous in God's sight. Why did this perfect man go through such a cruel and painful experience? Why did this perfect man die?
Why Did a Perfect Man Die?
The information that we have looked at so far leaves us with a puzzleing problem. There seems to be no logical answer to the question that we asked above.
Logically we would say. . .The wages of sin is death--therefore--all sinners must die. Jesus Christ is not a sinner--therefore--He should not die.
But in fact what happened is . . . The wages of sin is death--therefore--all sinners die. Jesus Christ is not a sinner--but--He did died.
How can this be? How can a perfect man be made to pay the wages of sin? The answer to this seeming contradiction is at the very heart of the gospel. It is the supreme expression of God's mercy and grace to us. The sin for which Christ died was not His own. It was the sin of someone else. It was the sin of all mankind. It was your sin and my sin. Christ paid the wages for our sin.
Just as the scriptures give abundant testimony to the perfection and death of Jesus Christ so they give abundant testimony to the fact that the sin which brought about that death was not his own.
In the book of Isaiah the prophet makes clear that Israel's sin is being placed on Christ.
Isaiah 53:5,6
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
The Apostle Paul expands the scope of the sin which is laid on Christ to include not just Israel's sin but also the sins of the whole world.
II Corinthians 5:19-21
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who know no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
God reveals to us, that He was in Christ on the cross, and from that position He took all the sins of all humanity for all eternity and he chose not to impute them to man's account. Since the sins are not charged to man's account then the wages of those sins do not have to be paid by man. However, God cannot simply ignore the sin. The wage must be paid. In the book of Exodus we read of God's character and nature.
"Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty;"
God cannot simply ignore the sin. He cannot clear the guilty. Then how can he not impute the sins of man to man?
That is where the work of Christ comes in. Notice that Isaiah says that God laid on Christ the iniquity of Israel and Paul says that Christ, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for the world. In not reckoning our sin to our account God did not clear the guilty. He declared His Son, Jesus Christ, to be guilty - guilty of our sin!
When Christ died He did not pay the wage of His own sin, He paid the wage of your sin and my sin. What a thought! A thought that is both horrifying and comforting at the same time. An innocent man died a death that was not His. Worse than that, the death He died was mine. My sin caused the death of a perfect man. Horrifying! And yet the comfort of knowing that the wage of my sin has been paid. And if the wage for my sin has been paid then perhaps I need not pay that wage again. Perhaps I can escape the penalty of sin! That is exactly the good news and the comfort that the gospel of the Grace of God brings to a lost and hell-bound world.
The penalty for sin has been paid! Man need no longer bear the death that sin brings. Is this good news true for all men? Have all men's sins been paid for? YES, the Bible makes it clear that the sins of all men have been paid for, but it also makes it clear that God's free gift of righteousness and eternal life comes upon only those who believe.
I Timothy 4:10
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
Romans 3:21-23
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:
Notice that God is the Saviour of all, but "specially of those that believe" and God's righteousness is offered "unto all" but only comes "upon all them that believe". The key to salvation is belief. Belief in what? Belief in the good news that we have been discussing in this article. Believing that when Christ died on the cross, He was not dying for His own sin, but for your sin. Believing that there is no way that you can pay the wage of your sin, but that you must simply trust in the fact that Jesus Christ has paid it for you. Trust that when He died on the cross, He was dying your death.
When you believe that simple yet wonderful fact about the crucifixion of Christ, God reckons the righteousness of Christ to your account, just as He reckoned your sin to Christ's account. Just as Christ unworthily received your sin, so you unworthily receive His righteousness.
So Why Would a Perfect Man Die?
We started this article with a question, "Why would a perfect man die?". He would die if He loved you enough to allow the penalty for your sin to be placed upon Him. He would die if He was dying for you. That is exactly what Christ did, and if you will believe that simple message today, He will give you the free gift of eternal life. Believe today and be saved!
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