By Candy Arrington
Following his death, Jesus’ followers huddled together behind locked doors, fearing what would happen next. They were confused, shocked, and grieving. In the midst of their heartache and fear, they couldn’t fully comprehend the results of his death. Even though Jesus tried to prepare them, those who remained didn’t understand the full extent of the changes his death brought to their lives and to the world.
Often we’re resistant to change. We cling to the familiar, even if it limits us, because we know what to expect. Change equals uncertainty. But Jesus’ death paved the way for a different kind of existence for all those who believe. Let’s examine the changes his death makes in our lives:
We Are Forgiven of Our Sin
From the time Adam and Eve chose disobedience until Jesus’ death on the cross, people had to offer sacrifices to atone for sin and to maintain a right standing with God. Each sin required a sacrifice. Jesus’ death, his self-sacrifice, paid for our sins—past and future—once and for all. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7, New King James Version). With our redemption came freedom and grace. Confession and repentance replaced endless sacrifices.
Because we have the gift of forgiveness for sins, we are admonished to also offer grace and forgiveness to those in our lives who sin against us. Although difficult to do, we have a biblical mandate to forgive others as an extension of the grace God bestows on us. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13, New Living Translation).
We Are Freed from Legalism
Prior to Jesus’ death, people were bound to the law, which was intricate and burdensome. Life was a series of hoop jumps and striving for religious perfection that no human could ever achieve. When Jesus died on the cross, the dividing wall between humanity and God crumbled, and the chasm between holy God and sinful people was spanned. “For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
But sometimes we forget the freedom we have in Christ and impose “laws” on ourselves and others that are unnecessary and contrary to the concept of grace. The church at Colosse struggled with this, and Paul addressed it in his letter to them: “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, ‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them” (Colossians 2:20-22).
The attitudes and teachings of the world rub off on us, even when we make an effort not to conform to them. And often we buy into the idea that we have to constantly be doing something to earn forgiveness. But Paul reminds us that our righteousness comes through faith. “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9). The heroes of the Bible were commended not for accomplishments, but for their faith.
We Have Direct Access to the Father
Jesus’ death made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. Before Jesus, priests were the only ones who could enter the holy of holies and live. But John 1:51 refers to Jesus as the stairway between Heaven and earth. Jesus’ death for our sins restored the type of relationship God had with Adam and Eve in the garden, allowing us direct access to the Father.
“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50, 51).
Once the separation between people and God was bridged through Jesus, we gained the ability to come into God’s presence any time, praise him, make our requests known to him, and have fellowship with him. But often we miss out on this privilege, dashing through life as a servant to the urgent and forgetting that God is ready and willing to help us with daily challenges, fears, and frustrations.
God desires intimate relationships with us. Yet sometimes we feel we have to reach some sort of spiritual perfection before we can approach him. Instead, he wants us to come to him with problems and concerns, with our praise and thanksgiving, and in acknowledgment of our sin. We miss out on wisdom, encouragement, and guidance when we exclude God from the details of our lives.
We Receive the Holy Spirit
Jesus promised the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would come once he returned to his Father (John 16:7). His Spirit is that inner voice that guides, convicts, teaches, sustains, comforts, and reminds us we aren’t abandoned to figure things out on our own. The Spirit is one of God’s greatest gifts to us, providing power from Heaven (Luke 24:49).
Attuning ourselves to the Holy Spirit is like recharging our spiritual batteries, but often we don’t tap into that power. We allow the noise of worldly expectations, selfishness, fears, and relationships to drown out the still, small voice within. And because the Holy Spirit doesn’t shout, we often miss or ignore the guidance and peace the Spirit affords. Like trying to decipher a distant melody, we have to listen with spiritual ears and block out distractions.
We Are Adopted
Heritage is an important part of our existence. It lends a sense of belonging and connection. God graciously extends all the rights and privileges of sons and daughters to all of us when we believe and accept Jesus Christ. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5).
Our adoption into the family of God gives us the right to approach our heavenly Father as we would an earthly father for advice, comfort, and support. Adoption also guarantees that we are joint heirs with Christ as we anticipate Heaven.
We Gain Eternal Life
Have you ever received a wonderful gift, one you didn’t request, expect, or deserve? Or perhaps someone offered to pay a debt you owed, one you knew you’d have to work for years to fulfill. Jesus is the ultimate gift. His sacrifice on the cross marked our sin debt “paid in full” and secured our future in Heaven.
For some, that is a difficult concept to grasp because they are unwilling to accept a reward they didn’t earn. But Scripture records Jesus’ promise: “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life” (John 5:24). What an amazing promise! Our existence here on earth doesn’t end with death. Our eternity in Heaven is secure because of God’s great love for us in sending his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins (John 3:16).
No other death in history has had the impact of Jesus’ death. Through his death he gave abundant life.
Ruthanne N. Arrington (Candy) is a freelance writer from Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Living in Victory
If you’re a follower of Jesus, the six results of Christ’s death (listed in the article and listed below) are true in your life—no matter what. But your attitudes, actions, and beliefs can get in the way of these gifts fully coming to fruition in your life.
Which of these is most evident in your day-to-day life—in the way you relate to God, yourself, and others? Which is least evident? Repent and ask God to help you open yourself more fully to the results of Christ’s victory in your life.
1. Forgiveness of sin
2. Freedom from legalism
3. Direct access to the Father
4. The Holy Spirit
6. Eternal life