There are many advantages to being a Christian and knowing Jesus Christ. The full number of them may never be known by us as individuals.
However in this section of scripture we see that Jesus points to the specific advantage that we received not through His coming, but by His going. By this He is referring to the advantage that comes to man through His death, which I have called the Jesus Advantage and the reason why Jesus died.
Jesus points to one specific advantage that we will receive through His death, which I will discuss shortly, but there are others that we received through His death which are also worth looking at as they go to the core of the Christian walk and understanding why Jesus died.
Advantage Over Sin
The first of the reasons why Jesus died is the advantage we gain over sin. Through the death of Jesus we received release from our sin for, as John the Baptist said in John 1:29,
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus came to give us this magnificent advantage in taking away our sins. Not just forgiving, for that suggests the remembrance of sin. Instead He took them away. Totally. Completely. Gone!
In Jesus Christ we have the advantage of having our sins removed never to be seen or considered again. This was achieved through His sacrifice when He died for our sins and was resurrected for our justification as Paul also wrote about Jesus in Romans 4:25.
“(Jesus)… was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification”
He died so that we could be released from our bondage to sin. We could not be released unless He died and became the perfect sacrifice to wipe away all the sins of mankind…at least for those who come to Him to receive His gift through faith.
This action dealt with all of our past sins. When we come to Him and are baptised into His death, we take on His death as if it is our own and so through Jesus we die. The death He died he died to sin (Romans 6:10) and so when we enter His death in baptism, we too die to sin.
And now the life He lives he lives to God (also Romans 6:10) so we too live a new life to God as new creations in the resurrected Jesus Christ.
But what about future sin? If we come to him and accept His offering for our past sins, what happens if we fall and succumb to temptation in the future…and we do and we will. How are those sins covered? We can’t keep offering Jesus up as a sacrifice over and over again as they did with the blood of goats and bulls in the Old Covenant, so there must be a better way. And there is.
Advantage Over Law
The second reason why Jesus died is the advantage we gain over the law. The Old Covenant law has also been taken away for those who are baptised into the death of Jesus Christ and receive His gift through faith.
Why is this important? Well this is the method by which future sins is dealt with. First we must understand what sin is, for there are many views and opinions about this and many are mistaken.
In 1 John 3:4-6 we see sin is defined quite clearly.
4 Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
Sin is lawlessness. That is, sin is breaking the law. Which law? The laws as laid down in the Old Covenant, some 650-plus laws including the Ten Commandments. When a person breaks any of these laws they commit sin.
Many people wrongly believe that many of the human desires and emotions are sin. They believe things like anger, jealousy, envy and so on are sins, but they are not. However these can lead to sin if they lead a person to break one of the laws, but in their own right such emotions are not sin.
So how can you overcome and have victory over sin? Jesus removed sin through His death to give us forgiveness and removal of the past sins, but to overcome future sins He also removed the law. Or rather He removed us from the law. This is one of the main reasons why Jesus died.
The law still exists for every person who is under it but Jesus took us away from the law when we enter His death in baptism. We have died with Jesus and been buried in the grave with Him as we go down into the waters of baptism and have been also resurrected into the new life as we are lifted back up out of the waters of baptism.
It is critical that Christians understand this teaching for it is a faith based teaching. Through faith we believe that we are now dead to the world, dead to sin and dead to the law.
Paul wrote in Romans 7:4,
“…my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.”
You have died to the law. And this is important for Paul also writes in Romans 7:1,
“Do you not know, brethren–for I am speaking to those who know the law–that the law is binding on a person only during his life?”
The law is binding on a person only while they are alive. Thus if you die, you are no longer under the law. It does not bind you anymore for you are dead. And you receive this death by believing that you have died with Jesus Christ in baptism. Look at what Paul says in Romans 6:3-7,
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
7 For he who has died is freed from sin.
You see you are baptised into His death, buried and dead with Christ through baptism, united with Him in His death and raised as new creations. Powerful stuff! And we accept all of this through faith for this is the gift of God by Grace.
So now that we are dead, where is the law? Check what Paul wrote in Colossians 2:12-14,
12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
As Jesus was nailed up and died, He passed through death to arise again on the other side. But the law, which is the bond that was canceled with its legal demands, could not pass through death. The law relates to this life, the life in this world. It has no power over those who have died. So the law remains nailed where Jesus ended His life for our sake. It did not go through death with Him but remains in this world.
But we are new creations in Christ. We are no longer of this world for we have been born again or born from above as children of God in Christ Jesus. And as we have died with Him, the law no longer binds us either when we accept this through faith in the working of our water baptism.
So what can we say about the law now? Look at 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
55 “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus has taken away the sting of death which is sin by taking away all of our sins, past, present and future. When we died with Him in baptism He removed our sins and He took us away from the law. And as it says here sin is what gives death it’s sting or it’s power over man. We die because we sin. And it is the law which defines sin that man cannot keep which gives sin it’s power.
But when you remove the law, sin no longer has any power over us. You cannot break a law you are not under, and through baptism into Jesus death we are no longer under the law.
This is a tremendous advantage that we received through Him leaving and going back to the Father. And there is more to the reason why Jesus died…
Advantage of the Holy Spirit
In this scripture in verse 7 Jesus said,
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
This is the next step after being set free from sin and set free from the law. We need to receive the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to take us to the next phase of our Christian walk. And this is another fantastic gift that is given to us as part of the reason why Jesus died.
Once our sins have been taken away and we are no longer under the law, we should not continue as we were. We are still subject to the passions, desires and lusts of the flesh and it is a tremendous battle for us to overcome these things. But overcome them we must if we are to be like Christ.
Also, just because we are no longer under the law does not mean we are licenced to do whatever we like or to break those laws. We may well not be under the law, but we don’t ignore the wisdom contained in the law. Just because we are not under the law that says you shall not steal, does not allow us to go out and rob another person of their possessions.
Jesus set us free from the law for a specific purpose…to deal with sin. No sinner can stand in the presence of God and God gave up on man because of sin. But God, through His grace and through our baptism into Jesus Christ is now prepared to overlook our sins and set us free form the law so we cannot sin again, if we believe and have faith in this gift and offer He has given us.
But God wants us to be mature and to grow as Christians. He wants us to do the right thing by nature, not because there is a law that will punish us if we fail. He wants us to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, to live a life based upon the love of God and to live in peace with Him.
That is why He gives us the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has a job. His work is to work with us and on us. His Job is to transform us into the image of Christ. He is changing our human nature, based on lust and the passions and desires of mankind, into a godlike nature based on the love of God. We see this in 2 Corinthians 3:18,
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
It is a slow process of change and growth to become mature in Jesus Christ. It happens one degree at a time. It’s is not a dramatic shift and change, but a slow growth as we walk (not run) with Jesus Christ. We are being trained by knowledge and experience how to live as mature Christians in Jesus Christ, and this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
That is why Jesus said it is to our advantage that He goes away for He would send us the Holy Spirit to be with us forever.
He could not do it before He died because His death was what brought the New Covenant into being. He had to die first to deal with sin, to remove the law and to establish the New Covenant. He had to make peace between man and God by His sacrifice before God could help man. Sin stood between man and God and while it stood there blocking us from God, He could not help us. But when Christ died as the perfect sacrifice for sin, the blockage was removed and the grace of God flowed freely to all men who come to Christ and allowed the pathway by Grace to give us victory over sin and to restore us to a relationship with God.
This is the reason why Jesus died. And as I said at the start, there are many, many more advantages through coming to Jesus, but these are the key advantages that He gave us through leaving us. In His death we have life and are now reconciled to God.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Clare Long)
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