This month we’ve been talking all things atonement as we prepare for Holy Week to arrive. So far we’ve deconstructed the Penal Substitution theory of the atonement on various grounds, and I have offered the suggestion that perhaps the Devil is the missing link (the agent of causation) within many atonement theories. Finally, I have suggested that the cross is best viewed from 50,000 feet where one can see an ancient battle between a benevolent God, and forces of evil.
While in my last post I focused on the word “ransom” and considered how this might influence our theology, it must not be missed that this Greek word also has strong connotations of liberation, as some astute commenters pointed out. This of course, invites the question, “Liberation from what?“
While I have already demonstrated that the chief work of the cross was to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8), I also believe that is just one side of a two-sided coin.
Track with me for a moment: the Bible calls the Devil (however one wants to define him/that) as the “accuser.” In this regard, it points to this force of evil as being someone/something that is constantly pointing out our sin and failures, which we all have. In fact, in Revelation 12:10 the accuser is described as one who stands before God and accuses us day and night– constantly.
This invites another question: On what basis are we accused?
Like a prosecuting attorney, the accuser must have the basis of an accusation rooted in the law. To disarm an accuser one would need to accomplish one of two things: either (a) prove the accused is innocent, or (b) change or end the law that calls them guilty. Sure– one who loves to accuse will keep accusing, but without the law to back them up their accusations would be totally disarmed and futile.
For us, we have all sinned– thus the former is not possible. However, to disarm our accuser (even if the accuser is ourselves), Christ has accomplished the latter: he has freed us from the OT law that only served as a barrier between ourselves and God.
In Romans 7 Paul writes that he wouldn’t have even known he was a sinner apart from the law (7:7), and that the law ended up arousing sin (v5) and death:
“But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.9 And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive 10 and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death! 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.”
When considering what the law does, one could even say that the law itself is our accuser.
In this same chapter, Paul also argues that because of the death of Christ, we too have died to the law and have been freed from it– going as far as saying that the law was what controlled us (v6), and that without it we can find new life that is not “under the written code” (v6).
Thus, a chief work of the cross is that Christ has completely freed us from the oppression of living under OT law, which became the chief barrier between ourselves and God. To this Paul also writes in Ephesians that Christ has “destroyed the barrier” by “ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations” (2:15).
The Law of Moses resulted in death and a barrier between God and humanity, as it constantly accused us– so Christ removed that barrier by ending the entire system that served as a basis of accusation.
Beyond allowing us to find life and become new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), the result of bringing an end to the OT law had one final result: it disarmed our accuser(s). In Col 2:15 Paul describes it this way:
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
As the new Adam, Christ not only completed the law and set it aside; he disarmed our accuser(s) and made a public mockery of it all.
I believed this was accomplished through the mockery of a public demonstration. This public spectacle– one we’re still talking about 2000 years later– showed that one could keep the law perfectly, but still be murdered under the weight of it– even if that person was God in the flesh. I can think of no stronger basis for setting something aside.
Thus, when we talk of the atonements in terms of “ransom,” we could say that Christ has ransomed us from the accusations of the law.
Now, does this mean we can live however we want and that there’s no such thing as sin? Of course not– we are under the law of Christ, which is a higher law. What it does mean, however, is that the complex and oppressive legal code we find given by Moses in the Old Testament, was defeated at the cross. This has been done that we might find life in following Christ– without the barrier, hostility, and accusations the law brought.
One side of the coin is our accuser. On the other side of the coin is the basis of accusation– and the cross has disarmed and defeated both of them.
Mr. Corey dude, really?
While you point to a passage in Revelation about the ‘accuser’ did you miss the fact that it is Satan who is the Accuser? Did you miss those passages in Revelation? Did you miss Satan standing before God in the Book of Job? Where was the Mosaic Law then? Was Job under the Mosaic Law?
Corey, does this whole passage, in its context, make it sound to you that the Devil isn’t more than a ‘thing’ or that it is the Law?
Rev. 12:7-12) And war broke out in heaven: Miʹcha·el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them any longer in heaven. 9 So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent*(*remember ‘Gen. ch. 3’?*)*, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. 10 I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! 11 And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. 12 On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time.”
The Law God gave through Moses is still a useful thing that helps to establish what sin is and that sin does indeed exist in the world. It is also said that without the Law, there is no basis for judging sin. Thus the law from God gives us something against which God can ‘judge’ the whole of the world. Jesus is the ultimate means of that law that He can judge ppl ‘guilty’ of sin for rejecting Jesus the fulfiller of the Law.
I tend to believe Jesus over Paul (Matthew 5). Also understand that what Christians consider “sin” is not so considered by the Jews. For us, it ends in eternal damnation. For them, it’s a couple of weeks of no Temple (except in cases of capital punishment). Also do not forget that Jesus was a Pharisee and kept the law himself, as did 99% of the apostles and disciples. Jesus’s negative messages concerning “the law” all referenced the add ons from the Rabbis over the centuries, not what was written in Leviticus. He did liberate the Jews from their own overly stringent exaggerations of the law, but BEING THE LAW HIMSELF (In the beginning was The WORD) he wouldn’t have said he was irrelevant. Jews to this day believe Leviticus is a gift that leads to a peaceful life now and brings great rewards.