What Good Friday is All About
Isaiah 53: 1-6, “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Easter season is the time we “Celebrate Jesus’ Life and His Triumph over Sin and Death.”
We are about to enter into the time of the year that should fill the child of God with great joy and expectation. It has been said, “Easter is proof that God’s Messiah had come.” Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate the birth of Christ, and the Easter season is the time we “Celebrate Jesus’ Life and His Triumph over Sin and Death.” I would propose to you that Christians should remember what “Good Friday” was all about. Because of the price Christ paid on the Cross, Christians should live a life that says “We want to stop falling prey to sin. Just how do the children of God live a life that presents the hope of Christ to a lost world? What are the truths to living a life that says I am victorious in Christ, purchased by His blood?
Concept of sin
The key truth to cling to in celebrating Christ’s life and victory over sin and death is the concept of sin. When this is understood, the heart can be made ready to enjoy Salvation found in Christ and victory over that which destroys fellowship with God. Romans 3:23-25 says, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood…”
Everyone has “sinned” (hamartono) meaning to miss the mark on the way to what God had created you for. The Holy Spirit revealed to Paul that sin is a powerful source ruling within people (Romans 7:23) and this battle continues on and on trying to harden the spiritual heart. (Romans 7:21-24) Adam was constituted by God as the head of the generation of mankind and when he fell, that fallen nature was and is passed on to his descendants. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” The New American Standard Bible says, “…so death spread to all men.” The Greek Word for “came” (dierchomai) or “spread” means to extend to. Paul is saying, “Sin penetrated the entire human race. Like water permeates through sand, sin takes effect on the entire man, physically and spiritually.” Sin is often compared to cancer, a living disease, not like a rotten branch which may be easily blown off with a fair wind. Sin is like a living, crawling, poisonous crab in the soul and can only be overcome by Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit revealed to the Apostle Paul the blessedness of having the Spirit of Christ living in the child of God. He wrote in regard to life through the Spirit, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” Christians who understand the truths of sin fear the cost of sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” “Death” (thanatos) in the New Testament is treated not as a natural process but always as a destroying power related to sin and all its consequences.
There are four truths to grasp as we take time to celebrate all that Christ overcame for His children this Easter season. There are the truths of physical death, spiritual death, eternal death and victory over death.In speaking of physical death Jesus said, “Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:14) It is the curse that came with the sin of Adam spoken of in Genesis 3:19 which says, “…you will return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Just as we see God’s curse on the ground and the curse of pain in childbearing we see the curse of sin today through physical death. All through Biblical history mankind has been plunged into physical death. Sin brought forth physical death and understanding the concept of spiritual death enables people to grasp the frightening state James wrote about, “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) “Death” here means separation, separated from God thus causing one to miss the resurrection of the righteous in Christ and missing out on fellowship with God. The Apostle Paul writes about the condition of the Ephesians before they were made alive in Christ and about those who are still without Jesus, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
The Apostle Paul understood the concept of spiritual death and he writes in great detail about the life they live. He presents this truth, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32) The Bible says, “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:28) It is imperative to remember we are referring to people who know about God and know about His Word. Because they are spiritually dead, the Holy Spirit is unable to move them from their love of sin to a love for Christ. People who have hearts of stone feel no shame or guilt as they live lives of profanity, jealousy, racism, lies, drunkenness, stealing, (omit going into) fits of rage, greed, cheating, disobeying parents, illegal drug use, lust, gambling, murder, adultery, covetousness, gossip, hatred, dishonoring the Lord’s day, pride or slander. As a matter of fact they think it strange that they can’t get others to follow their lifestyle. (1 Peter 4:1-4) This is a much different state than of the child of God who knows the Lord and seeks God’s forgiveness with a repentant heart as soon as he falls into any kind of sin.
Knowing the concept of sin enables people to fear spiritual death and eternal death. Revelation 20:11-25 says, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
There is going to be the “Great White Throne Judgment” and standing before it will be kings, presidents, democrats, republicans, false preachers, the religious dead, corporate businessmen, common laborers, prostitutes, town drunks and people from the richest and poorest countries in the world. It has been well said, “Physical death is the great leveler.” All who are pushed into the river of physical death apart from Christ will be judged. The end result–everyone whose name is not written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.
Opportunity to get victory over sin and death
People who understand the concept of sin have a fear of physical, spiritual and eternal death. They also have the great opportunity to get victory over sin and death. The writer of the Book of Hebrews writes about Jesus in chapter 2:14-17, “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Because we were flesh and blood our Lord Jesus Christ took on flesh and blood. Through His death He destroys Satan’s hold on mankind. Satan often uses the sinful nature and the influences of the world to put mankind into bondage to sin, thus birthing forth a life of sin causing separation from fellowship with God, keeping mankind from Christ and, making hearts hard to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible says “He had to be made like His brothers in every way…” The writer of the Book of Hebrews says this about Jesus as well, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15)
When visiting with a man who was going through some counseling for an addiction, he told me, “No one understands us, we are all like minded and have the same struggles. We are made the same, we understand each other.” Sadly, this man was finding fulfillment and justification in these counseling meetings. The problem was that those who attended the meetings had a history of being repeat offenders offering the same excuses each time. They were always blaming someone or something for their backsliding. Christians who understand the concept of sin and Christ being fully man so He can pay the penalty of sin on the Cross of Calvary proclaim, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Christians who are Holy Spirit illuminated with this truth are thanking God often for Christ’s incarnation and His death and resurrection so they can get victory over death. The Bible says that Jesus’ death on the Cross literally “destroys” death (2 Timothy 1:10) meaning to render powerless all that deprive and keep people from walking with Christ as He gives enablement by the Holy Spirit.
Apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ mankind cannot overcome that sinful nature that so easily falls prey to this world’s view and the lies of the devil. Understanding the concept behind all that Jesus did enables Christians to proclaim as the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) As Representative and Substitute Man, Jesus tasted death for every human being so that Christians pass from death unto life. This life in Christ overcomes physical death at the resurrection of the living, overcomes spiritual death, and escapes eternal death. Jesus spoke of those who have a concept of what He accomplished on the Cross, He said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” (John 5:24-25)
Desire victory over sin
Enjoying the victory Christ purchased by His blood causes Christians to desire victory over sin and makes them hungry for His righteousness. Forgiveness and salvation from sin is guaranteed to the repentant. The repentant grasp the heart of the Apostle Paul who wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. The fear of offending the Lord and the desire to please Him is within the spiritual heart of Christians who express a life that says, “I want to stop falling prey to sin.” F. W. Robertson wrote, “…Tender motives are not enough to restrain from sin.” Christians who understand what Good Friday is all about set their sights on the holiness of God, however, they say as the Apostle Paul, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12)
Christians let the promise of the Lord’s presence, fellowship with God, with Christ and with the Holy Spirit spur them on to a desire to be sanctified by mortifying lust and corruption. The Bible teaches three responsibilities in the sanctification process, 1.) Mortification. 2.) Meditation on the Word of God and 3.) Allowing Manifestation of Christ-likeness. The Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write about our struggle with the sinful nature in Romans chapter 7. In Romans 8 Paul writes about life through the Holy Spirit and instructs us with, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…” (Romans 8:13) Paul also instructs Christians with Colossians 3:5, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature.” The words “put to death” or “mortify” means to deliver over to death, to kill. Paul uses the word to indicate a process of deadening the power of the flesh.
I used to ride motorcycles and there is something about them that makes you to want to just give it gas and go. The more gas you give the motorcycle the more power the engine has to satisfy that lust that causes you to disobey your parents, the law and to see just how much you can get by with. One day I went over to Mark McKenna’s house. His parents were not home so we thought we would just race up and down the county road. Over and over again we raced back and forth and every time we would race that lust was being satisfied yet wanted more and more. We would think up everything we could to make the race more exciting and dangerous. Mark’s dad came home so I headed for my house. As I was riding home, without warning the motorcycle engine died and there it sat along the road dead.
When people fail to look to the Cross of Christ and remember the words written by Paul, “put to death… whatever belongs to the earthly nature,” they just keep pouring gas to the inward sinful nature and without warning they find themselves dead to the Holy Spirits promptings. They are dead to fellowship with the Lord thus allowing them to fall farther than they wanted to go into sin, keeping them longer than they ever wanted stay in that sin and costing them more than they ever wanted to pay. Paul is saying, in regard to the price paid for us by Christ on the Cross we are not to feed the sinful nature, we are not to give it the fuel or food it needs to get power over us. Just like the engine of a motorcycle, if we do not give the sinful nature the fuel it is graving, it will not have the power to control our lives. If by the power of the Holy Spirit we feed the soul the Word of God and surrender to the will of the Lord we can mortify our spirit dead to sin and (omit a) live in Christ.
In Closing: Good Friday is approaching and considering the price Christ paid on the Cross Christians should want to live a life that says, “We want to stop falling prey to sin.” No one is above sin’s temptations, so all must take heed of the possible dangers. The Book of Romans tells Christians what their obligation is as Paul writes, “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13)
God our loving Father and Christ understood the concept of sin. Sin is what Good Friday is all about. Sin came through Adam and carried into all of mankind. It brings physical death, spiritual death and the horror of eternal death. Christ’s crucifixion on the Cross made Him our sin bearer and His atonement (hilaskomai) satisfied the justice of God, opened the veil so we can enter the throne of grace and find mercy in our times of fighting that continual battle against the sinful nature. The great news is that Jesus Christ is the faithful One and is able to lead us victoriously because He was tempted in every way that we are, yet He remained without sin. We do not need to sit in the counsel of those who keep falling into sin. We can enjoy the Holy Spirit of Christ who is the Counselor and live by His power to mortify the flesh putting to death the misdeeds of the sinful nature. Christians who understand the concept of sin and the price Jesus paid for them on Calvary say in their hearts as the old man who sat beside the basketball court at a Bible college reading his Bible. One day Vernon Grounds asked the old man if he understood what he was reading. The old said “O yes, Christ won victory over sin and death so He might live in us and we for Him.” Sin is what brought Good Friday about, so sinful man might be reconciled unto God, man who was a enemy of God may have fellowship with the Lord because of the sacrificial love shown to all mankind through the death of Christ.