The Significance of the Death of Christ (continued)
b. Distance from God
And the enmity, of course, creates distance. That is how it was at the beginning. Immediately the enmity came into Adam, God withdrew, distance was created. It was distance of nature, not only distance of persons. God had put man apart from Himself, and man knows perfectly well by nature that he is at a distance from God. One of the characteristics of the unregenerate man is that he feels that God is such a long way off. Where is God? - somewhere out on the rim of the universe. God is far away. One of the first blessed characteristics of a born-again soul is a sense that God is near; the gap is closed up; God is at hand.
And sin brings impotence, helplessness. It is a fact, whether we realize it or not, which is brought out very clearly and strongly immediately the question of real salvation arises. Even though you may be one who has most thoroughly stood for salvation by works, as did Saul of Tarsus, when it comes to the real matter of the relatedness of salvation to your inner life, you have to say, "The good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice ... Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?" (Romans 7:19, 24). Impotence, helplessness - that is the result of sin.
The Issue of Independence - Death
That leads us at once to what that amounts to, what that is. It is death. What is death? We know it is not cessation of being. It is the change of the nature of our being, change in our relationships in being. Here death is the awful sense that God is against you - enmity working itself out in fear and dread of God; your full consciousness awakened to the wrath of God. That is the realm of enmity, that is death. Distance? - ah, yes; far, far away, far out of reach, out of call. You cannot get Him, you cannot find Him. You cry, but no response; He is far away. That is death, when your consciousness is fully alive to it. Impotence? - no hope, no resource, no recourse, helpless, abandoned; that is death. That is the result of sin.
We come to the Cross. Do you understand that aspect of the Cross in our Lord Jesus? There are two aspects to the Cross. We have said that Christianity is a system of paradoxes or contradictions. At one time you will be reading about the Cross as the most awful thing - the place of the wrath of God, the darkness, the terror. At another time you read about the Cross as that in which the Lord Jesus offered Himself without spot to God - God fully satisfied: all the heart longings and cravings of the very nature of God are answered to fully. That is the other side of the Cross. These two things meet in the Cross of Calvary, and you find that God has in all time given pictures of those two sides.
(continued # # 41 - (Types of Sin)