The book of Revelation is full of incredible promises from God concerning our salvation. For example, Jesus Christ says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). We are promised a shared rulership with Jesus Christ—if we overcome. Our future rule with Jesus Christ will be a “great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). The question is, will we make it?
Malachi’s Message shows us that salvation is an individual matter. Mr. Flurry wrote, “Salvation is not a group affair. Each one of us has the individual responsibility to respond—or not respond! Following Christ is an individual matter. Being in a Church can be meaningless without this understanding. Christ is knocking on your spiritual door. How will you respond to Christ? The one who responds positively receives the awesome reward of [Revelation 3:21]!” (p. 41). No other human being or human organization can obtain salvation for us. No minister or church organization can get us into the Kingdom of God. Each individual—each one of us—must obtain salvation through Jesus Christ.
Peter taught this fact to the Jews of his time: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). The deciding factor in whether or not we make it into the Kingdom of God is how well we follow Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ—Our Passover
God commands all Christians to observe the Passover (Exodus 12:14, 24-27; Lev. 23:5; Deuteronomy 16:1; i Corinthians 11:23-28). Anciently, the Passover—the blood of the sacrificed lambs—marked the beginning of the Israelites’ exodus from the cruelty of Egypt. Egypt is a type of sin (Hebrews 11:24-25). All firstborns of man and beast who did not have blood on their doorposts died in Egypt.
The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus Christ as “our Passover” (i Corinthians 5:7). Today’s Christian Passover is an annual memorial of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ for all human beings.
Why did Jesus Christ have to die for us? When Adam sinned, God decreed that only shed blood could remove that sin (Hebrews 9:22). But what blood was valuable enough to pay the penalty for human sin? The blood of lambs, bulls or goats could never remove the penalty of human sin (Heb. 10:4). Man is not an animal. Only the blood from a Being made in God’s image could pay the penalty for human sin (Genesis 1:26-27). That Being had to be Jesus Christ. Why?
Jesus Christ is our Creator (Ephesians 3:9). He shared great glory with God the Father (Col. 1:15). Only our Creator’s blood was valuable enough to provide adequate payment for the remission of all human sin. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippines 2:6-8). Jesus Christ was God. He gave up a great reputation and died a miserable, bloody death to pay the penalty for our sins.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God the Father made a great commitment to mankind. He decided to give His only Son, so we would not suffer the penalty of eternal death. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Revelation 13:8 calls Christ “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” In other words, at creation, Jesus Christ knew He would have to die to save mankind. He was willing to do so. Jesus Christ wanted a family (Hebrews 2:14-18).
The Passover season requires us to focus on the life of Jesus Christ. It is the time of year when we remember our personal Savior. Unless we have the blood of Jesus Christ on us, we will die in spiritual Egypt, or in bondage to our sin. Jesus Christ’s shed blood marks the beginning of our spiritual salvation. He died so we could obtain rulership with Him. If we are going to follow Jesus Christ, we must come to understand His sacrifice fully.
Let a Man Examine Himself
There is only one way to come to a full knowledge of the importance of Christ’s sacrifice. Keeping the Passover properly requires that we examine ourselves. A thorough spiritual examination of our own selves will show us how desperately we need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Paul warned the Corinthians, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew [proclaim] the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (i Corinthians 11:26-28).
How do we eat and drink unworthily? The Revised Standard Version (rsv) translates unworthily as “in an unworthy manner.” No human being is worthy of Christ’s sacrifice (see Romans 3:23; 5:8). However, we can be worthy in our attitude.
Taking the Passover worthily means we enter into the Passover service with deep respect for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. A casual attitude about Christ’s sacrifice makes us unworthy to take of the Passover.
What is our responsibility, given Christ’s sacrifice? Paul says we must examine ourselves.
Besides putting a focus on Christ’s sacrifice, we must also take a good look at the way we are presently living our Christian lives. Are we overcoming sin? Sin is the transgression of God’s law (i John 3:4). Sin not repented of keeps us separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Our individual sins required Jesus Christ to pay the death penalty for us (Romans 3:24-25). We have the responsibility to be sure that we are constantly in a repentant attitude (Acts 2:38; i John 1:5-9). Jesus Christ’s sacrifice can only redeem us from the death penalty if we continually repent of breaking God’s law and turn away from our sin. If we don’t, we are held guilty of the death of Jesus Christ (i Corinthians 11:27).
When we examine ourselves, we should measure ourselves against Jesus Christ, not another human being. Paul taught the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (ii Corinthians 13:5). At this time of year we are to be proving our own selves—not other members. Some Corinthians were having great personal difficulty with Paul. They focused on his weaknesses and sins. These Corinthians practically had Paul under a microscope. Essentially he was telling them, “Stop examining me and examine yourself!” These people put a wrong focus on Paul’s sin and ignored their own. We should not condemn others (Matthew 7:1). But we should judge ourselves! (i Corinthians 11:31).
If we use Jesus Christ as the yardstick to measure our own spiritual lives, we will see that we fall shamefully short of His perfect example. He was in complete submission to God’s government. He was flawless in obedience (Hebrews 5:8).
He always expressed love and compassion for other people (Matthew 9:36). In fact, He did everything that pleased God the Father (John 8:29). How often do we fail in these areas? Jesus Christ led a completely sinless life. We cannot say this about ourselves. Properly examining our own selves will show us that we need to be more like Jesus Christ. Not living as Christ lived is sinning! Where in our lives are we not acting like Jesus Christ? We need to focus on those areas and put those sins out of our lives!
Purge Out the Leaven
Immediately after the Passover come the Days of unleavened Bread. This period of seven days shows us that we must put sin out of our lives. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (i Corinthians 5:7). Sin is like leaven. If it is not eliminated from our lives, it grows and expands rapidly. Sin brings curses and sorrow into our lives (Deuteronomy 28:15). Remember, the ultimate curse of sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).
God will not compromise His law. If we continue in sin, we will not make it into God’s Kingdom. We will die an eternal death (i Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation. 22:14-15). We must take responsibility for our spiritual lives and put the sin out!
One of the sobering lessons of the spring holy day season is that God holds each individual responsible for his own salvation. God the Father and Jesus Christ have done their part. We must do ours. Paul taught the Philippians, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is an exciting, yet serious, scripture. It requires us to take responsibility for our own actions. Christ’s sacrifice opens salvation to us. We, through obedience, “work out” the details of that salvation.
We Reap What We Sow
In the ministry, we too often hear of people blaming their faults or sins on others. Some adults still blame their parents for their weaknesses and shortcomings. Let’s recognize one fact that all human beings share in common—no one has had perfect parents! God does not allow us to use this fact as an excuse not to overcome sin.
“What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:2-4). Our parents (or any other human beings) are not responsible for our sins—we are!
When we sin, God holds us responsible for that sin. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:7-9).
We must not allow ourselves to be deceived when it comes to sin. If we don’t put sin out of our lives, God will allow us to reap the consequences of those sins. God will allow sorrow and curses to enter into our lives. We must take the blame when we break God’s laws. When we blame others for our sin, the sin stays with us. Putting the fault where it belongs—on our own shoulders—will motivate us to get rid of the sin.
When we take responsibility for our sin and then repent and change, God promises us great spiritual blessings. We will reap everlasting life. Never forget, we will make it into the Kingdom, or not make it, based on our own individual efforts. No one else can get us there. No one else can keep us away. God’s laws will either work for us or against us. It is our choice.
A Life of Overcoming
We can never give up when it comes to overcoming sin. Because of Satan, our own human weakness and this world, we are constantly bombarded with temptation to break God’s laws.
We are tempted through our own lusts. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). Occasionally we fail; yes—all of us fail. But the failures should not continually be repeated over and over again. Christ expects us to overcome. When we truly strive to overcome a certain sin, Jesus Christ will help us succeed. But we must be working to overcome.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (i John 1:8-9). When we recognize our failures, repent and strive to overcome sin, God abides with us and cleanses us from sin (John 15:1-6). We are under grace (Ephesians 2:8). God still leads us.
When we overcome sin, it means that we are actually allowing Jesus Christ to live His life over again in us (Romans 8:1, 10). If we allow Christ to live in us, either until our death or His return, then we shall be saved by Christ’s life (Romans 5:10).
Jesus Christ commands all of us, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ wants us to become perfect just like God the Father is perfect. The word for perfect in the Greek is teleios and can mean complete, of full age or mature. We must become complete, of full age and mature spiritually. Examining ourselves, then keeping the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread and all of God’s laws, is essential to attaining this spiritual perfection.
In preparing for the Passover, let’s be sure to put our focus on Jesus Christ’s life of sacrifice. Let us also examine our own selves and then strive to overcome our sins. Let’s all do as Paul says: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (i Corinthians 5:8).