He Was Manifested For Our Sins
Dr. Donald J. Ralston
First John, Chapter 3 verse 5
"And you know that He was manifested", that word manifested means, appeared - that is, appeared on the stage of human history, "to take away our sins, and in Him is no sin". Notice the advent of Christ into our world. The advent that we refer to as the virgin birth of Christ, is enunciated in this text. It gives us the express purpose for which He appeared in our world. It says that "He was manifested to take away our sins." Now what does it mean when it says manifested to take away our sins? I would suggest to you that it includes those lawless acts of rebellion that we have all done. It includes those thoughts, words and deeds that were callous. He was manifested to take away our sins. When John the Baptist pointed Him out one day beside the River Jordan, do you remember how he spoke of Him? He said, Behold, as he pointed his finger at this unique peasant, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." The same Greek word used in this verse is used in I John 3:5, when John pointed Him out he used the word in the singular. In 1 John, chapter three, verse five, he used the word in the plural-take away the sins of the world. The singular, includes all sin. That is why John the Baptist is referring to him as the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world, that is ALL sins. It includes ALL, not only the acts of rebellion against God but all of the sins of omission. The things that we have failed to do for God. Sins of attitude that we have felt in our mind toward people. Behold He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. In everyone of us there is a consciousness of sin. All of us have that consciousness. Not one of us would dare to say we have never done anything that we should not have done. In most cases, all of us have done those things that we should not have done. We may excuse them but there is still the internal consciousness of our sin. We are aware of it -- it is there. Sometimes it may not come back to us every single moment of the day but in that moment of reflective consciousness, that sin comes back to haunt us. As a matter of fact, most everyone of us has something that we regret. The one regret you'll have as you get older will be the things that you have done to grieve the heart of God, and those that loved you and nurtured you in the things of God.
Then the question comes is there anyone that can lift the burden of that sin? That is why John comes along and says "He was manifest" -- Jesus was manifested in history in order to get beneath my sin. To lift them and to carry them away. First Peter 2:24 says, "He himself self bore our sins" up and away on the cross. That is the fulfillment of that familiar story in the Old Testament, all of us have heard about it or possibly read about it in our Bible. The story deals with the scapegoat, in the book of Leviticus. The priest went out and laid both hands on the head of this goat and as he laid his hands on that goat, the whole nation knew the meaning --- their sin was being placed -- transferred to this goat. In the purpose and plan of God, the priest shed the blood, then it was dipped, and sprinkled. After the shedding of blood and the sprinkling of that blood, suddenly this priest laid his hands upon this animal, in type, God was saying the nation of Israel's sin is laid upon this animal. It was the people's substitute for their sin. There had to be a transference of Israel's sin to a substitute or they had to pay for their sins themselves. God made a way and gave express orders to the priest that this is the way that he would accomplish it. You take the one Goat, you slay it, sprinkle it's blood and on the other goat the priest would lay both of his hands and transfer the sin of the people to the second goat. Then someone is to take that goat out into a solitary place, into the wilderness and it would wander off, never to be seen again. That scene, that picture, is a beautiful and graphic picture of our sin being lifted and being placed on another and that sin being sent to a solitary place. Is there a time, or place, in history when that actually took place? Interestingly enough we use that word scapegoat; even today we talk about a person that was being used as a scapegoat. I often hear of it in cases of certain things that happen in the military and they say of someone lower in rank, that this whole thing was transferred to him and he was stripped of rank and pressed out of the service -- because he became the scapegoat. That means that someone transferred the responsibility for their failure to someone else and let them pay for it. That is a scapegoat. That is exactly what Jesus became for us. All of our transgressions were transferred to him. He became our scapegoat. He identified with us. Not only did he become the scapegoat, not only was it transferred to him but in his case he did it without a whimper. He did it without complaining. He did not cry that the one above him was laying this upon him unjustly. He voluntarily laid down His life, in order that sins might be transferred to him.
The "solitary place" in Scripture refers to the removing of sin, far from God's sight and from the sight of the people. Two persons lost sight of sin the day it was transferred to that scapegoat; God no longer saw that sin because that animal went out into a solitary place. That sin was removed from God's sight and it was also removed from the people's sight and that is exactly what happened when people are identified with Jesus Christ in salvation. Our sin is transferred to Him and God removes it from us to a solitary place never to be remembered against us again. That is what is involved in this verse, "He was manifested to take away our sins". That is what the story of the nativity is all about. It isn't just the birth of a baby - it is the purpose for which the baby was born. "He was manifested to take away our sins."
I went and looked up that expression "take away", I wondered what the "take away" means. I went to the Greek and looked up the word; the word that is translated "take away" and here is what that word means. It has a broad scope of meaning to it. Keep in mind the expression "take away our sins". the word means - to lift up. It also has the idea in it - to carry and then the third aspect of it is - to take up and away. The whole idea then is to lift, to carry and to take up and away. The Bible says that is exactly the purpose of Jesus coming, He came to lift our sins. He came to carry the weight of our sin and He came to take it away. That is why the literal Greek, in 1 Peter 2:24, where it says; He himself (emphasis being upon Christ) took our sin, up and away on the cross. Fulfilling the very picture of that scapegoat in the Old Testament. You see the moment that you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you receive Him into your life. You confess that you are a sinner, you acknowledge that is what you are. You see that He became your substitute for your sin. He came to lift your sin. He came to take the weight and load and to carry your sin. He came not only to do that but He came to take it away from you altogether. He fulfilled the meaning of that scapegoat in the Old Testament. When you place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, in reality you have laid your hands upon Jesus, and you transferred your sin to Him. They are transferred to Him and then He lifts them up and carries them into a solitary place, that is, He takes your sin away, never to hold it against you again. Think of that! That is why the Scripture can say. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus", because He became the scapegoat. My sins have been transferred to Him. If you do not have Jesus Christ as your Savior, YOU have to carry your sins. You die in your sins. You will pay the penalty for your sins. You either have your sins transferred to your substitute or you have to face them in your own stead.
I am glad I have someone who has taken my sins into a solitary place. He was led outside of the gates to the city and crucified in my place. He died in my stead. He paid the penalty for my sin and the moment that I received Him as my Savior and Lord -- that moment my sin was transferred to Him and I became a child of God through faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone.
When John makes the statement that He was manifested for our sins he immediately adds, "AND in Him is no sin". He is the one in whom there is no missing of the mark, the one in whom there is no sin, the one that was manifested for the express purpose of bearing away the sins of others. The one who knew no sin.
Do you remember the promise involved in the birth -- the story in Matthew of the birth of Jesus Christ? Turn with me to Matthew Chapter one. Let us go back to that familiar story that you hear preached every year at Christmas, verse twenty one of Matthew, chapter one. The angel was telling what was happening and in verse twenty one it says, "And she" (that is Mary) "shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus" (now why call His name Jesus?) "for He shall save His people from their sins." Catch that - His very name, Jesus, means He shall save His people from their sins. The moment that you receive Jesus - His name means Savior -- Savior from sin. That is why each Sunday we invite you to receive Jesus. "Thou shall call His name Jesus" -- Why? "For He shall save His people from their sins." He saves us from the punishment and penalty of our sins. The shepherds heard this song -- there is born unto you this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. So the whole story of Jesus' birth involves the coming of one who could lift the burden and weight of our sin and take it away. Let us take this one step further. Let us put the emphasis upon one word in our text in 1 John -- HE was manifested. Who is the HE? Well, whoever this HE is I need to know. Let us look at chapter two of our book that we are studying, 1 John, verses 1 and 2. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (2) And HE is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Who is the HE? The one who is the propitiation for sins Jesus Christ. The one who is the Advocate with the Father. Turn over further to chapter four, verses 14 and 15."And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." Then who is this He? Go back to John chapter one. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Now catch this -- this Word was with God, this Word was God. John one, verse one. Now look at verse 14 in chapter one. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Who is HE that was manifested? The one who is the Advocate with the Father, the one who is the propitiation for our sins. The one who is the Word and He is the Word who became flesh. He was manifested to take away our sins. Since He is the one who is referred to as God in the flesh -- then He is capable of taking the entire weight of the sin, the sum total of the human sin and bearing it away. Since He is God He can do it. He can bear it away so far your sin can no more be found. Buried in the sea of God's forgetfulness. In the deepest depths of the sea the Scripture says. In the cross of Jesus Christ I see the love of God working out the redemption of humanity.
I can hear someone ask - how can any one man bear the sin of the other? No one man can bear the sin of another. I cannot bear your sin nor can you bear mine. No man can bear the sin of another but if the one bearing it is God -- then He can gather up all the fragments of human sin and wipe them away and wipe the slate clean! That is why the Scripture says "He was manifested". The one who was the Word, the one who was with God; The one who was the Advocate with the Father; The one who was the propitiation for our sins; The one who went to Calvary and died in our place. He is the one who became the scapegoat. He can save us because He is God in human flesh. The birth of a baby in our world is significant, if indeed that baby is God in the flesh.
Turn with me to Matthew 1:23, "Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a child and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us." He was manifested. That is what the birth of this baby is all about. That is what Christmas is all about. This Jesus whom we worship today, whom we sing about -- Joy to the World, the Lord is come. It is this Jesus that is God in the flesh. This Jesus is God with us, God for us, God lifting us, God cleansing us, God forgiving us. That is who Jesus is -- His name interpreted is God with us. No wonder the songwriter said Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee. That is where we can hide. That is where we are safe. That is our refuge. Christmas is special, no doubt about it. It is special because a special person, accomplished something special. What was it that was so special that he did? He was manifested to take away our sin. A poet wrote this:
Mary had a little lamb,
whose life was as pure as driven snow.
The lamb was unique in God's design,
for He died to make me whole.
If here and now you will place your faith and trust in Him as your Savior and your Lord -- your sin is taken away. I want you to know it is something more than just acknowledging a Manger Scene. That whole story is simply to say He appeared on the stage of human history. He came that way in order to accomplish a purpose and that purpose according to our text is "He was manifested to take away our sin". The greatest gift of all can be yours. Your sins can be lifted off of your back, out of your conscience. Wouldn't that be wonderful? The greatest thing I know is to no longer have to bear my own sin in my own conscience. To no longer carry the weight of it because there is someone who has gotten underneath it. That is what the word take away means. Jesus has lifted it, carried it and taken it away. If you ever remember your sin again -- it is not God bringing it up, it is Satan. You never have to listen to it anymore. Just point to the Word of God, to this text today and say -- I have received the Lord Jesus as my Savior. I acknowledge Him, I have believed upon Him so therefore my sin has been taken to a solitary place, never to be remembered against me anymore. I want you to know that today and I want you to be assured of that today. I want you to leave in the consciousness of that today. All we have to do is receive it, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. Beautifully simple. An offer of eternal life as a free gift. All you have to do is take it, receive it -- God offers it. Will you do that today? This is the Good News of the Gospel!