"The Substitute"

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Growing up in Iowa I played a lot of basketball. I played on several teams. When I was younger I played basketball at the DesMoines YMCA. Eventually as I grew older I played basketball on my Jr. High and then Sr. High team. One of the things that always stood out to me was that after a while I would get tired or sometimes hurt, so a substitute would come in for me. I always hated that because I liked to stay in and play, I never wanted to come out. But, I also realized just how important substitute players were. Fresh players who were ready to go helped us to win games. I stress this physical story today because I want us to understand a spiritual story of just how important in our Christian lives there is for Substitution. We desperately need a substitute to stand in for us and our sin and this is forever eternally important!
The entire storyline of Scripture, the history of redemption, is the story of God providing substitutes for his people to cover their shame and bear the judgment they deserved so that they might be accepted by him. That alone is a story of undeserved grace and amazing love. But all along, God’s plan and purpose was not only to provide that substitute, but to be that substitute in the person of his Son Jesus. Jesus came and took on himself the punishment we could not bear and the shame we could not overcome. This story is a passionate expression of God’s love. It is the pinnacle of God’s glory. Over the next several weeks we are going to look at several different stories in God’s Word about Substitution.
Everything begins in Genesis 3. God had said that the day Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. And God was true to his word. When they disobeyed, they died spiritually, under the curse of God. But they didn’t die physically, at least not right away. Instead, two animals died, and God used their skins to fashion clothes to cover the shame of their nakedness (Gen 3:21). Nowhere is the language of sacrifice or substitution used, but the picture is unmistakable. Substitutes died physically to cover Adam and Eve’s physical shame. This is so important today because there are so many folks who carry around shame and guilt.
Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, the substitution of an animal sacrifice stood at the center of Israel’s relationship with God. On the basis of those sacrifices, shame was covered and guilt removed. Because the animal took the punishment the people deserved, they not only lived another day but were accepted by God. Until the next time they sinned. Until the next Day of Atonement. Then the process would have too be repeated. But, there is a huge problem. The problem is that they were ineffective. “In the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:3–4).
And yet, substitutes were what God had been providing from the beginning. From the death of animals to cover Adam and Eve’s shameful nakedness, to the substitute for Isaac as we will look at next week, to the unblemished Passover lamb and the Temple sacrifices. These were partial, temporary, and ultimately ineffective substitutes that were meant by God to teach us something. They were types and shadows of the perfect substitute that was to come. Isaiah spoke of this subsequent substitute in Isaiah 53. One whose blood could take away sin and cover shame. One whose death could secure the acceptance of God’s people once and for all.
1 Peter 2:24 ESV
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 3:18 ESV
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
3 Things that I want you to notice today!

1. Notice The Problem.

Genesis 3:8–13 ESV
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So why do we even need a substitute? Well because there is a huge problem! What I am talking about is a SIN Problem.
One of the things that is often hard for us as humans to admit is the fact that we are sinners. We all have a sin problem, and we cannot atone for our own sin. Our sin is so terrible and wicked that we all deserve hell. That is how bad our sin truly is.
Romans 6:23 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Even our good works are as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Because our sin is so awful it needs to be atoned for. In fact, one of the dominant pictures in the Old Testament is that of an innocent substitute whose blood was shed on behalf of our sin. The author of Hebrews says it like this.
Hebrews 9:22 ESV
22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
The thing of the matter is that there is no sinner who can work his way to heaven, or ever fully atone for his or her own sin. And this is exactly why God’s Word so often stresses the need for a substitute.
So, we see here in theses beginning verses that God comes to Adam and Eve. In fact, the sound in verse 8 was more than likely God calling for Adam and Eve. In verse 9 we see this as God calls to the man and asks the simple question, “Where are you?” So, where were Adam and Eve?
-Notice the first thing we see here about Sin. Sin causes us to hide. We see this in verses 8 and then again in verse 10. The question that God asked them was a way of bringing man to explain exactly why he and his wife were hiding. So often when we choose to sin there are things that come along with that. There is shame, remorse, guilt, and even fear (vs. 10). These are all things that lead to our running away from God and trying to hide.
Adam’s sin was clearly evident now because he realized that both he and his wife were naked, so God waited for man to confess what he had done. When it comes to our sin, there is generally a reluctance to admit or confess the sin problem at hand. I want you to understand this today because repentance is main issue here! When sinners refuse to repent, they will suffer judgment, but when they do repent, they will receive forgiveness. We all need to know that today.
-The second thing we now see about sin is this. Sin causes us to blame others. (vs. 12) Adam now tries to put the responsibility on God for giving him Eve. This only made Adam look worse. Adam choose to willfully go against God’s command not to eat of tree’s fruit. He was not open to confess his sin and take full responsibility for his action.
-Finally, I want you to sin this third area about sin. Sin deceives. (vs. 13.) The serpent deceived Eve. He was crafty enough to make her believe the lie that she would become like God if she ate of the fruit, and so she did. Eve, now tries to pass the blame to the serpent, which was partially true, but this did not absolve her from her lack of trust and disobedience towards God. Sin deceives us, it makes us think things are not that bad or that it’s not really even wrong. We see this happening in our world today. Watch out for the deceivement of sin!

2. Notice The Punishment For Sin.

“The Serpent”
Genesis 3:14–15 ESV
14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Clearly the snake was crafty and sneaky here. He was so craft that he deceived Eve into eating the fruit and thus sin entered into the world for the very first time. Because of this there were consequences and punishment beginning with the serpent. Notice several of the punishments. First the serpent is now cursed. In fact, he is the most cursed of all the animals and because of this he must now crawl on his belly. We have no idea but up to this point the serpent could have had legs or even wings but from then on the serpent would be branded as low and disgusting and would slither around. We also see that the punishment of the serpent is that he will eat dust. This expressing here means total defeat. After God had cursed the physical serpent He now turns to the spiritual serpent (which is Satan or the Devil) Satan was the lying seducer that ultimately caused Eve to believe the lie and eat of the fruit. We see this language used, “bruise your head, and bruise His heal. What does this mean??? The descendant of Eve which later on in history will be Christ will defeat Satan once and for all, in other words Christ will bruise or crush Satan. The only thing Satan could do was bruise His heal or cause Christ to suffer.
Romans 16:20 ESV
20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
This was the punishment of the physical and spiritual serpent!
“The Woman
Genesis 3:16 ESV
16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
The first punishment we see here is that in conception. From then on there would be a constant reminder in the pain of child birth. The other punishment we addressed several weeks ago was that the woman’s desire is contrary to her husband (to rule) but he shall rule over her. Because of the sin and the curse, the man and the woman will face struggles in their own relationship. Husbands and Wives will need God’s help in getting along as a result.
“The Man”
Genesis 3:17–19 ESV
17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We now turn to Adam. We know that Adam turned his back on God’s voice, to follow his wife in eating that which God ordered him not to eat of. The woman sinned because she acted independently of her husband and choose not to follow his leadership, counsel, and protection. Adam sinned by giving up his leadership to follow the wishes of his wife.
The punishment for man was from now on the ground is cursed. Before this time God gave man and woman food to eat and there was no hard work involved. So, from here on the ground would produce thorns and weeds which would bring difficult work. There would be pain and weariness and sweat would make life difficult. Adam would from then on have to work hard for food.
But ultimately the more severe punishment for both Adam and Eve was that of death. We see this here in verse 19. “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Man by his sin became mortal. Although Adam and Eve did not die at the moment they sinned, they did eventually die. Adam lived to be 930 years. (Genesis 5:5)

3. Notice The Substitute.

Genesis 3:20–21 ESV
20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
What we now see here in these final verses is that Adam and Eve, those bearing the guilt of sin are covering themselves with animal skins. Why? Because for the very first time they realized that they were naked and so God covers them with these skins. God himself demonstrated this when he killed animals to use their skins to cover the fallen couple. This was a very graphic object lesson showing that only God can provide a suitable covering for sin, and that the shedding of blood is necessary. What is so interesting here about Adam and Eve’s sin is the fact that the first physical deaths should have been Adam and Eve, but it was an animal which was a shadow that God would someday kill a substitute to redeem sinners.
I want you to know today that God provided the perfect substitute to take our place. God gave us a substitute so that we don’t have to carry around guilt, shame, worry, and fear. Let me ask you today, has there come a time in your life where you have recognized that you need a substitute? Like Adam and Eve we are sinners in need of a Savior. As your pastor I must tell you today that unless you call upon the Lord Jesus and confess your sin to him you will spend an eternity in the lake of fire. I don’t tell you this to scare you but help you realize your need for God and to repent of your sin and turn to Christ. My prayer is that you will do this today.
Romans 10:13 ESV
13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Pray and Lead into Communion)
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