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BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD—NOT JOHN 

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (JOH 1:29)

Notice, in context, the Jews, scribes and the Pharisees were questioning John about his calling and about who he was; and how John the Baptist was directing their attention away from himself and unto the Christ. They were not to look unto him, he was but a voice, that proclaimed the word. He came to proclaim the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was telling them, "Behold the Lamb of God." They were not to have their eyes fixed on John the Baptist, they were to look upon the Lord Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

Although John the Baptist clearly stands out most conspicuously in our chapter, in the Gospel of John, the Lord's forerunner is brought forth in an entirely different manner than in the other three gospels. In the Gospel of John, the lesson we learn from John the Baptist is much different.

There is no mention of his raiment of "camel's hair," that he had "a leathern girdle about his loins," nor that "his meat was locusts and wild honey." (MAT 3:4) The Gospel of John, also, makes no mention of his stern call to repentance.

In the other three gospels, every mention of John begins with how he came to preach the baptism of repentance. This is not mentioned in the Gospel of John, nor that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

The message of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John, pertaining to John the Baptist, is a different message. The emphasis is clearly a rebuke against the Pharisaical, self-centered spirit that reigned in the church at that time.

If you understand the history of the church, it had come through Babylon, through many different stages, and had come to the time of Christ. We see how they have now taken in much of the heathen suspicions, superstitions, and philosophies, and how the central theme of their whole religion was the exalting of man.

The Lord Jesus centered His pointed rebukes against the scribes and Pharisees in His time, "But all their works they do for to be seen of men." (MAT 23:5a) You see where the central rebuke of the Lord Jesus Christ comes against the scribes and Pharisees, against the church leaders.

They are coming to John the Baptist and wanting his credentials. "Tell me your calling and conversion, then I’ll pass judgment whether or not you have a call," in effect is what they’re doing to him. What John the Baptist is telling them is, "Don’t look at me; don’t look at the channel through which the gospel is coming to you; but look unto the Lamb of God; the Lamb of God is where your eyes must be focused upon."

But the Pharisees, in their day were different, "all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." (MAT 23:5-7)

John the Baptist was coming with a completely different approach. He was "the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord." (JOH 1:23) He was but a voice, there was nothing in him to be seen, he was wearing a "leathern girdle," he didn’t have all this show, he was wearing clothes of camel’s hair, he ate the meat of locusts and wild honey. There was nothing about the appearance of John the Baptist to catch the human eye, and this is what the Pharisees found as such a stumbling block. If he were the forerunner of the expected Messiah, whom they thought was going to come and restore the kingdom of Israel, with great pomp and majesty, yet he claims nothing for himself? Do you see what a stumbling block this was for the scribes and Pharisees?

The problem was not in the fringes of their garments. It says in MAT 23:5 how they made large borders and enlarged these borders. That was not their problem. See the difference between a heart religion and a Pharisaical religion, which meets the eye, gets the applause of men, and conforms to the letter of the law. What the Lord wants is a heart religion. Their problem was not in the fact that they put borders on their garments. Their problem was in their attitude of how they presented these borders.

Look what the Lord commanded with regard to these fringes in NUM 15:38-39a, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD…"

They’re not only putting on the borders, but they’re enlarging them, making a big show of it. For the border, the channel, becomes the object of observation rather than the purpose for which they are there.

Watch what the Lord says, "It shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes." (NUM 15:39)

See how their attitude had totally perverted the purpose of these borders? The purpose of these borders was that they would have ever before them a reminder, to remember and do the commandments. "That ye seek not after you own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." (NUM 15:39b-40)

That was the purpose of those borders, but their attitude was wrong. It was to gain the praises of men. That by these borders they would appear unto men to be righteous and holy. They were the ones who were "doing the will of God." That was the meaning of those borders.

Watch what we read in MAT 23:27-28, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

Do you see what the Lord is telling us? They put these fringes on to appear unto men that they were really seeking after the will of God and doing the will of God. They’re appearing unto men to be righteous, but their hearts are filled with iniquity, hypocrisy, and all uncleanness. Their hearts are compared to a coffin of dead men’s bones, with all manner of corruption and defilement. They had a religion to be seen of men and be something.

Do you see why John the Baptist was such a stumbling block? John the Baptist was not trying to make himself something, he was wearing a garment of camel’s hair, a leathern girdle, he was eating wild honey and locusts. When they asked him for his calling, "Who are you?" he said, "I’m only a voice. Nothing to be seen. A voice that has come for one purpose and that is to declare, ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ Don’t look at me, don’t look at the flesh, don’t look at the channel, but Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

At the time of Christ's coming the Jewish church state had slid into a grievous state of blindness and ignorance of what the prophets had taught about the true character of the Messiah. The true character of the Messiah was that He was as a sheep led to the slaughter. He was as a lamb that was placed on the altar as a sacrifice. He was nothing that would attract the natural eye. They were looking for a Messiah that would come with more pomp and pride than what they had. They misunderstood the true character of the Messiah that was taught by their own prophets.

Even Christ's own disciples, at the time that He was ascending up into Heaven, did not understand the true Messiah or the true nature of His kingdom.

ACT 1:6 says, "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" They were still looking for a natural kingdom, an earthly kingdom, and they were still looking for the kingdom to be restored and to remove the yoke of Rome.

The words of our text, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," clearly reveals John the Baptist was attempting to preach and teach the urgent need for looking away from temporal things.

See how the Lord Jesus answered that question in ACT 1:9, "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up…." It was while He answered that question, "wilt thou [now] restore…the kingdom," that He was "received…out of their sight." It wasn’t until the day of Pentecost that the apostles understood the kingdom of Christ, that they really understood His first coming.

John the Baptist was attempting to teach the urgent need of looking away from temporal things. This is what we have to see of the teaching of the Holy Spirit pertaining to John the Baptist in the Gospel of John.

The word behold, "Behold the Lamb of God", comes from the root word eido (i'-do) in the Greek. It means, "to see, to be aware of, to consider, to take knowledge of, to be sure of, to understand, or to take notice of." When he says, "Behold the Lamb of God," he is saying, "Take notice of the Lamb of God; learn to understand; be aware of."

Be aware of what? He was the sacrifice, the true sacrifice. He was the true Lamb of God, which was the sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

The coming of the Messiah was so misunderstood. The inquiries of the scribes and Pharisees in JOH 1:20-22, clearly reveal that they were referring to the prophecies of the coming Messiah. In JOH 1:21, they’re asking him, "but art thou Elias? Art thou that forerunner?"

Now look at MAL 4:5-6, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

When asked, in JOH 1:22, "Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?" John the Baptist confounded them with his humility. In other words, "if you’re not the Messiah, you’re not the Elias, then who are you?" What did he say? "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." (JOH 1:23) In other words, he was nothing to be seen and there was nothing there to promote. "Don’t follow me because I have a great calling, I’m only a voice, and it is the voice that is declaring that precious Lamb of God." He says, "Behold the Lamb of God. Don’t fix your eyes upon me or upon my calling, or who I am: fix your eye upon the precious sacrifice of the Father who is come to take away the sins of the world."

For our first point, let's consider how John's humility was the Pharisee's stumbling block.

For our second point, let's consider the Pharisee's blindness, and what they expected in the Messiah.

For our third point, let's consider the blessed truth of the gospel in John's exclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

With reference to John the Baptist as His forerunner, our Saviour is teaching a principle as he says in MAT 11:11, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…" Do you know who all that includes? That includes Moses, Abraham, and every one of the patriarchs whom the Pharisees and the scribes were holding in worship. He says that there’s no one greater than John the Baptist that was born of women.

Yet, see the rebuke that Jesus gave the church against any self-exaltation for the greatness in our calling, for whatever great calling we may have, "notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (MAT 11:11b)

The point is, we don’t worship a person for his calling. Even John the Baptist, with a powerful prophecy that told of his calling, and the fulfilling of his calling, and as he stood on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Christ, was the greatest of those born of women. "Notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (MAT 11:11b)

How did the ministry of John the Baptist come to a conclusion? Have you ever thought about that? When he had fulfilled his mission he was put in prison, he was beheaded, taken away, buried, and rejected of men. There wasn’t one thing about John the Baptist that gained any prestige in his day.

John's humility was the Pharisee's stumbling block. They were in a total state of confusion after John had refused to take any honor to himself and having denied that he was the Christ.

JOH 1:24-25 says, "And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?" "Where’s your calling? By what authority are you doing this? Who gave you your commission?" When John was asked, "What sayest thou of thyself?" he only referred to himself as a voice, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness...."

In His humility John did not refer to himself as this or that great prophet, yet he employed the very term that the Holy Spirit had used to describe his official capacity. He, by using "as sayest Esaias the prophet," thereby told them who he was. He referred to ISA 40:3, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD…" This was his calling, to preach repentance for remission of sins. It says, "make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (ISA 40:3b) How did he make straight a highway? By preaching repentance for remission of sins.

John has just confessed in JOH 1:20 that he was not the Christ. Christ is The Word spoken. John was not the Christ, he was just the voice who spoke the word. The object of John’s mission, and the purpose of his ministry, was to bear witness of "The Word."

JOH 1:6-7, "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." John didn’t come for recognition, John came only to be a witness, to be a testimony of that light which was the true gospel message.

The voice is to be heard and not seen! John's heart’s desire was to take men's eyes off from himself that they might listen to his God-given message. He didn’t wear these broad fringes on his garments to be seen of men, or to give men the impression that he was a righteous man. His whole message was, "Behold the Lamb of God. [Don’t fix your eye on flesh, or on a man. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’,] which taketh away the sin of the world."

What does it mean that John was "a voice in the wilderness?" (JOH 1:23) Why didn't John cry in the temple? Have you ever thought about that? Why was it that he was in the wilderness, "a voice of one crying in the wilderness;" that didn’t come to Jerusalem and that he wasn’t proclaiming this message in the Temple?

Jehovah was no longer there. God would not own the self-righteous formalism of the Jews. Therefore God sent John to preach outside of the religious systems and the circles of the day. The Lord did not send John to preach in the Temple. The Lord did not convert the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees. He sent His apostles to bring His people out from among them. Why? The Lord was no longer there.

Have you ever thought about revival? During the Reformation, why was it that the Lord didn’t cause the Pope to become converted? The Reformation brought His people out from among them. When you watch these main-line denominations, as they gain momentum, some prominent, powerful, preacher, becomes the center of their esteem, and the end result is what? They apostatize just like the scribes and Pharisees did and the end result is the Lord will send another revival. And what does He do? He takes His people out from among them, and they go on to apostasy…it is history repeating itself, over, and over.

This was why the Pharisees were challenging John's right to preach and baptize, because he wasn’t coming to Jerusalem, he wasn’t preaching in the Temple, He was preaching in the wilderness. JOH 1:25 says, "And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?"

This "voice in the wilderness" symbolizes the spiritual barrenness and the ignorance of the Jewish nation. He was crying in the wilderness, "make straight the ways of our God." This is how the gospel proceeds. If you read the history of the Book of Acts, you see how the apostles would go to the synagogues and reason with the Jews. Those Jews that were converted came out and attended their meetings. It was not the Jews in the synagogue that was converted. It was not that the synagogue became the church, the church was built alongside of the synagogues. Then who were the main attendants? The Gentiles.

For our second point, let's consider the Pharisee's blindness, and what they expected in the Messiah.

The first thing the Pharisees failed to recognize was the significance of the place where John was baptizing. See their ignorance and what they failed to recognize.

JOH 1:28 says, "These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing." Bethabara (spoken of in JDG 7:24) was a ferry-house on the bank of the River Jordan, where the ferries were conveying across Jordan.

This passage was so named to signify our passage over the River Jordan into the promised land, that is, our passage from death unto life. Where was he baptizing? At Bethabara. And what Bethabara signifies is repentance. The passage whereby we go out of the things of this life, and we transfer into the things of eternal value. The passage from death unto life.

Look at LUK 3:3, "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Repentance is a change of attitude, a change of heart, a transition from death unto life; and he was preaching baptism of repentance. This passage is what Jesus referred to in JOH 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

John had separated himself from the legalistic system of his day, preaching the baptism of repentance. Bethabara was pointing to the transfer from death unto life. He was preaching the baptism of repentance.

What is baptism? Being marked for death. In other words, he was baptizing in the Jordan, the symbol of death. Death unto sin, death unto self, death unto everything of this life, marking "death", upon everything of the flesh. A baptism of repentance for remission of sin.

Can you separate repentance from remission of sin? We cannot have claim on a remission of sins outside of repentance. The blindness of the scribes and Pharisees was they had no knowledge of repentance. Jesus compared their hearts unto whited SEPULCHRES. Their hearts were never changed; they were strictly observing the letter of the law, they were being seen of men. John the Baptist came to preach a change of attitude, desiring to preach heart religion. He came to preach the baptism of repentance for remission of sins. Because of the blindness of the scribes and Pharisees, they never understood the spirit of the law, nor their need for repentance and a new heart.

MAT 3:5-7 says, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. [Confessing their sins goes together with being baptized.] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"

He said, "shew me fruits worthy of repentance." He wanted to see repentance before he would allow them to be baptized, because it was a baptism of repentance for remission of sins.

The Pharisees were blind to John's commission to preach repentance as the preparation for the gospel message of our text. What does the gospel message of our text mean to a person who has never repented of sin? What does the gospel message of "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," mean to any person that still loves and cherishes sin? That still loves the uppermost seat in the synagogue? That loves to have the praises of men? That has never known repentance? That has never known what it is to humble ourselves unto death, even the death of the cross? To take up our cross and crucify that old man of sin? What is there in such news, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," which takes away your chief joy and your chief pleasure? What good news is there in such a gospel? Until there’s repentance, a sorrowing and remorse for having sinned against the love of God, there is no joy in the message, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

For our third point, let's consider the blessed truth of the gospel in John's exclamation, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

The Pharisees were looking for a Prophet, they were looking for a Messiah with an earthly kingdom, but they never asked about the sacrifice of God. They never asked about the symbol which they regularly offered in the priest's office! When they had done the daily sacrifice, putting the lamb on the altar, they never asked about the true Messiah who would come to make that official sacrifice. They never understood what they were doing. They never even understood the sacrifice that they were symbolizing with their daily offering. They did it regularly in the priest’s office.

The voice that could be heard "crying in the wilderness" was such a strong rebuke to the Pharisees, whose whole religion centered around being seen, centered around self and around being exalted in this world. They saw a strong rebuke in such a gospel, "Behold the Lamb of God." This is why they could not receive the gospel that centered all their attention to "Behold the Lamb of God." It would totally undo their whole religion and everything they stood for. They had the altars of God, they knew the law, they were the doctors of the law and they were the ones that understood! The only problem was all they understood was their own philosophy and their own interpretation of the word of God. They did not understand the Spirit of the Word. They did not understand that the Messiah was to come and sacrifice Himself upon the altar of burnt offering, and that that sacrifice would be the appeasing of God’s wrath upon their corrupt sin.

The forerunner of Christ announced Him as "The Lamb of God," not as "the King of Israel." He didn’t come to announce the coming of the King of Israel. He came to announce the coming of that atonement, of that appeasing of the wrath of God, how the wrath of God should now be appeased as it came down, as the fire of His wrath would come down upon His own Son to appease His wrath upon sin.

The Holy Spirit was revealing the Lord Jesus to Israel in the very office and character in which they stood in their deepest need of Him. When the Holy Spirit laid upon the heart of John to say, "Behold the Lamb of God," there was the office and the character that they needed of Him. They needed to be delivered from their sin, but their rebellion and their pride was never broken.

The Jews could have welcomed Jesus on the throne, but first and foremost is "The Lamb of God." Before the Lord Jesus would be known and understood upon the throne, He must first be known and understood as the sacrifice that is appeasing God’s wrath upon our sin. This is where the Jews, scribes and Pharisees had so totally misunderstood the coming of the Messiah.

In 2 CO 5:21 it says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin…." This is where there’s beauty in the precious Son of God. If we don’t understand sin or the true nature of sin, there is no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. They never understood the sin of their own heart nor the character and the nature of their sin. They never understood the character and the nature of God nor the appeasing of God’s wrath by the Lamb of God.

This is why they never understood "…he hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 CO 5:21) The true message of the gospel is the doctrine of reconciliation. When you take notice of 2 CO 5:18-21, it is speaking of reconciliation, and it is by His being made sin for us that we can now be reconciled unto God. That’s how God was reconciling Himself unto the world, not imputing their trespasses unto them. It was by His holy Son being made sin for us, by Him being placed on the altar of sacrifice, and by the wrath of the Father coming down, and burning upon His own Son instead of upon our sins. The scribes and the Pharisees had no knowledge of this, even though they went through the ritual of these things in their daily sacrifices.

Until we have learned to see Christ as "the Lamb of God" there will never be a right attitude toward sin nor toward true repentance. Until we have learned to see something of how God’s wrath came down upon His own Son, to appease His wrath upon our sin, to see how He came under the wrath of the Father as an act of His own obedience, until we learn to understand how He came to satisfy the law with perfect obedience, and that the Father, rather than leave one sin unpunished, would rather bring His wrath down upon His own Son, we’ll never understand the true nature of sin, and we’ll never have a right attitude toward repentance. Repentance is a change of attitude, and our attitudes toward sin will never be right until we understand the price that was paid for sin.

So where does the gospel begin? In MAT 4:17, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That was the first proclamation of the gospel from our Saviour’s mouth. "Repent," was the first word of the gospel.

Take the Gospel of Luke (I’ve often thought about this), in chapter 24 verses 44 and 45, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."

The disciples were too blind to understand the meaning of His sacrifice. He showed them His hands and His feet; He said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones." (LUK 24:39) "…Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached…" (LUK 24:46-47)

Where does the preaching of the gospel begin? "…Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (LUK 24:47) This is where the gospel begins, and do you understand repentance without understanding the true character of sin? Do you understand repentance without understanding the true sacrifice, without beholding "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world?" You will never have a right understanding of being reconciled with God until you understand the true character and nature of sin.

Abraham saw the "Lamb of God" by faith when he was commanded to offer up his son, Isaac. Abraham understood that the Messiah was symbolized by a lamb offered on the altar, "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together." (GEN 22:8)

Abraham understood that the true sacrifice was a lamb and there was going to be a burnt offering. He understood that the fire of the burnt offering was to symbolize the fire of God’s wrath coming down upon his substitute. Isaiah prophesied that the sacrificial lamb was "the Lamb of God" in the person of Christ in ISA 53:7, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…."

These prophecies of the Messiah were not understood by those chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. Their vision of a Messiah had nothing to do with the prophecies that they were supposed to be the teachers of. They were so blind, they had not the faintest conception of the true Lamb of God. "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…." They should have known that when they placed that burnt offering on the altar, that they were typifying the Messiah.

The title, "The Lamb of God," points to His sinlessness and perfection in 1 PE 1:18-19, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

When there was a burnt offering, it had to be a lamb without blemish and without spot. This was to symbolize that He had no sin of His own, that He was without spot, and without a blemish. But yet He was there to make that perfect sacrifice. The beholding "of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," is what these chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees should have been so well aware of. When he said, "Behold the Lamb of God," they should have instantly understood: they were the ones who were the doctors of the law.

The title "The Lamb of God" points to His meekness, submission, humility, and obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. ISA 53:7 says, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." See the humility and how the prophecies pointed to His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. He made not one attempt to defend Himself. He was there doing the will of His Father.

Jesus coming to be "...the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," could only be accomplished by His death. This is how the prophecies had portrayed Him.

HEB 9:13-14 says, "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

The apostles’ ministry was again a rebuke to these dead works, to this hypocritical working in the flesh, serving God in the flesh. He said, "How…shall [not] the blood of Christ…purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God," in other words, with a change of heart and attitude.

Until we learn to rightly understand what it is to "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," we will never fathom true repentance toward God. You can not separate these two. As you analyze repentance, it is a true remorse over sin. You must ponder the Lamb of God, the sacrifice, God’s wrath upon sin, and then understand the love of God in giving His Son and the love of the Son in giving Himself.

Look in ROM 6:10-11, to understand repentance, "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [There’s true repentance.] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

"Likewise reckon ye," before you can rightly reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, we have to understand what it is. "For in that he died, he died unto sin," that He died to take away the sins of the world, and until we rightly understand that, we’ll never understand what it is to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin. That makes sin become exceeding sinful and hateful.

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (ROM 6:12) This is true repentance, sorrowing for and turning from sin. A legal repentance has much remorse over the consequences of sin, but it never leads to turning from sin. Cain never turned from sin, King Saul never turned from sin, Judas Iscariot never turned from sin, and yet they had much remorse over their sin because of its consequences. But a true gospel repentance is a remorse over having offended God and it is seeing the sinfulness of sin and turning from sin.

John's baptism in the River Jordan was a confession of their worthiness of death. When you were baptized, placed under the water, you were writing "death" upon self, upon sin, upon flesh, upon all of the world. It is a confession of our worthiness of death. It is being buried with Christ in baptism, dying unto sin.

MAT 3:5-6 says, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." Baptism is a confession of sin.

Being baptized into Christ's death precedes His resurrection benefits. We are not able to claim the benefits of the resurrection of Christ until we have been baptized into His death, and being baptized into His death is to become dead to sin.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (ROM 6:1-4) Are we going to enjoy His resurrection benefits before we have been buried with Him in death, to become dead to sin? Are you going to walk in newness of life before you have been delivered from the power of sin? No.

"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (ROM 6:5) What was the likeness of His death? He died once unto sin. Until you and I know what that is, to die unto sin, we’ll never know what it is to be raised unto that newness of life. We may have an outward religion, or a Pharisee religion, but our heart will be no wiser and no better than that of the scribes and Pharisees.

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (ROM 6:6)

It is when we have come to see and understand and to "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," that we learn to understand what it is to be delivered from the power of sin.

Our text says in JOH 1:29, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." There’s the gospel message that goes forth to each one of us. Behold (learn to take notice of, learn to observe) that Lamb of God, that sacrifice that was placed upon the altar, where the wrath of God came down upon His own Son to appease His wrath for sin. That is how He takes away the sin of the world, if we’re going to understand true repentance, salvation, and what it is to be delivered from sin and what it is that He died once unto sin. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (ROM 6:10-11) Amen.


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