When introducing people to the cross of Jesus it’s very common to hear this objection:
“Hang on! If you’re saved from judgement by Jesus’ sacrifice, won’t you just keep on wallowing in sin? Doesn’t the cross mean that Christians will be complacent about sin and go on indulging in it?”
Actually the opposite is true. Jesus doesn’t save us for sin, He saves us from sin. And here’s how. He doesn’t just die for us, He also rises to new life for us.
Or to put it in Exodus terms. We don’t just enjoy a Passover, we also experience a Red Sea. We’re not just sheltered under the blood of the Lamb, we’re also brought out of the land of slavery.
Those who benefited from the sacrificial lamb were also those who left Egypt.
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. (Exodus 12:11)
The lamb was not given so that God’s people could enjoy Egypt. It was given to bring them out. Any who said ‘Yes’ to the substitutionary sacrifice were also saying ‘No’ to the old life.
And the LORD makes sure they are brought out with a one-way ticket, once and for all. He leads them by his chosen ruler Moses to the waters of the Red Sea.
It’s important to note that “waters” in the Bible very often represent judgement. And this particular stretch of water certainly proves to be a ravenous grave for the Egyptians (Exodus 15:12).
But “by a strong east wind” called down by Moses the waters are parted (Exodus 14:21). This phrase – “strong east wind” – might as well be translated “Mighty Ancient Spirit”. It calls to mind Genesis 1 where the Spirit hovered over the waters and the Word parted them, making a safe space for man.
So here is the picture: through God’s chosen ruler and by the Ancient Spirit the impossible is made possible – God’s people are led out of slavery through the waters of judgement and into a new life.
The Apostle Paul looks back at this event as a baptism of sorts (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). The people were baptized into Moses. The people couldn’t get themselves out of slavery. They couldn’t get themselves through the deserved judgement and out the other side. But, by the power of the Spirit, Moses could. And so they threw their lot in with Moses. They were united to him and went with him through the waters and into newness of life.
It’s the same with us today. Just as they were baptized into Moses, we are baptized into Jesus.
And in union with our Spirit-filled Ruler we are not simply Passover people – united to Jesus’ death. We’re also Red Sea people – united to Jesus’ resurrection. We don’t glory in the cross while bedding down in sin. We are brought out from sin into a risen life. By the Spirit we have followed Jesus out of the darkness and slavery of our spiritual Egypt.
Therefore the Apostle Paul writes this:
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. (Romans 6:1-4)