“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thess. 5:23
Here we find Paul’s confidence in the promise that God shall preserve the entire spirit, soul, and body of His elect. The spirit and soul of man go into the presence of God immediately when the saints’ die here in this world. The body will then be glorified and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ at His second coming. Notice another aspect of the final state of our spirit, soul, and body – we shall be “blameless”.
To understand the beauty and blessing of being finally conformed to a “blameless” image, we have to recognize that in our nature we are fully guilty of blame. Adam’s transgression in the garden offended God’s law and sin entered into the world – “for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Adam, and therefore all of Adam’s posterity, is now “with blame”, guilty of offense of God’s law and guilty of the penalty of transgression of God’s law which is death (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 6:23). Blame is defined as: “to charge with fault, to be worthy of censure and punishment”. All of mankind is now justly charged with fault before God, justly blamed for offense of God’s law, and justly worthy of censure and punishment. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” (Rom. 5:12,18).
The intervening work of Jesus Christ on the behalf of the elect is the only means by which blame is removed from our “spiritual rap sheet”. The offense and blame of our guilty verdict of breaking God’s law is expunged from our judicial record before God. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Col. 2:14) Blame was not removed by a pardon from the judge’s bench. A pardon would indicate that one is still guilty but they are relieved from having to suffer the full punishment of their crime. Rather, our blame was transferred from our account to Jesus’ account. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross blotted out the record of our offenses before God.
Jesus Christ took the full blame and fault and sin of His people upon Himself and paid the price of that blame in full. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed… and the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6) The penalty for this blame was death, and Jesus suffered and died that our blame would be removed from our account. Our blame was removed before God because Jesus Christ fully paid the penalty of God’s wrath for our blame and fault. “For 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 Cor. 5:21)
The evidence of our blame before God –“the hand-writing of the ordinances that was against us”– has now been “blotted out” and “taken out of the way” by the reconciling death of Jesus Christ on the cross (Col. 2:14). There are no charges against the elect before God eternally because that penalty has been paid in full by Jesus Christ. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” (Rom. 8:33) We have now been made righteous and without blame before God. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 8:1)
One aspect of the final destiny of God’s elect that God predestinated before the world began is that “we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4). Obviously, for us to be “holy” before God our blame had to of necessity be removed. Since our charges have then been removed being paid in full by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, we now stand “without blame” legally before God. Furthermore, our fault is removed before God as well. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Considering all the times that I know I have been justly blamed and at fault here in this world for my shortcomings, what a blessed thought to finally be able to stand before a holy God as “blameless” and “faultless” and with no charges and with no condemnation. We are justly guilty of blame in our sinful nature, but our eternal blame has been removed only by the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Originally published December 2016