God Doesn't Need Blood to Forgive Your Sin

God Doesn’t Need Blood to Forgive Your Sins!

If you grew up Christian like me you’ve probably heard a fair few sermons on the importance of the blood of Jesus.

You probably know all too well that God needs blood to forgive.

But praise God that God Himself in the person of Jesus came to shed that blood. To pay the price!

We have been coated in the blood of Jesus!

Amen! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Or so I used to think.

(I feel sick at the thought today looking back. But I don’t know if I could be who I am today without taking that path and God is OK with us not having all our beliefs about Him perfect so I’ll put that to the side and move on.)

You see, I’ve come to see a different perspective on the cross in recent years. Not a new one. No this view has been around long before there was a cross.

A view that doesn’t relish in blood and sacrifice. A view that believes God might possibly be big enough to forgive without killing or covering things in blood.

My prayer is that you might also in time come to see this view as well…

Jesus is not a blood sacrifice

In Jesus we see the end of the concept of blood sacrifices that please God. We find out that God has NEVER been pleased with blood sacrifices.

God desires not death but life.

The sacrifice God desires from us is that we die to self, let go of our ego, and instead submit ourselves to God’s desires.

As Paul said – “It’s no longer I who live but Christ in me”

Or Jesus modelled – “Not My will but yours Father”

Look at the context of Romans 12:

“…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We must let go of the idea of shedding blood to earn forgiveness.

We might quote Hebrews 9:22 but the truth is we only quote part of it.

It doesn’t say “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

It says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

This isn’t just in the New Testament

What’s amazing about this is it’s not just a New Testament idea. It’s finalised and forged in the NT through the work of the cross and the teaching of the apostles. But it’s also all throughout the OT!

(take time to read these – I know we all like to skim the Bible bits in blogs but trust me – this stuff will shock you)

Psalm 51:16-17 says, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

Jeremiah 7:21-23 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “…For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’”

(Jeremiah 7 is the passage that Jesus quotes as He is clearing out the temple. This is a very important point that we often miss in our sacrificial loving system. So much so we twist His prophetic act to be the ultimate proof that even Jesus is violent!)

Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings… But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Micah 6:6-8 says, “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

How did we miss it?

I don’t know. Israel (aside from the odd prophet it would seem) missed it for centuries as well. Jesus’s disciples missed it too until He came back from the dead and explained it to them. And much of the Church has missed it too!

We still today twist the Bible to promote sacrifice as God’s only way of forgiveness. Jesus is not seen as He ought to be, as the ultimate statement that God is against sacrifice. Instead, we teach Jesus as though He is the ultimate sacrifice!

Christians are supposed to be condemning the notion that God can’t forgive freely. We are supposed to be the voice that condemns false gods who need blood to forgive.

Instead however we have become one of the strongest voices of a god obsessed with blood. Whose hands are tied and who must see blood shed for Him to possibly consider forgiving a trespass.

I raise my hands to say I have been just as guilty of promoting this false gospel myself. Of telling the world about this false god. Of telling the world that their way is correct and that our God simply has the best method of fixing things with bloodshed.

This god is an idol.

An idol built on our own desire for punishment, violence, power, control, and a warped sense of justice that is punitive not restorative.

I refuse to embrace the notion that God needs bloodshed and violence to forgive. If we are called by God to forgive those who wrong us without bloodshed and violence how on Earth do we think that God can’t!

Is God subject to some higher god who makes the rules?

Is there someone dictating how God gets to forgive and just how much mercy He has?

Of course not!

So lets stop boxing God in with such anti-Christ notions!

Let’s let God be a God who looks like Jesus.

Because let’s face it, whether we do or not…

God looks like Jesus, because Jesus is God.

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10 Comments

  1. If that is the case what then is the essence of Christ coming and his miraculous death?
    What then does the bible means when it calls us a purchased possession?

    • Hey, this is a great question. Frankly there are dozens of things going on at the cross… to me stating that “earning forgiveness” isn’t one of them still leaves others in play. It’s Christ co-suffering with us. It’s God absorbing the full wrath of humanity upon Himself and forgiving it. It’s God taking the sin of the world upon Himself and not holding it against them. It’s God becoming a part of the mechanism of scapegoating, being a victim like Abel but having His blood cry out for forgiveness rather than vengeance. I could go on of course… like I said the list is rather endless. That’s why we have so many atonement theories anyway. Moral, Government, Ransom, Christus Victor, Penal Sub, Sub, Mimetic etc. This small part I shared would be compatible with many of the atonement theories the only one it really doesn’t work with is Sub/Penal Sub. Which of course is a shame given that is the default teaching of most of protestants.

      If you are interested in diving deeper there is a great book on the topic opening up the cross in light of some of the stuff I’ve shared in this blog. It’s Mark Heim’s Saved From Sacrifice. I’ll be blogging about this more and will eventually have a whole video series on the topic but if you can’t wait I highly recommend that book.

  2. Hi Phil, I just read your blog. It is a very interesting perspective and I want to think about it more. What is the purpose of Christ going to the cross then in line with this new way of interpretation?

    • Hey Bron – I just replied to Peprah below who had a similar question but I’ll paste it in here too for your convenience…

      Hey, this is a great question. Frankly there are dozens of things going on at the cross… to me stating that “earning forgiveness” isn’t one of them still leaves others in play. It’s Christ co-suffering with us. It’s God absorbing the full wrath of humanity upon Himself and forgiving it. It’s God taking the sin of the world upon Himself and not holding it against them. It’s God becoming a part of the mechanism of scapegoating, being a victim like Abel but having His blood cry out for forgiveness rather than vengeance. I could go on of course… like I said the list is rather endless. That’s why we have so many atonement theories anyway. Moral, Government, Ransom, Christus Victor, Penal Sub, Sub, Mimetic etc. This small part I shared would be compatible with many of the atonement theories the only one it really doesn’t work with is Sub/Penal Sub. Which of course is a shame given that is the default teaching of most of protestants.

      If you are interested in diving deeper there is a great book on the topic opening up the cross in light of some of the stuff I’ve shared in this blog. It’s Mark Heim’s Saved From Sacrifice. I’ll be blogging about this more and will eventually have a whole video series on the topic but if you can’t wait I highly recommend that book.

  3. This sounds like a vegan gospel to me. Of course God doesn’t need blood to forgive sin. He needs more than just blood. The bible tells us that the wages of sin is DEATH. My sins were paid for by the DEATH of Jesus Christ on the cross, His shed blood being indicative of that death.
    Right after the fall of man, the first animal sacrifice that ever happened was performed by God Himself.
    He made coats of skins for a covering for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). They couldn’t share the skins with their original owners, so obviously the animals God took them from died.
    Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity.” When God looks at me, He doesn’t see the “wretched man that I am” (as none other than the apostle Paul wrote of himself, -the man who wrote most of the new testament) He sees me covered by the blood of His own sinless son, and is reminded that the death sentence for my sin has already been carried out. Christ’s blood is therefore the equivalent of the skins God provided for Adam and Eve, -a covering, indicative of the debt of sin having been paid for by DEATH, the wages of sin.

    • Hey Toyne, I’ll side-step the vegan comments (I love my meat but not sure what a vegan gospel would look like haha)

      There is certainly plenty of bloodshed at the cross and Jesus’s death was very central to the salvation of humanity. Nobody is saying it isn’t but I do think you’ll find there aren’t any passages in the NT that say God killed Jesus. Or that God needed Jesus to die in order to forgive us.

      Here are a handful of verses talking about who killed Jesus:

      “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, YOU nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Acts 2:32
      “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom YOU crucified.” Acts 2:36
      “YOU killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.” Acts 3:15
      “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom YOU crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” Acts 4:10
      “The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead–whom YOU killed by hanging him on a cross.” Acts 5:30
      “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem THEY also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.” Acts 10:39
      “the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it THEY would not have crucified the Lord of glory;” 1 Cor 2:8
      “WHO [the Jews] both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,” 1 Thess 2:15

      If you come across any that say it was God who killed Jesus I’d love to hear them.

      As for your passage in Habakkuk you kinda missed out the second half of that verse… very easy to do but it does twist the verse to mean the exact opposite of what it says.

      You quoted: “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” but it actually says in full:

      “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, WHY DO YOU IDLY LOOK at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”\

      Habakkuk clearly has a theology that God can’t look at sin… but its in the same sentence shown to be incorrect. He is complaining that He thinks God can’t look at sin but God still does anyway.

      So yeah, I’m just not convinced by your argument I’m afraid. I appreciate you adding your thoughts to the discussion though and I know you will not be alone in your thoughts. Many people think as you do, in fact, the majority of protestants do! So you aren’t alone. But I do think you are incorrect :)

  4. Take away the blood and you take away salvation. The bible makes it extremely clear. Your viewpoint was never one of the early church and you know what they say “If it’s new then it’s not true” and if it’s true then it’s not new!

    I’d also like to point out that in the Old Testament it was the High Priest only that could enter the Holy of Holies and was to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the alter. There is also an alter in heaven and Jesus is our King and High Priest under the new Melchizedek order which is said to be not of this world. When Jesus ascended to heaven he sprinkled his blood on the alter for the attonement of our sins, in the same manner as it was shown in the old Testament.

    This is why after the crusifiction when Jesus was raised from the dead, he told Mary not to touch him;

    John 20:17 King James Version (KJV)
    17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

    But later that evening says to Thomas

    John 20:27 “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side”…

    This to me suggests that something happened between the 2 events and Jesus tells us that he has not ascended to the Father in Heaven.

    But enough of my words, lets go to Gods word and see what he says

    The importance of blood is shown through the entire bible from beginning to end.

    Matthew 26:27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

    Acts 20: 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

    Collisions 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

    Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

    Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

    Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

    John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

    Hebrews 13:12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

    Leviticus 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

    Mathew 26:28 This is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

    Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

    Revelation 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    Revelation 12:11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

    Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

    Romans 3:24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

    1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

    I could go on and on as there are many more examples but I think this says enough!

    • Hey Simon, that’s a great list of scriptures and you make a passionate appeal to the importance of blood. The issue is your jump to taking away sacrifice and blood meaning we take away salvation. Simply put there are countless examples of salvation being possible without blood in the Bible. Forgiveness is granted consistently without a sacrifice or bloodshed. Granted as you highlight it is often deeply routed in it. But that’s not unique, if anything its the forgiveness and salvation linked in sacrifice that is shared with other pagan cultures not that sets it apart. The narrative throughout the Bible that sets God apart from the other Gods is not the sacrifice that links Him to them, no, it’s the forgiveness and sacrifice doled out without blood or sacrifice.

      There are two voices all throughout scripture – one pro sacrifice, the other anti. Both are there, there is no doubt, you have quoted many scriptures for it… I could quote many against it. That game of quoting scriptures won’t solve the argument. The question is which of the voices within scripture is God’s preferred mode of operating, which is it that Christ and the apostles speak of passionately – in fact more than half the quotes you use about blood are speaking against sacrifice – and which of the voices in scripture is simply man’s desire of God, the god made in his own image?

      That is the bigger question. It is why you’ve missed the point of the blog. It’s not getting rid of salvation. It’s highlighting that there are two approaches to salvation and only one of them can be true. I argue a good and loving God that looks like Jesus and lines up with the meta-narrative of scripture highlights to me that it’s one of salvation and forgiveness not routed in bloodshed and violence but instead love and compassion.

      You are entitled to believe differently of course, and you are far from alone as this has been the dominant view of the atonement for the last 400 years or so in the western Church. But you have failed to put forth an argument that particularly sways me from my position I’m afraid.

      Appreciate you taking the time to lay out your view and, as I said, I’m sure many will agree with it :)

  5. Wow this guy already deleted my comment from his site. I’ll just share a few of the bible verses I mentioned to show how important the blood is

    1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were notredeemed with corruptible things, as silverand gold, from your vain conversationreceived by tradition from your fathers;

    Romans 3:24-24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

    Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

    Revelation 12:11 They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

    Revelation 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

    Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

    Mathew 26:28 This is my blood of thecovenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

    Hebrews 13:12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

    Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

    John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

    Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

    Hebrews 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

    Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

    Colossians 1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

     

    • Hey for spam reasons I manually approve comments made by people who have never posted on the site before. It says that to you after you comment. You posted at 1am so I didn’t get round to it until 10am this morning. Sorry for that, rest assured I post every legitimate comment to the site :)

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