Why Jesus Substitutionary Death Delivers Us from This Evil World

The Epistle to the Galatians

In Palmyra on October 17, 1862, during the war, an informer in the town disappeared and the commander-in-charge ordered ten men to be shot in reprisal. Several men were being detained in Palmyra jail as prisoners-of-war at that time, and ten men were selected from among them. Of this number, one was Wm. T. Humphrey, that father of several children, whose wife pleaded for his release. Because of her physical condition and because Humphrey was the father of several children, the commanding officer struck his name off and substituted the name of Hiram Smith, a young man without a family. Smith gave his consent and stated that perhaps it were better for a single man to die rather than a man with a family. At Mt. Pleasant Church cemetery in Mt. Salem Association is a stone erected with an inscription which reads: “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith. The hero that sleeps beneath the sod here who was shot at Palmyra, Oct. 17, 1862, as a substitute for Wm. T. Humphrey, my father. —G. W. Humphrey” 1. Right out of the gate, Paul addresses the idea of Jesus substitutionary work in his opening remarks to the Galatians. In today’s post, we are going to take a look at three simple letters which spell out the principle of substitution.

Substitution in Three Simple Letters

Galatians 1:4 (NKJV) 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

  • The solution to dealing with error in the church is preaching truth in the church.
  • The solution to believers who have gotten off into error is to remind them of the truth.
  • This is the reason Paul makes this statement about Jesus sacrifice in verse four.
  • Jesus gave himself for our sins.
  • For is a powerful word in this verse.
  • It’s the rudder that steers the entire gospel ship.
  • People may think they have to add something to the sacrifice of Jesus.
  • Some may think that works are essential to living a successful life.
  • Paul lets us know that it’s Jesus sacrifice which brings success.
  • The way of the cross is what brings deliverance from this present evil age.
  • It comes by the way of three simple letters, f-o-r.
  • The Greek word ‘for‘, in the phrase, ‘He gave Himself for our sins’ must be understood.
  • The word ‘for’ is transliterated as ‘huper’.
  • ‘Huper’ means on the behalf of, or for the sake of another.
  • It’s a word which references substitution.
  • The importance of putting yourself in remembrance of the gospel is seen in this verse.

2 Peter 1:12 (NKJV) 12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

  • The believers in Galatia received Jesus substitutionary work but they had gotten off the track.
  • Substitution is a great word in the gospel.
  • There are many examples of the concept in the earth realm.
  • Let’s take a look at an example from the world of sports.
  • Many times a player who starts the game doesn’t end up playing the whole game.
  • He is substituted for.
  • Substitution means that player is no longer in the game.
  • The substitute plays in your place.
  • But, even though you are not in the game any longer, whatever the substitute does goes to your credit.
  • If the substituted player scores a touchdown, in the example of football, those points are your points even though you are not in the game.
  • If the substitute, by his play, wins the game, you win the game, even though you’re not in the game.
  • If the game which is being played is the Super Bowl or the championship game, then you win the championship even though you weren’t in the game.
  • You were substituted for.
  • But, who cares?
  • We won because the substitute won.
  • Jesus was our substitute.
  • He won the game.
  • When we were in the game, we couldn’t win it.
  • We tried to win it but we couldn’t.
  • God said a substitution was needed.
  • Taking this example a bit further.
  • When a football game gets way out of control, and the score is really lopsided, then some players get into the game who are not really good enough to be in the game when the game was at it’s crucial moments.
  • But you see, the game has already been decided.
  • These players will come in to use up the last remaining time.
  • They mop up until the final gun.
  • What are these players doing?
  • They are playing a game which has already been decided.
  • They are playing a game which has already been won.
  • Those players are you and me.
  • We have been introduced into the game of life by the will of God.
  • The outcome has already been decided.
  • The game has already been won.
  • All we need to do is hold up our end until the final gun sounds.
  • In our case, it’s not a gun which sounds.
  • It’s a trumpet.

1 Corinthians 15:51–52 (NKJV) 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Lincoln’s Substitute

  • In Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, there is the grave of a Civil War soldier. The stone bears the date of his birth and death, and then these words: “Abraham Lincoln’s Substitute.” In the woe and anguish of the war, realizing that thousands upon thousands were falling in his place on the field of battle, Lincoln chose to honor this one particular soldier as his substitute. This soldier was made a symbol, as it were, of the fact that the soldiers who perished in battle were dying that others might live.
  • This is the idea of substitution; one dies that the other might live.

Call to Action:

You’re a winner. Jesus victory is your victory. His glory is your glory. Lift your head up to Him in praise and adoration.

Question: How does the idea of knowing that Jesus died in your place move your heart? How has it spurred you devotionally? Please share your comments in the comments section below.


  1.  Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 1186.