It’s Monday Grace!
I was pretty young when I started full-time ministry as the solo pastor in a church with well over 300 members. Just 23. I had a lot to learn about people. One thing I learned was that many of those who claimed to be believers had a serious fear of dying.
Oh, I understood the pain part. No one wants to go through pain and suffering. And I understood the sadness of bringing pain and upheaval to a family. We don’t want our families to suffer. But Christians should not be afraid of dying.
Finally, I began to realize that many people expected to be judged when they died. Somehow, they got the idea that their sins would be presented for everyone to see, and they would be shamed and condemned when the truth was revealed. Then, they worried that the Lord would not accept them.
My first ministry was in a mainline church where the gospel had not been presented or believed for a long time. I could understand that fear of exposure among people who didn’t even know what it meant to be a Christian. But then I moved to an evangelical church and found the same thing. Still, people were afraid of the judgment. One woman told me that she was afraid to go to sleep because she might wake up at the judgment. She didn’t want everyone to see the things she had done.
Well, if that has been you, I have some great news today. Christians have already been judged! Your sins are already forgiven! You are righteous before a holy God! All because of Jesus.
When did you come to Jesus? You might not have a certain date, but there was a time before and a time after. However you define the time of your salvation, when you came to Jesus a deal made. Even the Scripture speaks of it as almost a legal transaction.
He went to the cross long ago for you. His blood was offered as the sacrifice to wash away your sin. That was done long before you were born or had any idea of your need. When you came to Him in faith, seeking His forgiveness, He was ready. The work was all done. All He wanted was your willingness. Your sins were washed away, separated from you forever. That was the deal God made with His people.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
Your sins are gone. You are forgiven. It’s a done deal. That’s good news!
But, you say, what about the sins I still do? Well, why do you do those things? I say that with tongue in cheek. We all still do things that are sinful. But, listen, those things are not put on our account. They are instantly removed from us. There are no eternal consequences because we are already forgiven.
But, that’s a dangerous message, some say. People will just go out and sin in any way they want expecting that they are already forgiven, they say. Yes, some might. But most will be humbled by such love. Most will begin to understand that sin no longer has to be part of their lives.
Besides, there are still consequences for sin, earthly and temporal consequences. There are still many reasons not to sin. And I have noticed that those who live under constant condemnation and in continual fear still sin. Even those who have believed that there is a remaining spiritual punishment for sin still sin. So, the message isn’t really all that dangerous.
No, the message of God’s amazing love and forgiveness is life-changing. I have seen strong and defiant men humbled by a God who washes them clean. I have seen people changed from the inside out when they finally realized that there was nothing to fear. I have seen people face death with joy and expectation when they no longer feared the judgment.
To be forgiven means that God’s love is more powerful than your sin and more welcoming than you or I deserve. It means we are finally free and clean and accepted. We are so greatly loved.