By: Garret Larsen
Imagine for a moment that you have been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of a heinous crime that you committed several years ago. After serving several years behind bars, someone walks into your cell and tells you that you have received a Presidential pardon and you’re being released today! You didn’t do anything to earn this, but you are free to go. This is fantastic news! There is no doubt that you have received a tremendous gift of grace and you no longer have to pay the price and suffer the punishment for your crime. You have been given the gift of freedom!
As Christians, this is often how we think of God’s forgiveness. We are sinners saved by God’s grace which means that we have been pardoned from our sin and in turn we are spared from the punishment we deserve. We have freedom in Christ! This is great news!
But I want you to know that Scripture describes God’s grace and God’s forgiveness to be so much more than simply receiving a pardon. The forgiveness we receive when we put our faith in Christ means that we are declared not guilty! When He was on the cross, Christ took our sin, took the guilty verdict as His own, and paid the price for us.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Apostle Paul tells us that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” This means that when God looks upon us, He does NOT look upon us with disgust, disappointment or frustration. When we are in Christ, He does NOT see our failures, brokenness and shortcomings… He sees the righteousness of Christ. He sees the holiness and perfection of His Son! This is amazing grace!
Friends, when we think of God’s forgiveness simply as a “get out of jail card” to escape eternal punishment, we will continue to carry the heavy weight of guilt and shame for our sin. When we dwell on our past mistakes and sit in shame, it’s as if we are asking for the chains of sin to be put back on us. The freedom we have in Christ isn’t just freedom from eternal punishment. Freedom in Christ means that we are free from the shackles of guilt and shame now. Psalm 103 tells us that “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
When we allow our past failures, mistakes, and sin to define us, it robs us of experiencing the full joy of our salvation. Instead, He wants us to live in freedom in light of the grace that He gives. Christ’s righteousness has been bestowed upon us and we have been made right with God! It is time to lay down the guilt and shame of your sin, and start living the life of one who has been declared not guilty!
Take some time to discuss the following with your family:
- What are some examples of sin in your life that you still feel guilty about?
- Does this understanding of forgiveness make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?
- What are some ways that this freedom in Christ should change how you live your everyday life?
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