The law of the land has been violated and charges have been pressed against me. Horrified, I study my hands as I stand before the court. Watching as blood trickles down from my palms to my fingertips to the table from behind which I stand awaiting my sentence.
“How did this happen? I didn’t kill anyone,” I hear myself say.
And yet here I am, awaiting my verdict on the charge of murder. The judge asks me once again to recount the events that happened on the night of my ‘acquaintance’s’ murder and once again I stammer my answer. “I…I…I don’t really know what happened. He just made me so angry. I… I… felt my blood boiling over and I could have strangled him with my bare hands. I could’ve. But I didn’t do it… I didn’t do it.” I repeat that final line with total exasperation.
Totally spent from pleading my own defense, I look up at the judge who’s staring through his narrow spectacles back at me. “Well,” he replies while matter-of-factly scanning the paper he holds. “The law states that even if you harbor anger against your brother, you are guilty before the court. Therefore, I declare you guilty of all charges with a sentence of death.”
I crumple in a heap. “God!” I cry out in desperation. “Help me!”
Time Out! Is this for real???
The answer is yes. This is the verdict when we look at the Law which is all the commands of ‘To Do’s’ and ‘Thou Shalt Not’s’ found in the Old Testament, summed up nicely as The Ten Commandments.
But Jesus takes it a step further in Matthew 5:21-22. He says, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca [Worthless],’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”
Guilty. That’s what the Law makes us. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. What’s more is through the Law, I serve the same death sentence for a parking ticket as one who committed murder. Sin is sin in God’s eyes and James 2:10 says, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for [is guilty of] all of it.” That means a 99% is a failing grade! Wow! That’s harsh!
Wait just a minute now… There’s good news! Back to our story…
As the officers approached, handcuffs ready to take their prisoner, a well-dressed gentleman entered the back door. “Judge, allow me to be his advocate,” he said while approaching the bench.
I looked up with amazement. Who is this man that he would plead my case? I’m just a dead man walking. The events that quickly unfolded thereafter, I may never understand.
This man, my newfound advocate, turned out to be the son of the Judge. He did not argue my innocence. He knew I was guilty. But instead, he declared his own innocence and then asked to take my place. To serve my punishment. To die in my stead. That I might live. Not only live, but walk away a free man. Totally free.
What love was demonstrated as I watched the officers take their new prisoner in the handcuffs originally intended for me. The blood disappeared from my guilty hands and now appeared on his. Now, he bore my guilt and my shame.
I was there when he served his sentence of death. The one meant for me. I was the reason for his execution and part of me died when he died.
For three days I mourned. For three days I pondered the love of that father and son for me, the guilty one. But on the third day, he came to me. It was my advocate, the Judge’s only son standing before me.
He was alive!
Speechless, I fell at his feet. But he lifted me up and embraced me. Shouting in celebration he proclaimed, “I have defeated death, hell, and the grave for you! And as proof that my sacrifice was acceptable by the Judge, my father, I have risen from the dead and am alive forevermore! I will advocate for you always and because I live, you live also!”
My heart swelled with love. No longer was I a slave to the hatred that once held my heart captive. Now I’m only captivated by him. My advocate. My savior. My friend.
The good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus came and His love conquered all! Romans 5:8-9 tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Amen!
So, Jesus has freed me from the Law and He’s freed me from sin. Paul continues teaching us in Romans 6 that sin is no longer master over me because I’m not under Law, but under grace. “What then?” he says. “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” This mentality abuses the extravagant grace of God.
Rather, because of Jesus, we walk in newness of life. Our hearts are bent towards God as His is towards us. Therefore, our obedience unto Him comes from love and devotion, not out of ‘have to’ legalism. The letter of the Law is no longer written on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:3,6).
It is my desire that you walk in the fullness of the life God has planned for you. Free, free, free!
“I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.” –John Newton, writer of ‘Amazing Grace’
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” — Romans 4:7-8
“Grace brings about the obedience of faith.” –Romans 1:5