We’re trying to teach Joy to apologize when she does something wrong, especially when she hurts someone. She’s picking up that lesson pretty well. Tonight during her bath she was playing with finger paints again (it’s a bribe to get her in the tub) and she started to stick her paint-covered finger in her mouth. I said, “No Joy! Don’t put the paint in your mouth!” She looked up at me and said “Sorry, Nana.” “It’s okay,” I said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. Just don’t put the paint in your mouth – it’s yucky.” That was different from the other night when she got mad at me for taking something away from her that she was misusing. She lashed out – literally – and scratched me with her fingernails (that need trimming). Let me tell you – it hurt! Her mommy took her to time out in the other room and told her she had to tell Nana she was sorry. After a few minutes, I came into the room, and she lifted her tear-streaked face and said, “I sorry Nana.” I scooped her up in my arms and this time I said, “Thank you for saying ‘Sorry’ Joy. Nana loves you.” I didn’t tell her it was okay because what she had done was definitely not okay. It was wrong, and she needed to know it was wrong. But she also needed to know that saying “Sorry” was the right thing to do – and that Nana would always love her no matter what.
You and I have done wrong – we have sinned against God (Romans 3:23). We have broken His laws and offended His holiness. What we have done is not okay. Our actions deserve punishment – much more than a time-out. According to the Bible, we deserve death (Romans 6:23). But God is gracious to us sinners (Romans 3:24) and that grace cost Him everything – “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
Beloved, of Jesus, when you and I sin, we can look to God and say “I’m sorry,” and know that, while our actions are not okay, our relationship with God is. Because Jesus paid the highest price to make us okay. Because God loves you – no matter what.
“It is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8).
I caught the state trooper out of the corner of my eye and my heart sank. I was busted. I kept looking into my rear-view mirror, waiting for him to pull out after me with lights flashing. But he never did. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I realized I had gotten away with breaking the law.
The news is filled with reports of innocent people who were imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. They were denied the freedom they were due, cut off from their loved ones, and their reputations were ruined. Innocent people should not be punished. It is a travesty of justice.
Yet there was one innocent man who bore an even greater punishment – Jesus. He not only endured false imprisonment, but He was put to death for crimes He did not commit. The sin of all humanity was heaped upon Him. My sin among them. I am guilty. God has every right to call me to justice for my sins. But He doesn’t. And it has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with grace. It is not like the state trooper who let me get away with speeding. The criminal has to be brought to justice; the penalty has to be paid. Death. But Jesus stood before God and said, “I will take her sin, I will pay for her crime.” And miracle of miracles – I am not guilty anymore. I didn’t just get away with my sin. Jesus took my sin and my punishment. I am declared innocent because of Christ.
Beloved, if you have trusted in Jesus, you are declared not guilty before God. Your sins have been paid in full with the blood of the innocent Son of God. You’re not just getting away with something, you are truly free of guilt.
If you have not trusted in Jesus, you are guilty before God. But you don’t have to be. Jesus died for your sins too. He took your guilt and your punishment. Grace is there for you. More than getting away with sin, you can be declared innocent. Friend, won’t you receive God’s gift today and be free?