Question- when are you beyond the long arm of the law? Answer- when it has already flexed it’s muscles and put you to death. This, oddly enough, may not be a great comfort to anyone guilty of a serious crime but for the Christian it is very good news!
Let me explain but first the bad news. Every single one of us is seriously guilty before God. If you have any doubts let me ask you four questions.
1) Have you ever stolen something- even a small item? God’s Law says that you shall not steal.
2) Have you ever taken God’s Name in vein? Again, this is breaking one of God’s special rules.
3) Have you ever committed murder? (remember, Jesus defined murder as beginning in the heart; “You have heard that it was said to those of old,‘ You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment”.
4) Have you ever committed adultery? (remember, Jesus made it clear that adultery begins in the heart; “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.)
In the interests of full disclose I have to own up to pleading guilty on all four counts. In the cold light of day that makes me a thieving, murdering, blaspheming adulterer. Not a pretty picture, but that’s the truth and better to hear it now than on the Judgment Day. How did you do?
I would hope that you are a better person than me, but I fear that you might be on the same guilty ground as I. This is serious stuff, especially as God doesn’t mess about when it comes to punishing sin. Seen in that light we are as good as dead.
Strangely enough, being as ‘good as dead’ is our only hope.....
Now the good news! St Paul wrote some amazing words in his letter to the Galatians;
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God”. How can this be, that we could be both dead and alive at the same time? The Apostle goes on to explain;
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” The stupendous truth that Paul was getting across is that, in the eyes of God, everyone who trusts in Jesus is identified with Christ in his death. Thus, when Jesus died carrying the weight of our sin- we (legally) died.
This means that in the eyes of God’s law every believer is already dead, having undergone the just deserts of their disobedience. Think of that- even for thieving, murdering, blaspheming adulterers, plus a pile of other things that I have done, I am treated as though I have already paid for my sin (only I didn’t, Jesus did it on my behalf)!!
And the good news gets even greater as the great apostle goes on to write- “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. In other words Jesus death, in the eyes of God, was my death and his resurrection life is now my life, in the eyes of God. What this means is that my pathetic sin will never wreck things because God bases his judgment of my life based not upon what I do (after all ‘I am dead’) but upon the perfect life of Jesus!
This is the glorious offer that God makes to everyone; be already dead to the demands of the law by believing in Jesus and be already alive to God by trusting in Christ!