Reading the Bible, I want to place myself as the women and men I adore so much because of their stories. I want to be Esther, the chosen queen. I want to be David, the greatest of kings. I want to be Solomon, the wisest of men. I want to be Ruth, who chose what was good.
But in reality, I am the brothers of Joseph, who beat him, plotted his death, and then sold him as a slave out of hatred.
In 2017, God changed me forever. For no other reason than God opening my eyes through the Old Testament, I was suddenly extremely aware of the destruction I’d left in the wake of my sin.
Every one of the Commandments I had broken. Every single one. Until 2017, my attitude toward my sin was, “yeah, but everyone sins like me.”
There were sins, and then there were sins. Things like actually murdering someone, not just murdering them with words like Jesus said. Murdering with words couldn’t possibly be as bad as murdering in real life. Stealing twenty dollars is nowhere near as bad as stealing a thousand. And everyone lies. You almost have to sometimes!
I sinned all the time, asking God to forgive me with no mind to change my ways…because I wasn’t that bad.
If this is you, beware. When you get the notion to move closer to the Lord because of something said at church or wanting to better yourself with a New Year’s Resolution…
When you call out to the Most High, He will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
And you will be utterly undone.
The funny thing about our “not that bad” sins is that they are actually that bad, and not only does God detest them, but unbeknownst to our blind, self-absorbed, and self-worshipping unredeemed selves, we don’t realize that our “not that bad’ sins have tremendous ripple effects of disaster. They are the cigarette flicked by the driver who blissfully drives away, unaware of the forest fire soon to blaze behind him.
There I was, blissfully smoking cigarette after proverbial cigarette, never once looking backward or even questioning the smoky smell.
Then for whatever reason, I called out to God one day. And God dropped the Gospel of Jesus Christ on my head like a ton of bricks. He hit my smoking driver with His Mack Truck, sending me flying off into the forest where suddenly I had no choice but to acknowledge the disaster I had caused, or I would deservedly burn up with all.
Terrifying. Absolutely horrible. Terrifying and horrible was God coming after me. And terrifying and horrible were the sins that I had committed. When God opens your eyes, you don’t question back. You don’t say, “I’m off the hook because the Bible was translated wrong,” or “This is alright because we are in a new age and it’s more accepted now.” No. When God opens your eyes, you are sorry for even things you aren’t sure are wrong or not. You are distraught, completely aware that you deserve the worst punishment there is. I knew with every fiber of my being that I deserved the absolute worst of punishments for my “not so bad” sins. Because they were abominable.
Justice was not served.
By the end of the Old Testament, I fully expected my world to go down in blazing flames. Justice had to be served! The people I had hurt, the forest I left blazing in my wake—retribution had to be paid. There was no question. I had to be punished for justice to be done!
Imagine my surprise when I found Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Justice is served when the smoking driver dies in flames in the blazing forest. Justice is served when the murderer is murdered. Justice is served when the thief is finally robbed of his life and placed in prison for decades.
But justice isn’t served when someone else purposely suffers the punishment instead of the guilty. That isn’t justice at all.
If someone else takes the punishment that someone else deserves, not only is the guilty off the hook but the ones who suffered because of their sins are left offended and questioning.
But that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The punishment I rightly deserve, He took on the cross leaving me guiltless and free. How in the world is that justice?
It isn’t. I have received what I do not deserve.
What good can come from this?
Well, a lot. When a sinner like me receives this sort of unimaginable grace, it is impossible not to walk away unimaginably different. A new person so grateful, and a new person who has experienced a sorrow over their sins that leads to actual repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Those of us who have been given this unimaginable grace are fully aware of who we are in the story. We are the wicked brothers who beat and planned the murder of our brother. Then we sold our brother into slavery out of hatred. And Christ is the ultimate and better Joseph, who not only forgave them but welcomed them back to him and lavished them with good things.
Justice was not served. How is this good for those who have suffered because of the guilty?
The good is that the abominable sinner is no longer an abominable sinner, but a vessel for the power of God in the earth. Glory, glory, glory to Jesus Christ who laid down His life for those who were not His friends.
Repent. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16