I am a sinner saved by grace and in this present world, I will never be anything else. That doesn’t mean that the grace I’ve received is a cloak for evil. My profession of faith isn’t a ticket to sin without punishment. What I do avoid by my acceptance of Christ is what the Bible describes as the “second death”. I believe in Judgment Day and on that Day the pardon I’ve received through faith in Jesus will keep me safe from the final death of spirit and soul that I and all human beings deserve. Jesus didn’t die to make me a moral person. Jesus died to give me and anyone else who will accept it, eternal life. Jesus died in order to reunite God and man. Faith in Jesus isn’t a matter of morality. It is a matter of life or death. However, I am changed by having Jesus at the center of my life and my desire to sin is diminished by my greater desire to please God. The gift of eternal life is a morally transforming gift.
As a sinner saved by grace, I still suffer the consequences when I sin. Those consequences are natural and inescapable. No one is able to break God’s Law and avoid what those wrong actions create even if they escape human punishment. I have been sick for the better part of forty years now, due to a serious sin I committed against myself as a teenager. I have changed my life since then and there are those who love me and think that God is being very unfair toward me in allowing me to suffer for a mistake I made as a child. I know that if God hadn’t intervened in my life, I never would have been able to change my life, and I would most likely be dead, forever separated from God. My illness is simply the natural consequence attached to my sin and part of my cross to bear. Others doubt my faith or think I suffer needlessly because my faith is weak but my faith doesn’t come from me. It too is a gift from God and the consequences I endure prove the durability of my precious gift. Without Christ, I would be a physically broken bitter old woman. With Christ, I am a physically broken joyful old woman. All that should have embittered me has taught me empathy and opened many doors into the lives of others that enable me to share God’s love and comfort with my fellow, suffering sinners. The consequence of my foolish actions keeps me humble and in a position that allows God to work through me more effectively. I endure because I know ultimately, my healing is coming. Because Jesus died for me, I will physically die only once, and I will rise again to live with Him in a better world.
As a sinner saved by grace, I also suffer as a result of the sins of others. In fact, some of those sins are what drove me, as a child, to use drugs. However, I am still accountable for my actions as those who hurt me are accountable for theirs. The sin I committed against myself hurt me, hurt the people who loved me, hurt the people who love me now, and most of all hurt my Heavenly Father. My sin put Jesus on the cross and His physical sacrifice made it possible for me to be granted forgiveness from God. In the same way, I a sinner must forgive those who sinned against me. That doesn’t mean they will accept my forgiveness by taking responsibility for their actions. I can’t do their part of restoring our relationship. I can’t force what even God doesn’t force upon others. It does mean that I pardon them just as in Christ I am pardoned. I am unable to do this on my own but because Jesus lives in me by faith, the Holy Spirit enables me to do what is humanly impossible.
This is what the cross means personally, to me. I know it sounds very foolish to most but that is the power and the ultimate wisdom of the cross of Christ. True foolishness is to reject the free gift of eternal life by denying the price Jesus paid to obtain it and then offer it freely to all who will believe. True foolishness is to deny the fallen state of mankind and our need for God. We can never be Him and will only die trying. My prayer during this time of year when the world considers the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is that eyes and hearts will be opened to realize the need for salvation found only, at the foot of the cross of Christ. Please, accept your pardon today.