Most of us can think of someone who has done something that hurt us so badly we have a hard time forgiving him/her. If we’re honest, we can probably think of someone who would have a hard time forgiving us too! It’s so easy to recognize sin in other people while downplaying it in our own lives. But isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?
When you come face to face with the realization that you are a sinner and that you’re guilty before God… how will you respond? Will you downplay your sin, as if that will make any difference and suddenly mean you’re “good enough” for God? Will you try to point out all the good things you’ve done, as if they will outweigh your sins? What will you do?
“The holy God won’t just shrug off our sin. We deserve death, and that debt must be paid. But Jesus has paid that debt for us. Though he was perfect, he gave his life to atone for us. Now we get rid of our guilt by receiving his forgiveness. Yes, we commit ourselves to live better lives, but that’s because we love God and want to please him. We’re not earning our salvation. That is a free gift that we just need to receive.” Josh Harris, Dug Down Deep
“Atonement” means that “wrongs have been made right.” The Bible teaches that there’s nothing we can do to make atonement for our sins before God. But God didn’t throw up his hands and say, “Oh well! I guess they’ll get what they deserve.” No! He sent his Son to become a man, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect and sinless life, and to suffer and die on the cross as our substitute. On the cross, Jesus suffered and died in my place so that I don’t have to stand before God guilty anymore. That’s “atonement.” A very simplistic way to begin to understand it is God took what was separated from each other (us, and God) and made them “at one” through Jesus Christ.
One of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 5:8, which says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t wait for us to “deserve it”… because that day would simply never come for any of us. Jesus Christ died for you and for me while we still hated him. When we die, we will all have to face our Judge – will you point to your own righteousness and come up short, needing to pay for your sins yourself; or will you point to Jesus, trusting in what He did as your substitute… and will your life bear evidence of your trust in Christ?
Romans 8:1 boldly declares, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What an amazing promise! No condemnation, Forgiven, Innocent, Atoned for.
A number of years ago Josh Harris had a very vivid dream, which he wrote down and published as “The Room.” You can read it by following the link, or watch the video embedded below. If you’ve seen it before as one of those email chains that gets forwarded, you can read the story behind “The Room” here.