“there is no judgement against anyone who believes in him” John 3: 18
Jesus spoke scorchingly about sin as he walked the earth; he knew more than we do, that sin has brought decay and destruction into this world, as each of us turns our back on God and pursues our own way of life.
He also knew that God was not going to let us go unpunished, but there is a judgement coming, from a God whom the Bible describes as a ‘consuming fire’. You may not read about this is in the world’s press, and our governments of the day may find it unpalatable to teach such things, but here Jesus provides us a nicely rounded Gospel.
The difficulty with our sin, is that we can only compare ourselves to other sinners, and so we get a very jaundiced view of the world. “I’m not as bad as him, but perhaps not as good as her” our logic tells us. God’s yardstick in the heavenly courtroom will be perfection, and there will be no grading system. The examination is either pass or fail, and we are told repeatedly that we have all failed. (Incidentally, that is quite different from saying we are all failures).
What we find so fascinating when we get out on the streets to tell people about Jesus, is that it almost comes as a relief to many to hear that they are sinners, the same as everyone. The church, with its holding onto a ‘priesthood’ (a grave sin in itself) has created a system of grading with the intention of making good people better. But, what if you are never good enough in the first place? Once people decide that they are not good enough, they shrug their shoulders and decide, ‘what’s the point?’
There are two of the greatest truths in eternity encased in these verses, which have been hidden in plain view. The first is this, God loved us while we were still dead to sin. We could no more change our condition than a brick becoming a tree, so God took the initiative, and he did it because he loved us. Never forget that, it is vital to the story.
We see the awfulness of sin around the world today, and it is ugly, destructive and filled with violence. The offense against a Holy God is severe.
Yet here Jesus tells us, that in spite of that, God loves us and so decided to do something about it. Friends, we believe in a God who is in the business of pushing back the darkness in the world, and calling us back to himself, until one day he has us to himself and will finally complete the job he wants to complete. This is not static Father Christmas up in the clouds, this is a Holy God who deals with the muck in our lives. He loves us.
Secondly though, we find the idea of ‘guilty or not guilty’ very difficult to come to terms with. We know we still sin, and so we have lingering doubts about whether we are actually good enough. What does good enough actually look like?
The severity of our rebellion, was more than matched by the severity meted out on the Son of God, and he has completely cleared us of our wrongdoing. I wish I could get more people to understand this. So many believers linger in doubt. If we put our faith in him, there is no judgement. When you stand before God, there will be no file kept. God will run his finger down the ledger and see your name in the Book of Life, and the case will be closed.
We must tell people the full Gospel when we talk to them about Jesus. They must hear it all. Our grubbiness, and self centredness which has caused such strife in the world. God’s love for us, and the fact that he moved first. On acceptance of the free gift that is offered in Jesus Christ, we are set free.
The guilty verdict has gone. Let’s meditate on that this week, and make it a part of our being. It will change our perspective on everything.