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Posts Tagged ‘Guilt’

Waiting for the Verdict

Waiting for the Verdict

On my visit to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles a few months ago, I was drawn to a pair of 1859 paintings by the British artist Abraham Solomon because of the biblical implications I saw in them.

The first painting, Waiting for the Verdict, depicts a family waiting outside a courtroom while their loved one is being tried inside for a serious charge. By the expressions and body posture of the family, the wait is long, tiring, and reflects the seriousness of the charge, suggesting that a guilty verdict could be devastating to the family.

The other painting, Not Guilty, shows the relief of the family as they are united with their loved one who has been found innocent of the charges against him.

As I gazed at the paintings, my thoughts went to another court—the divine court that will take place upon the return of Jesus who declared, “I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of my Father and with his angels and will judge all people according to their deeds.” (Matthew 16:27, NLT)

The Bible states that every person who has ever lived has sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20), that the punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23), that all our attempts at being good and righteous are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and that every person will be judged for their sin.

But the Bible also shows that many people, despite being guilty, will be pardoned and declared “Not Guilty,” and they will be blessed with eternal life in God’s Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way:

“For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.” (Romans 3:23-25a, NLT)

In today’s culture in which the word “awesome” is used so freely and flippantly for almost everything, the implication of this passage is that God is truly awesome and amazing in his love, mercy, and kindness toward us!

He is awesome in that while most other religions require their followers to earn their god’s favor and acceptability, it is only what God has done for us through Jesus Christ that matters.

He is awesome in that even though we are all guilty of our sins, he declares us “not guilty” because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He is awesome in that although all our good deeds could never measure up to his holiness, yet he makes it possible for us to have a right relationship with him simply through our faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:27-28).

The wonderful and powerful message of the Bible is that we no longer have to wait for the verdict on that great Judgment Day. God stands ready to pardon us now—if we are ready to trust Jesus to take away our sins and follow him as Lord.

So, dear reader, where are you today? Still waiting for the verdict? Or are you a “not guilty” believer who follows Jesus?

Not Guilty

Not Guilty

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Many people would agree with Frank Sinatra who confessed in his “My Way” signature song, “Regrets, I’ve had a few . . . ”

If we were honest, all of us would admit to having regrets. Even the Apostle Paul had some, for he testified:

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Phil. 3:13-14, NLT)

Regrets were part of Paul’s reason to forget the past. He regretted:

• His self-righteous efforts to try to earn God’s approval by being the best and the most law-abiding Jew (Phil. 3:4-6)

• His role as an official witness at the killing of Stephen during which he held the coats of men as they stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:57, 58)

• His rabid persecution of Christians (Phil. 3:6; Acts 9:1-9)

But once he received the forgiveness and the life-transforming grace and presence of Jesus Christ, he willingly left behind everything—the regrets, the guilt, the self-righteous achievements and traditions—in order to experience:

• “The priceless gain of knowing Christ” (Phil. 3: 8)

• “The mighty power that raised him from the dead” (Phil. 3:10)

• God’s heavenly prize—becoming one with Christ (Phil. 3:9,14)

We, too, must be willing to forget the past and leave behind our regrets, guilt, and failures that haunt and impede us. As a forgiven people, we are encouraged to strip off every encumbrance that slows us down and trips us up—even pride in our accomplishments—and run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Heb. 12:1b)

Our goal in running and finishing the race is to be all that Christ Jesus saved us for and wants us to be. (Phil. 3:12)

So while others like Frank Sinatra face their final curtain by proudly or defiantly proclaiming, “I did it my way,” those of us who follow Christ will joyfully say, “I did it Christ’s way.”

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