Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Walking free from Prison


Photos courtesy of Unsplash

What a moment it must be for a prisoner when, at last, the penalty for his or her crime has been paid in full, and he or she can walk free and enjoy liberty that has been rightly denied him or her for months or years! To feel the fresh breezes of freedom and know that not another moment will be spent behind bars!

Conversely, what a horrendous moment it must be when, after examining the evidence presented, a verdict is reached, guilt is established, and the sentence is passed! It may mean a long term in prison, deprived of freedom, or in some countries, the death penalty may be the fearful price to pay. Even in our lax society, where standards have dropped alarmingly, it is recognised that certain crimes merit severe punishment.

It is, however, hugely disappointing, even after having served my sentence, to discover that the law can never totally erase the stain of guilt, and if, on a future occasion, I fall foul of the law, I will have a criminal record and previous misdemeanours will be taken into account and result in a less lenient attitude towards me.

Do you realise that you are guilty even if you have never committed a serious crime? God’s Word says “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” Romans 3.19. You may wish to protest your innocence and say that this message does not apply to you, but the solemn, non-negotiable fact is that “there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3.22,23. Such is the sad plight of the entire human race that we entered this world with the dark blot of sin deeply ingrained in our soul. How humbling to realise that we are sinners from the very beginning, and the malady soon manifests itself in a multiplicity of ways. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” Psalm 58.3. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” Psalm 51.5. The old adage is true: we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.

You may argue that you are not responsible for being born in sin. That is true, and God, Who is righteous, will not punish you for that. However, He, at infinite cost, has made provision that you may, in your lifetime, have your sins forgiven, and if you refuse that provision and thus die in your sins, you are responsible for that, and you will be punished. Forgiveness of sins is not optional but an absolute necessity if you want to escape the eternal punishment your sins deserve. Failure to have this serious matter dealt with will mean banishment from God and missing Heaven forever. “These shall go away into everlasting punishment …” Matthew 25.46.

How can God pardon the guilty and cleanse the defiled if He is righteous? He found a willing Substitute to bear the punishment in our stead. It was necessary for that Person to be without sin, absolutely guiltless, and the only One Who could take our place was the Lord Jesus, God’s “only begotten Son” John 3.16; “His own Son” Romans 8.32. It was an incalculable price to pay but the wonder of the gospel is that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3.16. The full penalty of our sins must be borne, or we can never be free. Paul announced to people in Corinth, “Christ died for our sins” 1 Corinthians 15.3. The same man wrote in Romans 5.8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

No effort on your part will ever be sufficient for God to pardon you, but if you take God at His word and trust Christ, accepting that He did all that God demanded for your eternal freedom, you will no longer be under condemnation; you will walk free and “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” John 8.36.

Used by kind permission of Assembly Testimony


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