I am on trial. I stand in front of the Judge. I wear a prisoner’s uniform. My hands are in chains. I am ashamed and humiliated. I am without defense. I am guilty. I am condemned to die.
I proclaimed faith in Christ when I was a young child, but since that day there have been many times I have strayed from that proclamation. If I didn’t know the truth, if I had not pledged allegiance to Christ as my Savior and Lord, I could say I didn’t know any better. But, I know the truth. I know right from wrong. I can cry out with Paul and say, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”(Romans 7:15)
Every day, every hour, every minute, I must choose to die to myself and my desires and allow Christ to live through me. I want His desires to be my desires. This is such a challenge for me. I am the prodigal child. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I am like the Israelites in the desert, following and praising God when all is well, and then quickly forgetting God and returning to sin. “Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brother’s and sister’s this should not be.” (James 3:10)
I hate sin and the way I can feel its strong pull, tempting me to give into it’s desires. I hate sin and the way I’ve allowed it to slowly creep into my life. I hate that there have been times I have declared faith in Jesus with a sinful heart and dirty hands. I have been unfaithful to Christ so many times that I wonder how He could still love me. Why would He give me; a stained, filthy, ugly, guilt-ridden sinner, the privilege to share His story? I deserve to be punished. I deserve death.
And it’s here, standing in front of the Judge, in my deepest, darkest, sinful place, that Jesus approaches me. I feel His presence. I am so unworthy that I don’t want to look at His face. But, He lifts “up my head,” (Psalm 3:3) and in His eyes I see love and kindness, mercy and grace. It’s a love so strong that it brings me to my knees. A kindness so sweet it brings me to repentance. A mercy so rich in compassion it brings me to humility. And Grace, amazing grace, full of forgiveness, it brings me back into my Savior’s arms.
He releases my chains and puts on my prison clothes. He stands guilty in my place. Condemned. Ready to die, on my behalf, a sinner’s death to set me free. As He stands in my place, I realize He IS my defense. My ONLY defense. JESUS. My only way to freedom and eternal salvation. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But, if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1) “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”(Zechariah 3:3-4) At that moment, I look down and see that I am no longer dressed as a prisoner, but I am, “arrayed in the finest of pure white linen, bright and clean.” (Rev 19:8) “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) I am dressed in His righteousness.
(This blog was written in response to a question that was posed to me: “After sinning, what hoops does a Christian have to jump through to reconcile with God?” In short, there are no hoops because “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”)