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Unlike the Internet, Jesus remembers your sin no more

Hilary Tompkins » God Justification Culture

What do Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, and the latest celebrity scandal have to do with your sin and Jesus’ salvation? More than you think.

Scandalous news stories have always happened and will continue to happen. Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke might be the most recent, but you can count on more. The Internet is generally ablaze with accounts of someone’s latest failing, preserved online forevermore.

Do you see yourself in the scandals?

It’s easy to mock the latest celebrity scandal, but we have to realize one thing: Apart from the grace of God and the saving work of Jesus on the cross, we are all the scary stories and terrible warnings we read in Scripture or online. We’re Jezebel and Ahab. We’re David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). We’re Lot and his daughters (Gen. 19:30–38). We’re Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11).

Let’s not fool ourselves. Left to our own devices, our sinful hearts are just as inclined to the very same behavior we love to condemn.

We love the law when it brings justice to our offender. We’re just glad it’s not us—this time.

We’re all attention-seekers trying to fulfill our own agendas and cravings, focused with painful intensity on our selfish intentions. If, like the Pharisees, we are self-righteously inclined to deny our propensity to sin, we fool ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

We love justice—for others

Still not convinced? Consider the woman caught in adultery in John 8. As Jesus was teaching, the religious leaders brought the woman to him, determined to shame her by making her sin public, elevate their own knowledge of the law, and humiliate Jesus by testing him. By law, she should have been condemned to death by stoning.

We love the law when it brings justice to our offender. We’re just glad it’s not us—this time. Isn’t that how we look at the scandals that make national news? We can’t stop watching the wreckage, evaluating the people involved, pronouncing judgment, and justifying ourselves.

Left to our own devices, our sinful hearts are just as inclined to the very same behavior we love to condemn.

But Jesus, who came to fulfill the law, suggested that those who were sinless should cast the first stone (John 8:7). In Romans 2:1, we’re told that in passing judgment on another we condemn ourselves, because we practice the very same things (though within the body of Christ there is a sense in which, motivated by love, we are to “judge” one another not for condemnation but for freedom in order to lovingly call each other to repentance, James 5:19, Gal. 6:1).

A more beautiful way

Nonetheless, when we believe that we’re better than the dancer, the idolater, the cheater, the adulterer, the addict, the thief, and the sinner, we convince ourselves that we are outside both law and gospel. But the law holds up a standard we clearly cannot meet, whether we are Miley Cyrus or Mother Teresa. It reminds us that there is a better and more beautiful way that we are powerless to choose without help.

In passing judgment on another we condemn ourselves, because we practice the very same things.

That help comes from Jesus. Through his death on the cross, he forgives our sin, removes the hammer and nails from our hands (for we have surely put him there), and sets us free by forgiving every regrettable action, every misguided effort, every disgusting display of self we’ve ever committed (seen and unseen).

The Bible says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. . . . But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9, 11).

Jesus changes your name, your destiny, and your legacy and invites you into his kingdom as a dearly loved child. Unlike the Internet, he remembers your sin no more. Because of Jesus, you are set free to live free. 


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