Royal Flush

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Forgiveness, Grace, guest post

Post by Jesse Newell

At a particular time of day in a particular place in the state of Virginia a man decided to end someone’s life. The victim is 32 years of age, husband, and father of three. Reading a article about murder always makes thoughts careen through my head. Who was the victim? What was the confrontation about? Could it have been avoided? Sorrow for the widowed wife, and concern for her children. The most prominent thought is; where is the justice for the family? Justice, a word that every Christian ponders, whether they know it or not. We’ve spent most of our Christian lives pondering over our past sins and what the consequences will bring, secret or known. Will we get the justice we deserve? The answer to this question will lead us down two distinct paths: truth, and a lie.

If you’ve been to any Christian small group you will know that usually they are safe places to tell another brother or sister what you are struggling with. The Bible says to boast in our weaknesses, to acknowledge them and seek help. However, there are times where this turns away from the scriptures and parallels with our own selfish hearts. Every one of us has done things we’re not proud of and wish we could hop in a flux capacitor and punch our old self square in the jaw. But we can’t, and we settle with guilt that squeezes the very joy out of us. We play this game with other Christians comparing our sins to their sins. Conversations that go like this: “you think what you did was bad? Let me tell you about this-” or “no man I’ve hurt people, you don’t know what it means to hurt someone.” We play this psychological game of poker with each other thinking our sin was greater than our buddies sin. That somehow we have the straight flush and we’ve collected the chips of who’s sin hurt the most. It sounds exactly like grown men comparing each others cars, houses, jobs, status, and bank account. That we somehow have to win, when winning at this game leads to death. This attitude leads us down a road that undermines what Christ did on the cross. It leads us to a false gospel. Belief that even though Jesus forgives us, yet we can’t forgive ourselves is not humility it’s pride. Forgiveness of one self is important for it shows humility and trust in Christ. Saying you can’t forgive yourself is akin to putting your sin above God’s grace. Our perception is altered in the belief that we know Jesus suffered for us, but we too have to suffer, struggle, to pay for our sins. It’s telling Jesus that yes he died on the cross, but it wasn’t enough. This goes completely against the Gospel of grace.

“When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Romans 4:4-5

The truth is we don’t need to suffer, feel ashamed, and ultimately die because Jesus already did.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

One of the heaviest things in the world is guilt. I get a mental image of a man in chains, in a jail cell, hungry, and parched with thirst. The above verse calls it a yoke of slavery. Young Christians, including myself, struggle with laying before Jesus everything. Our concerns, problems, health, and shame. Yes, shame. Because the beauty of the cross was that Jesus not only took our sins but also our shame. Regardless of how light or how dark your sin is, Jesus trumps our straight flush with a royal flush, he declares us pure and holy. While sin is powerful to destroy relationships, bring pain, sorrow, misery, and ultimately damnation. It is powerless against God’s grace.

“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”
Colossians 1:21-22

I’m writing about this topic because I’ve struggled myself with it for so long and have seen its draining attributes. Holding back forgiveness destroys effective repentance and limits our ability to serve God in the church.The last few months I’ve continued to be overwhelmed with God’s freedom he wants in my life. The joy in serving him has now exploded for the shackles of my guilt have been thrown off. I’ve walked out of the jail cell, and from the kindness of Jesus, not because I deserved it. He told the Judge, I love this man, and I’ll pay his fine.

Father God, thank you for putting this on my heart, and showing me the areas of my life that you want to intercede in. I ask that you humble me so I can get beyond myself. Forgive me for my self-pity and anxious heart. Thank you Lord for your Son, and the freedom that He brings. In Jesus name. Amen.

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