Not Guilty

The guilt or innocence of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is in the hands of twelve jurors. Chauvin, as you know, has been charged with the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. The jury’s task is to listen to witnesses, weigh the facts, and decide the innocence or guilt of Mr. Chauvin. The verdict will determine this man’s fate, a judgment that is likely to be unpopular no matter which way it goes.

Courtroom or legal words such as judgment, guilty, and innocent are part of the language Paul and others use to write about the life of faith. For example, God is the supreme Judge, sin is the breaking of God’s law, and the penalty for sin is death. Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is our only hope for a Not Guilty verdict.

Human judges and jurors have been known to make mistakes in judgment, sometimes convicting the innocent or freeing the guilty. Our judicial system is not perfect because people are not perfect.

But God is perfect; He doesn’t make mistakes about our guilt or innocence. Guilty or not guilty? What is your standing before God?  In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us we are all guilty before God, “All have sinned and come short of God’s expectations (glory).” Thankfully, that’s   not the whole story, “For the payment we receive for our sin is death, but the gift from God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What role does faith play in our guilt or innocence before God?

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into the grace in which we stand; and exult (have joyful expectation) in the hope of the glory of God.”

The legal term, justified, is used to describe our standing with God. What does the word mean? It means you are innocent of the sin you have committed. Your past sin is expunged or erased, as if it never happened. Yes, you have sinned against God, but now you are declared innocent. Is that because God doesn’t care about sin, or He takes your wickedness lightly? No, a thousand times no!  Why did Jesus die on the cross? Your precious Lord died for your sin so you wouldn’t have to face life and eternity separated from God.

God has done everything necessary to save you, and the one thing you must do to have your sin and its penalty canceled is to put your faith in Him, to trust him with your entire being. You don’t have to agonize over the future of your soul; God declared you “innocent” the moment you accepted Jesus as your Savior. You are justified, pronounced NOT GUILTY, before God. The battle is over, and you are at peace with Him by faith. Your trust in Him brings you into a relationship of grace where you are especially pleasing to God. And, because of faith, you can live in the joyful expectation of your eternal future with Jesus, your Lord. Not Guilty, what an indescribable verdict !! Live in that victory today.

Postscript: Do you occasionally have past sins called to your attention? Are you sometimes reminded of the wicked things you once said or did before you accepted Jesus? Who or what is that? It is the work of the accuser, the devil, attempting to discourage you. The evil one is alive and well and wants to cause you to doubt your salvation and lessen your witness for your living Lord. By faith you have been brought into a place of grace (Romans 5:2). Your standing with God is secure. When the devil visits, remind him that you belong to Jesus and watch him run.

Everyday Faith

 

In last week’s blog “Entering the Faith Adventure,” I emphasized the absolute necessity of biblical faith for a personal relationship with God. Faith connects our spirit to God, who is Spirit. Our saving relationship with God begins and continues in faith until we come into His presence at death.

Do you recall the early days when you first trusted Christ as your Savior? What was it like for you to be “in love with Jesus?” Did you want to please Him? Did you feel so grateful for His forgiveness that you were willing to give your life to Him, to do whatever He asked you to do? How about today, is your greatest desire to please Him?

Have you allowed the strain and pain of everyday life to dim the glow of your early experience with the Lord? Have you, like the church in Ephesus, “left your first love?” (Revelation 2:1-7). You haven’t denied the faith, you continue to give and support ministry efforts, but something isn’t quite right. You don’t sense the closeness to God that you once had. Could it be that you depend too much on yourself and others and less on God? Has your faith in God lessened since you first trusted Him?

The joy of living for the Lord comes by trusting God daily, an everyday faith. Paul writes about this in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

Paul’s life became complicated after he became a follower of Jesus. However, he seems to have discovered a joy of living by faith in Jesus that he had never known before. His desire to please the Lord was so compelling that he willingly endured hunger, beatings, shipwreck, imprisonment, and death. He had a daily faith, one that worked for him in all circumstances of life.

I believe we can discover the reason for his positive approach to life in a faith-statement he makes in the letter to the Romans. Read these words aloud and consider the profound effect they can have on your life if you trust the character and integrity of God in this way, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Your adventure in faith can be seen in three ways: past, present, and future. In the past, you put your trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Presently, you continue being saved by your faith in Jesus. In your future, when your life comes to an end, your faith-journey will be over. You will no longer need faith because you will be with the Lord.

Currently, you and I are in phase two of our faith adventure. We are in the world of everyday life of covid, crime, corruption in high places, sickness, with some joys sprinkled here and there. The Lord has saved you and continues to keep you from the power of sin in your life. I want to please Him with my life, and I believe you also do. There’s only one way to do that, the daily exercise of your faith in Him. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that He is (exists) and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” ( Hebrews 11:6).

Remember: Your faith in Jesus is about much more than being saved from hell. Biblical faith trusts God to guide you in your decisions and actions every day. Biblical faith is about how to please the Lord in the nitty-gritty details and challenges of everyday living. God cares about every concern of your life; why not trust Him with it?

Entering the Faith Adventure

There is something I need to tell you about why I’m doing these blogs about faith. At the end of last year, I decided to take an in-depth look into the subject of faith, what it is, why it’s important, and how to live faithfully in such turbulent and challenging times. My investigation has led me to re-examine some basic questions and understandings about why this subject is so crucial for me and others who want our lives to count for God and His purposes. Today, we look at one of those fundamental questions about faith.

Why is faith important? In last week’s blog, I briefly touched on the idea that biblical faith is the key to and foundation for your hope for eternal life. It is also necessary for the personal growth God wants for you. Because these truths are so important, I want to lay a good foundation for other blogs about why faith is essential.

Although you are created out of the same essential elements as every plant, animal, and everything else in creation, you are uniquely different. You are created “Imagio Deo”(in the image of God) and have the hunger and capacity for a relationship with Him. God made you for Himself, to know Him, and to be known by Him. God is Spirit and invisible, not directly accessible through the five senses and reason by which you use your practical, everyday faith.

Biblical faith is essential to having a saving relationship with God. Faith connects your spiritual nature to God. Because God created you with the capacity to trust Him, you can know Him at a personal level through that faith. You are a spirit with a body, and because of that, you will always have a Creator/creature relationship with Him. God wants you to interact with Him at a deeper, more personal level. He wants to give you a “born again” eternal life that is only possible through faith. You remain separated from Him and ‘lost” from His plan until you trust Him. You can enter the “adventure of faith” by turning away from your sin (repenting) and accepting what He has done to “save” you through the death and resurrection of Jesus. “By grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Our saving relationship with God begins and ends with faith.

One thing is sure, you and I are worshipping beings. Our spiritual nature requires that we worship a “god” of some sort. Your “supreme being” can be yourself, family, possessions, or some vague, unknown “man in the sky” idea. Biblical faith is very narrow about the focus of our faith. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of our faith. He alone can deliver on the promise of eternal life He has made to those who trust Him to guide our lives.

Have you entered into this adventure of faith with God? Do you know someone who might need to read this blog?