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.

Adventures in Faith: What is Faith?

As we enter upon this journey, let’s think about the kind of faith adventure we will be taking. There are different ways to use the word “faith.” For example, we may refer to a person as adhering to the Christian Faith, Jewish Faith, or the Moslem Faith. This way, the term refers to a somewhat orderly set of doctrines or beliefs to which the believer subscribes. Don’t worry; this is not the destination of our adventure.

I think there are three categories of faith. First is the type of faith I like to think of as practical, everyday faith. This faith allows me to depend on and use electricity, drive my car, rest in my bed, eat my food and go about my daily life without being frozen in fear. Most of us learn to use this kind of faith from our early years. Our physical existence depends on it, we can’t live without practical faith.

Then there is the faith of mental ascent; I can accept my religion’s doctrines and teachings in my head, but believing those truths may not change the way I live. Faith that does not change me is the kind of faith James refers to in James 2:19: “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” I can “believe” there is one Supreme Being, but if that belief doesn’t reach a deeper part of me and change my character, it is useless. If you recognize what I have just described as your faith journey, I want to invite you to embrace a very different and risky kind of faith.

The faith I challenge you to consider has some elements of the two just mentioned but is uniquely different in one important way. That difference is a living relationship with the unseen God who becomes the sustaining and guiding Source of your life. What is this “faith” I’m talking about? Biblical faith has knowledge and action parts to it, just like the two faiths I have already mentioned. Biblical faith, however, challenges you to take a “leap” into the unseen reality we refer to as “spiritual.” Biblical faith is trust in the unseen God and acting in obedience to what He reveals to you to do. Hebrews 11:1 tells you this faith is the key to, the foundation for the life for which God has created you. You can only receive eternal life and become the person God intends you to be by this kind of faith.

This kind of faith often defies human knowledge and understanding and calls for actions that may not “make sense” at the moment. Abram demonstrates this kind of faith as he obeys the call of God, leaving his homeland in search of the place God promises to give to his descendants. Noah works for seventy years building an ark on dry land because God tells him he and his family will begin a new civilization after the great flood.

We who enter the adventure of biblical faith have much in common with the biblical heroes who have gone before us. We believe in the unseen reality of God, trust and act on His guidance through his word, prayer, and His Spirit. Our faith endures and sees us through tough times when God seems silent and looks with hope and assurance that He is working in everything for good to all who love Him and participate in His purpose.

In the coming blogs, we will join the adventures of many biblical characters and discover some of the things they learned about themselves. It is my hope that your faith will be strengthened, deepened, and your commitment to this adventure will increase as you know more about the loving and trustworthy God you serve. Keep the faith and see what God is going to do in your life.

What’s coming next week?  We’ll build on what we’ve learned today and discuss the question: Why is faith important? Give some serious thought to this before reading my blog next week. Thanks and have a faithful week.