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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Guilty, but Declared Innocent

This post is third in a mini-series based on my jury duty experience.
See part one here
and part two here.

The main job of a juror is to look at the facts as seen in the evidence, and decide if the defendant is guilty or innocent, based on what the facts say.

In the case for which I was a juror, the facts didn't make that job easy. It was hard to trust the validity of the witnesses' testimonies, or the accuracy of computer data. We had no way of knowing whether something was dependable or not. Therefore, we had to decide that there was not enough proof to declare the defendant guilty of the main crime of which he had been accused. So, of that crime, we decided he was innocent.

As a sinful human being who answers to a far greater Judge than the one sitting in the courtroom I was in, I am not so lucky. There is very solid evidence against me. There's no jury debating my guilt or innocence.
I am, beyond all possible doubt, guilty of sin. I have broken God's laws, and God, who sees and knows everything, has no doubt of that.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23
Satan has accused me. My own sinful nature has convicted me.

But I will not receive the punishment due a guilty verdict.
"...and are justified freely by His grace." Romans 3:24
You see, when the Law pronounced guilty every person who's ever lived, God's Son stepped in to take the punishment we all deserve.
As a lawbreaker, I deserve death. Eternal separation from God.
"For the wages of sin is death..." Romans 6:23a
I'm not getting what I deserve.
"...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23b
Jesus Christ took my guilt upon himself. He had never sinned, and he was perfect--holy, pure and righteousness. He told his Father, "Look at them and see my sinlessness. Look at me and see their sin." And God said, "Yes. For your sake, I forgive them wholly."
"God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
He took the punishment that was rightfully mine--all of ours. He died. He experienced total separation from God, besides a physically excruciating death. He was mocked, humiliated, and tortured--so that I would not be.

But Jesus didn't stay dead. He paid the price, all right. But he is God, and God cannot die.

He faced my accuser--Satan. He announced that he had paid the price for my sin. And he declared to Satan that I can no longer be accused of guilt. Past, present, and future sins were all covered by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Nothing I do will earn me eternal condemnation. God looks at me as one holy and perfect, covered by the righteousness of his Son.

Now, I'll still have to face consequences for the poor choices I make. But I will never have to endure the punishment that those wrongs deserve.

There's no question: I committed the crime. But there's also no question that the guilt is no longer mine. The holy Son of the righteous Judge has taken my punishment. I am free and redeemed because of his love and grace.

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