3rd October 2019

Guilty, As Charged!

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
1 John 1:8-10 (NKJV)

The English justice system has a particular quirk in it. That is, if you plead guilty to the crime you are accused of, you benefit from a reduced sentence. So, if you plead not guilty, requiring the cost of a full criminal trial and the need for witnesses to appear, you risk a longer sentence if found guilty! Which means, if you are guilty, it makes sense to enter a guilty plea so you will do less time in prison.

What then is the difference between a criminal and a Christian? As Christians we know we are guilty of sin and need to plead guilty, as charged, before the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But sometimes our vanity and pride makes that hard to do and we try to justify ourselves in our own mind (Jeremiah 17:9). We know the penalty of sin is death, but we should also know that by pleading guilty, as charged, we are free of that penalty! So why hesitate and self justify when we have nothing to fear?

Because the difference between a criminal and a Christian is that the penalty has already been paid: by pleading guilty we have nothing to fear! The awesome truth is that God, in the human form of Jesus, allowed Himself to be crucified, an agonising, painful way to die, to free us from the penalty of sin. So, by confessing our sins, we have the benefit of peace and forgiveness.

We must also understand that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for the sins of all humanity, even the foulest, worst sin we can imagine. For us as Christians, for all humanity, there is no reduction in our sentence for pleading guilty. There is only freedom from fear and doubt, with the reward of eternal life to look forward to.

Why let our human pride and vanity get in the way of our relationship with someone who actually died for us, was resurrected and sits at the right hand of the Father as our intercessor? The judge we face is greater, fairer, more merciful and more loving than any human judge could ever be. When, before God, we plead guilty as charged, we are acknowledging our complete dependence on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Gracious Father, we come before you with all our sins, weakness and vanity displayed, whether we realise it or not. Thank you that through what Jesus Christ has already done we are free and the price for our sins is paid.
Amen

Study by Keith Hartrick
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About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds, and serves on the Church Council there.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LEEDS
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: leeds@gracecom.church