29th March 2013

Crime And No Punishment

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”
Romans 3:25 (NIV UK)

“What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?” is a quote from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Most people might answer yes to the question. For example, a judge may sentence someone to a specified number of hours in community service to pay for a misdemeanor.

Surely, some Christians may think, God would agree that the punishment should fit the crime? After all, is God not the God of vengeance and retribution? Is his plan not to punish the wicked for their sins?

No, actually that is not God’s plan. God’s idea of justice involves grace. His thought is that we sinners should not get what we deserve. Rather we receive what Christ, who did no sin, has earned for us – that is, salvation. His thought is, as described by Paul above, that through faith in Christ’s blood our sins are left “unpunished”!

No amount of good deeds can erase the debt of our sins, be they small or large. It is not our goodness that counts, it is the goodness of God. We might try to be perfect in order to restore ourselves spiritually but it is to no avail. Thankfully we don’t need to be perfect. Jesus, our Saviour, needs to be perfect, and he is, and was, and will be forever perfect. God’s justice was that Jesus died willingly in our place and there remains no punishment for us.

As we think about the sacrifice of Christ, let’s remember it is all about grace. By grace we have been saved. God “saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5).

In Christ our sins have been left unpunished.

We have been forgiven.

Great loving Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus through whose blood we have received forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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