The Hypothetical Sinner

There is a hypothetical situation I hear brought up a surprising amount. It goes something like this: ‘a horrible murderer does something terrible to myself or my family. He is sentenced to execution. Minutes before the lethal injection, he repents of his sins and gives his life over to Christ. Should that man’s salvation be taken seriously? Should he really be given the same Heaven that I, or my family, should get?”

Before I answer anything about this question, I want to point out that the penalty for this murderer’s sins were NOT avoided. They were much steeper than the injection, in fact. They included a blindfold, vinegar, nails, thorns, a leaded whip, and heavy, rough-hewn wood. They involved public humiliation, being spat on, being beat up, and being tortured to death. And they were all fulfilled by Jesus, who has volunteered to be a sacrifice for this man’s sins. So the justice you crave has not been denied to you one bit; it’s been bled out, severely, humiliatingly, over the course of many, many hours. The problem in your heart is that you expected this sentence to be carried out on the body of the murderer, not on the body of your Lord.

But think of it this way – all through the legal process, this murderer has had access to government-granted rights, which you also share. These include, among other things, the right to legal counsel, the right to be spared punishment deemed overly cruel or unusual, the right to food, and so forth. You would not realistically want these rights taken away from the murderer because, of course, you or someone you love may someday be arrested, and you want these rights to be applicable to you and yours. These are rights for all American citizens. Now, just as this man has his American rights, he has spiritual rights. The worse he has sinned, and the less life he has left, the more impossible it becomes for him to pay that debt he owes to God. The only options left to the man are atonement or Hell, and he has chosen atonement. God has granted him and all others the ability to trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for forgiveness of sins. And if some colossal sinner decides, at the very end of life, that he wants that wonderful forgiveness, then yes, he escapes the pain of his sins and receives a joy which he has not earned. But NONE of us were ever good enough to deserve eternal joy, not a one of us. You may have led a decent life, you may deserve some joy, but eternal joy? A perfect life? In the presence of the most holy of all beings? Even the most precursory self-searching should show that you no more belong in God’s Heavenly court than a potato! And actually that potato would have a much better claim than you!

The fact that you – and others – receive salvation should not be an upset to you. It makes happy the heart of God. You, as someone who cares about God, should try to share his happiness when a sinner repents, even if it is difficult for you yourself to forgive. You can separate your pain, grieve what has happened, and thirst for resolution. But please, do not become angry that God shows mercy, because he shows it to all. And your only comfort out of this tragedy may be to try to share God’s joy in watching one less soul go to Hell. After all, a thousand years from now, I would much rather see my enemy in peaceful service and communion with those I love, giving love to them in return, than watch his pointless suffering for a sin already paid for. And if he chose repentance and salvation, that is the outcome that his soul craves, too, even if his decision was made under duress.

So if it bothers you that every “customer’s” debt has been paid, you should examine your soul, and your relationship to Christ. Because the start of a relationship with Christ is to realize he died for your sins; maturity involves realizing that he died for the sins committed against you.

God bless you, and have a good weekend.

Please message the author for scriptural references.

Forgiveness and Texting

I didn’t write an entry this week, but I kept thinking about a text conversation I had once. Here is my side of the dialogue, plus some extra:

Forgiveness is hard, but what I’ve ultimately learned is that the love I have with God is such a good thing that it tends to push back hate. I think the best explanation about forgiveness comes from a man who was tortured for 14 years under Nazis then Stalin for refusing to denounce his Christian beliefs:

He said he was able to forgive those who tortured him because he knew that in Heaven, his guardian angel stood next to the guardian angel of the torturer… and they were both standing in the presence of God, trying desperately to get their respective man home safely.

Also, I feel responsible for the death and torture of Christ, because if I had not been a sinner, He would not have had to die for me. So if He can turn His blood-covered face toward me and say, “yes, I forgive you, and I love you, and I want you to be a part of my life forever”… well, I may not have that much love, but I should at least try. And the more I let his love in, the more it takes over, and I start to feel his pity for all the broken people of the world. I think, “of course they’re terrible to me! They’ve grown up in this messed up world, they’ve got baggage and brokenness and they don’t know the love that I have here in Christ”.

Basically I’m just too happy with Jesus, and that house is so full of love, that I don’t want it to be tainted by external forces like hate.

I realized once in prayer, that when I face Christ, seeing Him crucified, He died not only for my sins, but the sins of the whole world… That includes those sins others have done to me. My sins die there with Him, but also, the hurts that have been inflicted on me through the sins of others are nailed and dying on the cross. That gives me strength, to know those past hurts are dead.

God bless you, and have a good weekend.

Love, Morgan Grace Hart

Spiritual Diabetes

Dear Friends,

Lately I have been guilty of the terrible crime of wasting my time here on Earth. It’s not something I set out to do; it’s not even something I was fully aware that I was doing. But lately I’ve gotten sucked into so many pointless arguments, especially on the Internet. Somewhere in my pride I thought, “I’m a good writer, I can use my good writing to change these people,” so I got into it with several strangers I found disparaging the faith on news sites or YouTube channels I subscribe to. And how I got into it! Whole books’ worth of text written, hours spent at this. And do you know what I found? No one can win an argument with someone who truly does not believe them. It’s just like chasing a rat through a maze. If your superior reasoning leads their falsehoods into a dead end, they will turn around and shoot down another tunnel. And when they get to the end of that, they will again do an about-face and find a new tunnel to run through. In this way, these conversations can be endless, simply re-orienting every time you start to close in. I finally had to leave some discussions and block the people involved. I seethed over their burning and baseless hate, their inaccurate statistics, their across-the-board assumptions that all Christians were evil and ignorant. It was then that it hit me: I was not having an argument with other human beings. I was having an argument with Satan. Every time I rebuked one lie, he had another one waiting, and by slowly baiting me in this fashion, he was getting me to wander further and further away from home. That’s all he was doing. It didn’t matter so much who “won” the argument (if that is even possible). It mattered that, in all the time I was “fighting” for God, I was not looking at God. I was not born again through Christ’s redeeming blood to spend time attempting to out-argue people. I was brought here to love.

I realized the depth of my error when I began looking at it in the Bible. I had not first considered Jesus’ words:
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6). Definitely, I had been combatting something that had a lot more interest in tearing me apart than it did in hearing what I had to say.

My shame grew worse as I continued reading scriptures:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:15). Had I judged these people? Had I made assumptions about them before first checking myself? Yes. Yes I had.

But the ultimate blow came from this verse, which I next saw in my scripture study:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1). How utterly humbling for a writer to read these words. I could write the prettiest words on Earth, and if they’re not soaked in the love of God’s glory, they don’t sound any better than a lot of crashing and thumping sounds.

In this same vein, the Lord recently brought to mind a memory from many years ago. I was working quietly one day when a coworker – normally a very nice man – started speaking very rudely to me. I was offended and left. Shortly thereafter, however, I saw the same coworker slumped over at a table, arguing rudely but weakly at a friend trying to get him to drink a coke. It didn’t take long for me to learn the details and put it all together in my head: He was diabetic. When his blood sugar dropped dangerously low, his personality went down with it. While normally I get easily offended and take a very long time to forgive people, it wasn’t difficult to forgive that one coworker. After all, he was sick. It wasn’t him talking, it was the illness – the drop in blood sugar. After that, I watched very carefully for any signs of rudeness from this coworker, knowing that if it happened, it was not a slight to me so much as a sign that I would need to intervene on his behalf.

When I thought over the aging memory, the Lord led me to think about something: If I could so easily forgive this man for being sick, and ignore him without internalizing his insults, why then am I so offended by the words of people whose hearts are sick? Don’t I think it might be their illness speaking for them?

God bless y’all, and have a good weekend.

Sincerely,
Morgan Hart

Scripture verses:
Mark 2:17, John 8:43-45

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