The contemporary church measures sin primarily by its effect upon marriages (divorce), the Internet (pornography), kids (rebellion towards parents), culture (racial tension, crime), nature (floods, tsunamis), and physical pain (sickness, cancer, death). These are all effects of sin. But the bible points us to a greater reality, beyond the reach of counselors, doctors, Internet filters, global warming and social scientists. I am talking about measuring sin by God’s Law and seeing our condemnation under it (see Romans 4:15).
John tells us that, “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is a breach of God’s Law by sinners who – by breaking one Law – are guilty of every Law (James 2:10). We have a legal problem and we need a legal solution.
This week Horatius Bonar has been supplying us excellent material for meditation. His words on this subject are fitting.
“Man has always treated sin as a misfortune, not a crime; as disease, not as guilt; as a case for the physician, not for the judge. Herein lies the essential faultiness of all mere human religions or theologies. They fail to acknowledge the judicial aspect of the question, as that on which the real answer must hinge.”
-Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness (Banner of Truth: Edinburgh) 1874/1993, p. 3.
In this Christmas season we can sing, ‘Joy to the world!’ not because sin and it’s effects have been removed from the world, but because guilty sinners can now enter the courtroom of God’s Law and be judged innocent of sin! Let us think of baby Jesus being born “under the law” (Galatians 4:4) to live and die to be the end of the law for everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). Christ has come, He has been crucified and He has taken away God’s judgments against us (Zephaniah 3:15)!
Here is my personal prayer this Christmas season: I want to search deeper into what it means to be justified – declared perfect! – in the courtroom of God’s Law. I want to see more clearly that because this baby lived and died “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Joy to the Word! Christ has come to ransom sinners! Let the criminals walk free.
Have a wonderful Christmas season!