What great words to hear if we’ve been charged with a crime you never committed! And what guilt-producing words that penetrate into the marrow of one’s bones–to last a lifetime–if we know, in spite of the verdict “Not guilty,” we ARE guilty!
But what if the verdict was given because someone who loved us intensely offered to be sentenced as our substitute? And what if the sentence was death? Whoa!
That is, in fact, exactly what happened when Jesus was crucified at Calvary.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a cross.'” (Galatians 3:13)
I’ve known the story all my life, taught it to others, and entrusted my eternal destiny to it.
But when I was diagnosed with ALS in January 2014, my faith in the veracity of the story was put to the test–not the veracity of the story itself, but whether or not it really did encompass me.
A voice inside me kept up a barrage of condemning accusations: “You’re too great a sinner! You’re a phony! You haven’t prayed enough or read the Scriptures enough. You’ve sinned so frequently that there’s no way you are acceptable to God.”
Then the Holy Spirit inside of me brought to my attention the scriptures I had memorized over a lifetime. By meditating over them again and again the lies began to dissipate and at last I was enabled to rise above them as one would pop up through the ice after falling into a frozen river.
Three passages in particular rescued me and destroyed the arguments of my enemy, Satan.
John 6:37 “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
From that point in early January 2014 the truth of scripture and the companionship of the Holy Spirit have produced in me a greater trust and confidence than ever before. Paul was correct when wrote:
Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”