Thursday, December 19, 2013

If God took you to court, how would you plead?

            Have you ever had to go to court? Maybe you have been in court because you were summoned for jury duty. Maybe you went to court to get your first driver's license. Sometimes people appear in court to testify to something they know or saw. Most often we end up in court because we have done something wrong. More often than not it is for speeding, running a stop sign or some other offence.
            If you are in court because charges have been brought against you, it is not the most pleasant thing to do. Depending on the severity of the offense, your guilt or innocence, the decision made by the judge or jury, your life could be changed dramatically. You may end up paying a great deal of money in fines. You may have to spend weeks, months, or years behind bars. If your crime was a particularly heinous one, it could mean that you will lose your life or spend the rest of your life behind bars. What sentence the judge pronounces on you could cause you to lose right to drive, your job, or even break up your marriage. In the end it all boils down to whether you are found to be guilty or innocent.
About 750 BC the Lord, through the prophet Micah, took the people of Israel to court. He put them on trial, so to speak, for flagrant sins committed over centuries. Even though he had sent prophets to call them to repentance, even though he warned them that his judgment would soon fall on them, they ignored him and refused to change.
Before the verdict was pronounced, the Lord reminded them how he had kept every promise he made to them. He reminded them how he brought them out of Egypt, given Moses to be their leader. He had kept adversity away, blessed them along the way, and brought them to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In spite of their unbelief, idolatry, immorality, and countless other sins, the Lord remained faithful to them and his promises. Yet they turned away from the Lord to serve other gods. It was an open and shut case.
If the Lord took you to court, how would you fair? If your life is anything like mine, sins against the Lord are common place. The evidence is clear. It mounts up day after day with each lie that is told, with every sinful thought that crosses our mind or sinful desire that fills our heart. The unkind words we speak, the gossip we share with co-workers, the times we had too much to drink, the X rated sites we visited on the intranet all condemn us.
We may try to make up for them by our good deeds. We go to church, say our prayers, give to charity, read our Bible, and teach Sunday School. These good deeds may move a human judge to show us leniency, but they won’t color the decree of the judge of all mankind. Our sins still condemn us. We are guilty. There is only sentence a just judge could pronounce. The sentence for such crimes is eternal torment in hell.
That’s where we will go and what will happen if we got what we deserved. By the grace and mercy of God, Jesus changed all that. He died in our place. He was declared guilty because of our sin. He was sentenced to death instead of you and me. Through Christ, we, who are sinners through and through, are righteous in his sight. God’s verdict, by his grace, is NOT GUILTY!