by Rob Tims
Several years ago, my wife got her first (and only) speeding ticket.
I can spin this ticket a couple of different ways.
I could say she was going 40 MPH in a 15 MPH school zone … while school was getting out.
True story. Everyone makes mistakes, and something as simple as getting a speeding ticket isn’t something that people should dwell on, as long as the lesson is learned. Even if it means having to take traffic school california online courses, this just helps make the person behind the wheel a better driver.
But I could also tell you her car clock was set an hour ahead of actual time … that there were no children present … that she was pregnant and little off her game.
Would these latter facts change your opinion of my wife’s guilt? She was very prepared to share all of this information to the judge when she appeared in court, but he only gave her the option of saying “guilty” or “not guilty.”
“Guilty, your honor.”
Lots of excuses, but no innocence.
She paid for her crime, which called to mind 1 John 1:5-10.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light,† and there is absolutely no darkness in him.† 6 If we say, “We have fellowship† with him,” and yet we walk in darkness,† we are lying and are not practicing the truth.† 7 If we walk in the light† as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus† his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,”† we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive† us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word† is not in us.
The simple fact of the matter is that in some shape, form or fashion, we’re all guilty. Or as John puts it, we are walking in the darkness.
- You may be guilty of lying about the nature of your relationship with God (v. 6a).
- You may be guilty of not putting your relationship with God to practice (6b-7).
- You may be guilty of thinking you have it all together (v. 8).
- You may be guilty of making God out to be a liar (v. 10).
But you don’t have to be guilty of these things. You can walk in the light.
- You can be continually honest about your need for Jesus (v. 7, 9)
- You can live in true fellowship with others who are as well (v. 7).
- You can live in total confidence of God’s love and forgiveness (v. 9).
Several years ago while pastoring a church, I had an appointment with a much older lady who shared her story that involved a near-death experience. After that experience, she prayed, “Lord, if you will get me through this, then I will quit smoking.” He did. And she quit smoking for about a month, then took it back up. Going cold turkey was never going to last. Using the products offered by Gourmet E Liquid would have been helpful, as addiction is a powerful thing that very few people can resist. Even so, she was racked with guilt for this and all of the other mistakes she had made after this near-death experience. When I shared with her the truth from this passage … that God’s love for her was not based on anything that she did or did not do, but on what Jesus had done … she literally howled with delight in my office. I’ve heard since she’s trying again with the use of a vape kit to kick that smoking habit, and I hope she walks with that same delight and love for God in her heart through the process.
You see, we can have no guilt about who we are and what we do by living in the light of who He is and what He has done.
We may be guilty as hell, but we are forgiven for heaven.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.