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Praying at the cross

Sin―an unpopular word in today’s culture.

We try to sanitize it by the words we choose to describe what an earlier generation would have called a “sinful act.”

Adultery becomes “an affair.” Lying becomes “stretching the truth” or “spin.” Destructive gossip becomes “sharing.”

Sin is “missing the mark.” That sounds pretty benign. It suggests that there are close misses, which might be OK, and misses so far off target that you can’t even see where the arrow landed.

Even people in the organized church, who should know better, may ask how far they can go before a sin becomes “serious.” It’s so easy to condemn the “big sins” like murder while ignoring the smaller sins, like selfish ambition and coveting.

In the past, the Church even coined terms to distinguish just how “bad” a sin was: venial for the little ones, mortal for the really big ones.

But by God’s definition, every sin is “mortal.”

Truth be told, there’s not a single human past infancy who hasn’t made choices that make us unfit to be in the presence of a holy God who can’t accept anything less than sinless perfection in his presence.

But that same God loves us, and He made us so we would find our truest selves when we love him in return.

So how can the conflicting demands of holiness and love be reconciled? Never by anything we can do, but God has made a way.

For the people of Israel, He made provision for temporarily covering their sins with the blood sacrifice of an unblemished animal. But that was only a temporary solution that accomplished two things.

1) It taught people how serious sin was, that something innocent of sin had to die to temporarily restore fellowship between a person and God.

2) It taught that animal sacrifice wasn’t a permanent solution. Every year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made the sacrifice again for the people of Israel.

Those sacrificial offerings were like making the minimum monthly payment on a credit card. But we keep running up the charges and will never, ever be able to pay it off by our own efforts.

That’s where the cross on Calvary comes in. God himself paid my debt. Jesus, the only perfect and sinless man, paid the full price for my sin, for all our sins, on the cross. He wiped out the sin balance on my account. All I have to do is recognize that He had the power to do that and accept the gift.

More than 700 years before Jesus walked on earth, Isaiah foretold what He would do to pay the full price for our sins.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 (NIV))

I was a prisoner of my own sin, but Jesus paid the full price to release me to love and serve God.

Sin―an unpopular word in today’s culture, but that doesn’t make it less real. For us to be with God, someone must pay―and Jesus purchased my salvation at full price with His death on the cross.

And I am eternally grateful!

Have you pondered lately how much Jesus loves you? How much he was willing to suffer so you wouldn’t have to? What can you do to share Jesus’s love with the people around you so they will also know what Jesus did for them out of love?

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