A young boy grew up on a large wheat farm and he was out in the paddock with his grandfather one summer just before harvest. They were talking about the threat of fire which was always there at that time of year. The boy’s grandfather told him to always carry a box of matches with him when he was out in the fields. He explained that if a fire started, and he couldn’t escape, he should start another fire around him, let it burn a little, and then stand right in the centre of the burnt patch. The grandfather said to the boy: “Fire cannot pass where fire has already been.”
When we believe into Jesus Christ – completely emerging our whole lives into Jesus by faith – we believe into the only place in the universe where the fire of God’s judgement has already passed.
Let’s make no mistake about it, the Bible tells us that there is a terrible judgement coming upon the earth. The holiness and purity of God will one day burn against all unholiness and impurity. Our God is an all-consuming fire. In Jesus Christ you have already been burnt – the fire of God has consumed all that is not holy.
2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Colossians 2:13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
The only way for God to free us from all the accusation and condemnation of the law and our sin was to justify us. In His holiness, He could not leave sin unpunished. The righteous requirements of the law had to be met – and they were met, in Jesus. The fire of God’s judgement has passed through Jesus, and we stand in Him. By placing us in Christ, through faith in Him, we are credited with His performance. We have been made righteous in Him.
Justification sets us free from the burden of failing to please God, and our own expectations, and the ways in which we punish ourselves. It sets us free to be ourselves. The power of sin is broken. Although we continue to sin, we are no longer enslaved to it. We deal with it in the power of the Holy Spirit, by the grace of God. We take hold of His gift of repentance and we respond to His work in us to restore relationships with other people as we allow the life of Christ to bear fruit in us.
That, my friend is the wonder and beauty and reality of the Gospel of God’s amazing grace. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – and Jesus said, if you know the truth, it shall set you free indeed!