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How Can This Criminal Go Free?

Suppose a man commits a capital crime and they send him to the penitentiary. There he is on death row, waiting to be executed. Then suppose someone walks up to this criminal's jail cell and informs him: "Hey listen, your best friend just volunteered to be executed in your place. They gave him the chair about two minutes ago." Then he takes out an official pardon and sticks it through the jail bars, holding it out to the convict. He says, "Here's your pardon. Signed, sealed, delivered and notarized. It's a done deal. Take it and you're free to leave. Do you want it?"

Now suppose the criminal says, "Oh, no thanks. I'm hoping to escape execution through 'good behaviour.' " Would that work? Of course not! That's ridiculous. No amount of law-abiding or being a good person today can ever cancel the crimes of the past. Once you're guilty it's too late to go back to being innocent. You can't turn back time and do it over right this time. What's done is done and it can never be undone. The only thing that criminal can hope for now is a pardon. So what he should do is realize that he can't save himself, but that his debt has already been paid in full, and that he should grab the pardon with both hands and go free.

All of us have done wrong. We have all sinned and God considers all of us guilty. Because of our sins we are all headed for death by hellfire. (Romans 6:23, Rev. 20:9, II Peter 3:7) People who have violated and damaged their consciences have done evil. People who do evil are not good. They're guilty. You can't be both. These are two opposites. You might compare yourself to someone whose sins are far worse and say, "What he has done is bad. I haven't done that so I'm good. I'm better than he is." But this is just self-righteousness. Try comparing yourself to Jesus, the true standard of good, and see how you measure up.

People who have violated and debilitated their consciences lose their ability to see clearly the difference between right and wrong in certain areas. (That's why God the Holy Spirit [the conscience] inspired the prophets to write the Bible. This book fills in the gaps where our conscience is missing. Your conscience tells you the truth and learning the truth makes you wise. You can never be wiser than the part of your conscience you no longer have.) People's moral discernment has become so dull that often the only thing they can perceive as sin is something really obvious like murder. And they say, "Hey, I've never killed anybody, so I'm a good person." God says, "Thou shalt not kill." But what is murder? Taking a life? Yes, but where does murder begin? In the heart. Have you ever wished in your heart to do harm to another human being? Well, what did you think murder was? Everyone who took a life did it only because he first did it in his heart. In our hearts is where we are first guilty of evil. God sees what we do in our hearts as clearly as we can see what other people do in their outward behaviour. And God puts it on our record. What else are we guilty of in our hearts? Adultery, fornication, theft, deceit, covetousness, etc.

Anyone who thinks he has no sin is self-righteous. And if anyone is depending upon his own goodness, his own good works, his "good behaviour" to get him to heaven and escape death in hell, he is being self-righteous, relying on the righteousness (goodness) from himself. (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Needless to say, God hates self-righteousness. Other people might consider you to be a beautiful human being, kind, considerate, gracious and well-mannered, but do you think that means you have no sin? You are still completely guilty and unrighteous. The good you do today or the wrong you refrain from doing, will never cancel the sins of yesterday. You can't turn back time. What's done is done. Once you're guilty it's too late to go back to being innocent. You blew it. The only thing you can hope for now is forgiveness. A pardon.

Jesus Christ already paid our debt of sin long ago. Paid in full. When He died on the cross for our sins our pardon was a done deal. He holds this pardon out to us and tells us: "Your sins have already been paid for so that you can have eternal life in paradise. Here is your pardon. It's free. Do you want it?" What are you going to do? Sit there and say, "Oh, no thanks. I'm hoping to escape hell and go to heaven by my own righteousness"? You have no righteousness! Don't be a fool, man, take the pardon! Grab it with both hands! It's free! It's forgiveness. You can't earn forgiveness by doing good things. Forgiveness is a gift. A gift is free. Just take the pardon and tell God "Thank you." Say:

"Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I invite you into my heart and ask that you take complete control of my life and be my Lord. Please forgive my sins and set me free from them. Thank you for saving me. Amen."

If you prayed that prayer with a sincere heart then Jesus has instantly forgiven all your sins and, just as you are, you are ready for heaven. It is not perfect, flawless and refined peole who go to heaven. It is anyone, no matter how flawed, imperfect, rough, uncouth and forgiven that goes to heaven. All you have to do now is wait for the second coming, the return of Christ to earth. (John 14:2, 3, I Thess. 4:16, 17)

Not only has Jesus erased all the sins from your life's record, but He has put His own perfect righteousness on your name. We lived a sinful life and deserve death. He took that death for us. But before He died He lived a perfect, righteous life without a single sin! That deserves eternal life in paradise and He gives that to us as a free gift. He took what we deserve so that we can have what He deserves. Do you see how it works? He switched with us. We needed perfect righteousness to get us to heaven. We lost that when we sinned. But He was perfectly righteous, and He puts that on our record so that when Judgment Day comes, God won't see our life's record with all the sins on it, but the perfect life's record of Jesus with our name on it! You get to heaven due to Christ's righteousness, not your own, because you have none. That's how it works.

And since Jesus was resurrected (three days after His crucifixion) you also will be resurrected, flesh and blood, at the second coming if you die before then. (Philippians 3:20, 21) The grave could not hold Jesus. He had victory over the grave and you will also share in that victory. He walked out of His grave and you will walk out of yours when He returns to resurrect you and everyone else who obeyed all the truth which God made available to them, thereby proving their allegiance to Jesus too.

God has not only forgiven your past but He also wants to change your life from now on. Since God is now in your heart, you have the love in your heart which you previously lacked so that you ended up doing evil. This love will gradually soften the heart that you have spent your whole life hardening against God, so that you will now love serving Him.

Since you have allowed God to take control of your life He will gradually restore the conscience that you've spent your entire life damaging. Your conscience must control your life. God is your conscience. When you chose to tell your conscience to take a hike you were telling God to leave. Because God has given you this freedom to choose, and because a loving God will not force Himself into your life if you don't want Him, He left. That's how a person loses a part of his conscience. You want your conscience back? Then choose to invite God back to take control of your life once more.

When you asked God to set you free from sin, besides having forgiven you for them, He will now supply you with His almighty power so that you can be set free from living the old way (living to give pleasure to your sin-loving human nature), and start living to obey your newly-restored conscience. Your human nature hates your conscience. They are always at war. You can't fight or change your own human nature. That's God's job. Your job is to choose to surrender your heart and control of your life to Him and to co-operate with Him so He can do it. When your heart wants to express God's love and your conscience tells your God's way of doing so, move to do it and at that moment God will send you His almighty power to help you do it. Just keep your will always surrendered to God's will and He will recreate you in His image. And when these three things are evident in your life: love, truth (i.e., the rules your conscience tells you), and almighty power, then God is living in you (Galatians 2:20) because God is these three things.

You're not supposed to live your life God's way. You can't. If you tried it your human nature would hate it. You're supposed to surrender yourself completely to God so that He can live His life His way in you, and express His love, truth and almighty power through you. You are made of matter so that God, who is a spirit, can live in you and through you. This is exactly why Jesus created you in the first place and the only way you'll find happiness--by expressing love to God and others according to your conscience and with God's enabling power. (Outwardly expressing love means obeying the Ten Commandments, the very character of the God of love. [John 14:15] Love is not just how you feel, it's what you do.)

Other lifestyles, which are based on false promises, might be fun, but fun is fleeting and leaves you feeling empty, lonely, betrayed, guilty, depressed, hopeless and regretful, so that you eventually rue the day you were ever born. It's like chasing a beautiful mirage. When you finally grab it you've got a handful of nothing. And you'll end up losing heaven besides. It's a total rip-off.

Satan will portray the things of this world in the most attractive light possible. He will lie, tempt, flatter, entice, induce, bribe, threaten, bluff and dangle any allurement in front of you that he can think of to trick you into choosing to put your heart on the things of this world instead of on heaven. Then, on the final day, when you realize you've given up eternal life in paradise and in return got sin-addiction, degradation, self-ruin and death by hellfire, Satan is going to look straight at you and say:

Ha! I fooled you!


Lucifer knows that God is going to burn him in hell. (James 2:19, Matt. 25:41, Rev. 20:9, 10, Malachi 4:1) He's just trying to drag as many people into hell with him as he can.

Forget the fun of sin and go for the happiness, joy and peace of Jesus living in you. Because He loves you more than you can ever understand, He went to hell (death) and back for you so that you can have eternal life. Stick with Him to the end. He won't remove temptation but He'll spend your whole life transforming you into His image so that you become more and more like He is--someone who hates sin (i.e., giving in to the temptation to transgress the Ten Commandments) and who is also kind, considerate, gentle, patient, gracious, forgiving, self-controlled and who has self-worth, wisdom and courage.

There are many religions under the sun and they all contradict one another somehow. The truth is that when many belief systems contradict, only one can be true and the rest must be false. That's just plain, simple logic. That's how God created the universe to work. And creation reflects the Creator. Creation is not a mass of contradictions, therefore neither is God. One must always be open-minded to the truth, and the truth is there can only be one truth. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deceived and closed to the truth. Remember, the devil's weapons are lies and one of his most effective is, "There are many paths to truth." Being open-minded to such pretty lies is nothing to be proud of.

But people chase after lying religions because they hope to enter heaven without submitting to Jesus, the King of heaven, or repenting of their sins. They want heaven on their own easy terms. These people are in for a rude surprise one day. Just because you have the God-given freedom to believe whatever you want, doesn't mean that whatever you want to believe is necessarily true. Only the religion of the Bible is true and Jesus taught that you can only be saved through Him. (John 14:6; 3:18, 36, Acts 4:12, I Tim. 2:5, Galatians 1:8, 9, Exodus 20:3, Isaiah 8:20) God didn't give His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for us as merely one way to get us to heaven. Jesus died because it was the only way to get us to heaven. If there had been another way, God would have thought of it. Jesus didn't die for nothing! If someone thinks it's bad manners to disparage someone else's belief system, then he'd have to disparage Christianity which clearly disparages every other belief system. Only the religion of Christ is true, and if a person doesn't accept Christ so that he can be saved, it would have been better for him if he had never even been born in the first place, because he will have lost EVERYTHING! (Jeremiah 8:20) All for the love of sin. The real tragedy is not dying in hell--it's losing out on heaven. People who realize they've lost heaven will welcome death, because once you realize you've lost everything, there's no point in going on.

If you have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour today then you are a new creation. Your old life is past. Your name has been written in God's Book of Life. (Luke 10:20) Make sure it stays there. Do not return to your old ways. (Rev. 3:5, Exodus 32:33, Rev. 20:15) This old world is wearing out. Earth's history will soon draw to a close. All the people who throughout the ages have chased after Satan's empty lies are doomed. Only those who have chosen the difficult upward road, the path of self-denial (Matthew 16:24) will inherit eternal life. Remain faithful to the end and we'll meet when Jesus returns in power and glory.

Now that Jesus is your Lord:
1) Read your Bible every day to get to know Him better. (Start with the book of Philippians and the Gospel of John.)
2) Talk to God in prayer every day.
3) Find a church where the Bible is taught as the complete Word of God and is the final authority. (I'd recommend your nearest Seventh-day Adventist church.)
4) Tell others about Christ.
5) Obey Christ's command and be baptized. (Matthew 28:19)

Also, buy What's Behind The New World Order? (80 pages, $2) Includes section on life-after-death. Write to IBE Inc., Box 352, Jemison, AL 35085, U.S.A.


Now that you're a Christian, you'll have to face criticism from liberals who might imagine themselves wise but who, I have found, don't know what they're talking about. Remember, the only right thing to do is to obey your conscience. Your conscience is not liberal--it's strict. Far stricter than human nature finds palatable. Strict and liberal are opposites.

Liberal: Didn't Jesus say, "Judge not lest ye be judged"? You Christians, you're so judgmental!
Christian: Meaning what? We can identify a sin when we see one? Can't you? Haven't you ever pointed out when you believed someone did something wrong? Why is it okay for you to do it but when a Christian does it it's judging? Maybe because a Christian identifies your favourite sins instead of someone else's. So you take a fit because you like to think that you have no sin because you're a saint. Or maybe because Christians are not afraid to identify society's popular sins. And people resent that because they like to tell themselves that if everyone is doing it, it must be right. As if morals are to be determined by majority vote, voted upon by people with damaged consciences.

Judging is not merely identifying a sin, otherwise you couldn't say that it's a sin to judge. Or lie, cheat, backstab or slander. Judging is condemning someone for his sins, i.e., being eager to chastise or punish him for his sins. (John 8:11) Or making the final decree upon someone that, without a doubt, he will end up in hell. But warning someone that he's headed toward hell and that he'd better wise up to this fact, accept Christ, REPENT, make a U-turn and head back towards heaven, is not judging. It's the Gospel. Jesus and all His prophets preached this (Prov. 14:12, Ezek. 3:18, 19, Luke 13:3, Matt. 25:41; 10:28), that if you repent you will be saved from sin and hell. Learn to discern between warning about the coming Judgment and judging itself. We're allowed to explain the conditions for getting into heaven or hell, we're just not allowed to make any final decrees. You will decide your own destiny and God will make the decree you've chosen. Sure, you will feel judged when someone has identified your sins, but how do you think someone else feels when you identify his? Your emotional response is not the basis of morals. God's Ten Commandments are. (Eccles. 12:13, Exodus 20:3-17, I John 3:4; 5:3; 2:4)

Liberal: Don't you Christians think you're being self-righteous when you say you live your lives properly so you're going to heaven, but the rest of us live sinful lives so we're all going to hell? I'm as good as you are so what's the deal?
Christian: We do say we're doing good, i.e., adopting God's Ten Commandments as our moral standard, and we do say we're going to heaven, but we don't connect the two. Believing that our goodness gets us to heaven after we've already sinned is self-righteousness, which is what you liberals are good at. You say you're as good as I am so you should go to heaven too. Clearly, your thinking is centered on self-righteousness (your own goodness) as your ticket to heaven. If Christians could get to heaven on their own alleged merits then why would we need Christ? Christianity teaches self-unrighteousness and Christ's righteousness, which is deposited into your account in God's ledger book in heaven when you believe in Jesus and repent. Christians have come to learn just how strict God's rules really are (after all, look how much stricter your conscience is than your human nature likes) and how far short of the standard of good we've fallen. Therefore we've asked Jesus to forgive our sins. So how can the admittedly unrighteous be accused of self-righteousness by a bunch of liberals who say they have no sin, who couldn't recognize a sin if it was staring them in the face, and who imagine that they're good just because they can out-do the goodness of a criminal? (Some accomplishment.) How self-deluded can some people be? You say you're as "good" as I am? Well, before I accepted Christ and was forgiven, I was a guilty, hellbound sinner. So buy yourself an asbestos suit. You're going to need it!

Self-righteousness is not simply knowing right from wrong. Nor is it having clearer moral discernment than someone else. (It only feels that way to you when we can spot your sins but you can't.) Nor is it believing that the moral code one lives by is superior to that of another person (as long as you don't say that you are superior to him). Self-righteousness is refusing to admit you have sin, preferring instead to think of yourself as a "good person," imagining that your so-called goodness is going to get you into heaven, or whatever you think is in store for you after this world comes to an end.

Liberal: Why do you say that doing such-and-such is a sin? Who are you to play God?
Christian: We don't play God. It is God's job, as our Creator, to define what is, or is not, sin and our job to learn the definitions and, as He instructed, teach them to others by word and example. We have humbled ourselves to God's service. But if God says, "Yes, such-and-such is a sin," and you say, "No, it's not," then you are playing God because you are inventing your own definitions, as if you think that, with your damaged conscience, you are even wiser than God. An absence of guilty feelings doesn't necessarily indicate an absence of sin. But that's what it's like when your conscience has been repeatedly violated and thereby damaged. When you sin you violate and debilitate the very thing you need to tell you what a sin is, that being your conscience. And that's why sinning is so self-deceptive. Don't trust your own understanding. Trust God's Book. That's what it's there for. Otherwise you'll end up creating a god in your own image, someone who agrees with your opinions about morals, instead of letting God explain Himself to you in His Book. God would never abandon us to blunder through life with our half-blind moral understanding. (Prov. 14:12, II Tim. 3:16)


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