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Summary: Until we are justified in our actions, we are separated by sin away from God. That separation causes us to feel guilty and it denies us the feeling of joy that comes from being reconciled to God in and through Jesus Christ!

FREED FOR JOYFUL OBEDIENCE

Text: Hebrews 9:11-14

Charles Colson mentioned that whenever questioned by curious people in the media about which of his Watergate perfidies [sins] (deliberate acts of betrayal of trust) made him feel the most remorseful, he replies honestly and invariably with an answer that often puzzles or infuriates the very people who ask this question. He answers that question by saying: "None. My deepest remorse is for the hidden sins of my heart which are far worse". (Charles Colson. Loving God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2002, p. 115). Charles Colson hints at an observation that Mark Twain had made long ago: “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” (from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar). Despite the hidden dark side of sin and its potential in every one of us, our conscience demands two things from us, justification and contrition. Consider Romans 5:1-2: "THEREFORE, SINCE we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God" (RSV). Until we are justified in our actions, we are separated by sin away from God. That separation causes us to feel guilty and it denies us the feeling of joy that comes from being reconciled to God in and through Jesus Christ!

WE NEED A HIGH PRIEST TO JUSTIFY US

Until we experience justification through Jesus Christ, our conscience imprisons us. One does not have to literally be in prison to be a prisoner imprisoned by his or he own conscience. We have all heard of the legal term bail. Bail is the legal term used for the money that is deposited or credited with the court to liberate an arrested person with the assurance (guarantee) that the person will show up for court at the proper time. It is considered contempt of court for a person whose presence is required not to show up for court. There is a thing called a bench warrant which is an order of a court for the arrest of a person charged with contempt of court.

When I used to be a volunteer chaplain with law enforcement, there was a young man who was stopped for speeding. When they ran check his driver's license, they discovered that he had a bench warrant. His presence was required in court one day and he had failed to show up. As a result, the judge of that court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. Until he got pulled for speeding, he thought that he had gotten by.

When someone is on the run from the law, we call him or her a fugitive. A fugitive usually seek to evade being captured. How many times have you seen the news when an announcement of some crime is brought to the attention of the public by "Crime Stoppers" asking for an anonymous tip from anyone who might have information that will lead to the arrest of the guilty party? The other day I was riding up the interstate when an electronic sign on the side of the road told all of those who were driving by to tune into a certain radio station about an automobile accident. When I tuned in that station, an announcement came on about a hit and run accident where someone was killed. The announcement gave a description of the vehicle that fled the scene. The announcement also asked for tips that would lead to the arrest of that driver.

No sinner can hide from God! There is the story of a boxer who once said something very profound. "Many years ago when Joe Lewis was heavyweight champion of the world, he was challenged by a nimble-footed opponent. When the young challenger was asked how he planned to handle the Brown Bomber, he replied, "I'll outrun him". Louis' answer has been remembered: "He can run but he cannot hide". (Ernest A. Fitzgerald. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro:Pace Communications, 1988, p. 68). When it comes to sin, anyone can run, but no one can hide! Adam and Eve could not hide and neither can we.

Our conscience demands two things, contrition and justification. All of us have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But, none of us can experience the peace of God until we are justified by faith in and through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). There is no way we can justify ourselves. If we could have justified ourselves, then Jesus Christ never would have had to come and pay the price for our sins with His own blood for our redemption and reconciliation. We cannot ever do anything that will satisfy the conscience's demand for justification and contrition because of our guilt.

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