Have you ever really looked at a Cross?
That great, central symbol of Christianity actually contains all the truth anyone could ever hope for.
It contains the truth that there is a God and that He is not just some abstraction but a personal, caring, Creator and Father. It contains the truth that He is a Father who loves us so much that He became one of us and even suffered death for us. It contains the truth that the key to life is love; the key to love is self-sacrifice; and the key to self-sacrifice is the surrender of our own will in order to do the will of the Father.
It contains the truth about the mystery of evil in the world. There is so much evil around us — criminal evil, political evil, economic evil, social evil. But the greatest evil ever committed took place right there on the Cross — the evil of the crucifixion.
This was, without question, the single most appalling act of ingratitude, deception, betrayal, depravity, obscenity, and malevolence of all time. God — the Creator of everything and everyone — was actually killed by His own creatures. The crime was not simply homicide or patricide or fratricide or even genocide. It was deicide.
No evil in life, no matter how terrible, could ever come close to the crucifixion and death of Christ.
And yet what did God manage to do with this most monstrous of all human deeds?
Out of the darkness of the crucifixion He brought forth the light of the resurrection. In a stunning and miraculous act of reversal, God turned evil on its head — redeeming mankind, elevating the human person to a divine level, making it possible for sins to be forgiven and for us to receive countless blessings during our earthly lifetime. On top of this He threw open the gates of Heaven so that one day we could all be reunited with our friends and loved ones in an eternity of happiness.
In “dying for us,” God didn’t just bring a little good out of evil. He was somehow able to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil.
No more horrible event could have taken place than the killing of Christ. No more wonderful gift could have been given to humanity than the resurrection.
And if God was able to turn the worst kind of evil into the greatest kind of good, doesn’t that also mean that He can turn lesser kinds of evils into good as well? Doesn’t that mean He can take the bad things that happen to us in our lives and somehow transform them into blessings? This is the truth about the mystery of suffering. This is the truth about the resurrection. And this is the truth that is contained in the Cross.
But there is one other truth in the Cross we can’t ignore. And that is the truth of repentance. To meditate on the Cross is to meditate on the value of repentance. Repentance simply means being sorry for sin; and being sorry for sin entails turning away from evil and back to God. Repentance thus represents a reversal of the sin of pride — a reversal of the original sin that was committed by the devil and his demons, and by our first parents in the Garden of Eden. It is an “undoing” of our rebellious nature and a sign of true faith. Christians believe that this “turning back to God in faith” is an absolute prerequisite to entering Heaven and achieving full union with God.
Christians also believe that God has made repentance very easy for us. In fact, if you turn away from God by sinning, all you have to do is say you’re sorry and God will forgive you, no matter what the sin and no matter how many times you’ve committed it. We don’t have space here to go into the whole theology of redemption, but the bottom line is that because of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, God has set the bar very low when it comes to forgiving our sins. Indeed, He has already done all the “heavy” work of redemption for us. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness with sincerity — and He will grant it.
The heart of the Christian gospel is mercy.
The problem is, Satan understands the concept of forgiveness too. He isn’t stupid. He can read the Bible as well as we can. So when he goes about the business of temptation, he’s extremely aware that the person he’s trying to destroy may thwart all his plans with a simple last-minute apology. Therefore his whole strategy must turn on something else — on an effort to ensure that the person he’s tempting doesn’t repent in the first place.
That’s why a good Christian is not someone who doesn’t ever sin, but rather, someone who repents every time he does. Ultimately, the definition of a successful life is one in which we repent one more time than we sin.
Which leads us back to the Cross. If we look at a Cross every single day and do it in a sincere and serious way, it’s bound to lead us to ask God to forgive our sins. It’s bound to lead us to repentance. Look, all of us are sinners. But we’ve got to wipe the slate clean — to completely surrender ourselves to the One who gave himself up for us on the Cross. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve committed a particular sin.
One drop of Christ’s blood is enough to wash away the sins of a billion universes.
And once that sin has been forgiven, it’s gone forever — along with all the other sins, offenses, obscenities, evils, and bad behavior of our past life — all of it gone and forgotten; dead and crucified.
That’s right — gone forever. That’s the teaching of Christianity. That’s the meaning of the cross. The Bible makes the solemn promise that once God forgives us, he “casts all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). And to that line, one spiritual writer has added: “Then God places a sign there that says: ‘No Fishing Allowed!’”
Written for Devotionals Daily by Anthony DeStefano, author of Hell: A Guide.
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Repentance isn’t something to avoid. It isn’t filled with shame, it’s the freeing of shame! Receive it! Your sins don’t have to weigh you down. They don’t have to be your story. Christ has already paid for them. All you have to do is receive. And don’t go fishing! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily