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“While We Were Yet Sinners”
Sunday, April 11, 2021
by Dr. Paul Chappell
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
In his book The Rise of the Dutch Republic, John Motley recounted a striking and true story of religious persecution in the sixteenth century and of grace and forgiveness being extend to one’s enemies. A man named Dirk Willemzoon was condemned to death for the “crime” of being an Anabaptist and refusing to follow the state religion. To save his life, he escaped across a frozen lake. Though he made it safely, the officer pursuing him fell through the ice. In response to his cry for help, Willemzoon returned and rescued him from certain death. Motley wrote, “Unfortunately for human nature, it cannot be added that the generosity of the action was met by a corresponding heroism. The officer was desirous, it is true, of avoiding the responsibility of sacrificing the preserver of his life, but the burgomaster of Asperen sternly reminded him to remember his oath. He accordingly arrested the fugitive, who, on the sixteenth of May following was burned to death under the most lingering tortures.”
Willemzoon did the truly unexpected and heroic as he put his own life and future in jeopardy to save his enemy. Jesus did something even greater: He fully and freely laid down His life for His enemies—the entire human race who was alienated from him by our own sin. Christ did not die for us because we were lovely or lovable. He died for us while we were His enemies.
In turn, He commands us to extend the same grace we have received to those who do us wrong. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). It is a poor response to the graciousness of God for us to be unforgiving and hold grudges against those who have done us wrong. God doesn’t ask us to justify what they have done or say it wasn’t wrong, but He does tell us to forgive them. Only through forgiving can we live like Jesus.
Today’s Growth Principle:
We forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because God commands it and because He forgave us.