Do you ever play back mistakes you’ve made in your head? I (Laine) know I do. I run through all the what-ifs and cringe at my mess-ups. I dream about changing this bit or that bit, or better yet, erasing the entire event completely, like I can with a poorly written paragraph. Of course, that’s impossible, though. A word document is editable; life is not. We all crave perfection, but it’s impossible to obtain.
Or is it?
What if there was someone who, when they looked at you, didn’t see those mistakes? What if there was someone who forgave you, even for things you find hard to forgive yourself for? What if there was someone who could not only edit your life, but completely change it, who could take away your old, dirty document and give you a new, clean one?
There is. His name is Jesus, and He changed our lives. We would really love to tell you about Him.
We’ve all made mistakes in our lives. We’ve lied when we should have told the truth, were selfish when we should have put someone else first, were rude to our parents when we should have listened—and it hurts. It hurts not only the people in our lives, and not just us looking back, wishing we had done something different. It hurts the holy Creator of the Universe, the one perfect being to ever exist: God.
These mistakes are bigger than simple regrets in our lives. They are sins, or crimes a just and good God. And the gut-wrenching truth is, we’ve all committed them. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). People usually think of themselves as more or less good, but that only works when you measure against other people. However, when we measure ourselves against a completely perfect, completely holy God, we see don’t even register on the scale. He is infinitely more good than us, and we are infinitely more evil.
That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Consider: if you've ever lied, then you are by your own admission, a liar. If you've ever stolen anything, even just a piece of paper, then you are a thief. Jesus says that if you are angry with your brother, then you have murdered him in your heart (Matthew 5:21-22). So, if you've ever been angry with someone, you're a murderer.
And even we—a group of lying, thieving murderers—know that when someone commits a crime, that crime deserves to be punished. God is perfectly good and perfectly just, so He has to punish sin. The Bible says, “The wages of sin,” (what we earn for ourselves when we sin), “is death” (Romans 6:23a). We all deserve this punishment, deserve to suffer not only a physical death on Earth, but a spiritual death for all eternity (since God is eternal, and it’s Him we sin against). However, there is good news—someone else paid this punishment for us, and we can be forgiven if we repent of our sins and believe in Him. Because the wages of sin may be death, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
Because we’ve all sinned, we are incapable of being ‘good enough’ to meet God’s standards of perfection. We’ve already broken His laws. So our only hope is in someone other than ourselves, someone greater than ourselves: Jesus Christ.
Jesus is both truly God and truly man. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-3, 14a). This Word is another name for Jesus. It’s important we believe the Bible when it teaches that Jesus is both truly human and truly God. If He isn’t human, then He cannot pay the human punishment we deserve; if He’s not God, then He can’t pay the eternal punishment we deserve.
The one and only true God humbled Himself to live as one of us. He was born of a virgin, fulfilling a prophecy made over seven-hundred years before (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23). He grew up, and even though He “has been tempted in all things as we are,” He lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).
And, even though he'd done nothing wrong, he willingly died on a cross to pay the punishment for our sins. He died the death we deserve, and He did it because He loves us. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). We are imperfect, rebellious, hateful, evil sinners, but the Creator of the Universe allowed Himself to be beaten, spat upon, mocked, and killed in order to save us.
The Bible says, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the cross, Jesus took on our sins, so that those who put their faith in Him can have His perfection. Once someone believes in Jesus as their only chance of salvation, God doesn’t see their mistakes, their sins, or their crimes anymore. Instead, He sees the righteous perfection of His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus didn’t stay dead, though. Three days after His sacrifice on the cross, He came back to life, defeating death and displaying His deity. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father. “Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34).
God would be completely just if he wiped all of humanity off of the face of the earth and sent them to eternal punishment. Instead, He made a way for us to be with Him in eternity through Jesus Christ our Lord. So how does this relate to you?
The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If you want to be forgiven, you have to understand that you are a helpless sinner, unable to save yourself and that your only hope is Jesus Christ. You also have to repent—to regret and turn away—from your sins and follow after Jesus. This isn’t a ‘good thing’ you do to get saved. After all, the Bible says that “whatever is not done in faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Instead, it is a change of heart.
We see that it’s the heart that matters in Romans 10: "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). Repentance and faith are internal changes resulting in external actions; this is how you know if you’ve been saved.
When God saves us, He changes us. He takes out our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh, gives us a spiritual birth, and makes us a new creature (Ezekiel 11:19-20; John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). He sees us not as rebellious sinners deserving of punishment, but as His sons and daughters wearing the righteousness of His Son (2 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
And you know something amazing? Throughout our life, He takes us and all our imperfections and molds us to become more like Him and His perfect Son, Jesus (Romans 8:28-30; James 1:2-4; Philippians 1:6). In eternity with God, there will be no death, no pain, and no sin (Revelation 21:4, 27). We will worship the perfect God in person, and we, who used to be sinners but were saved by His grace—we will finally be perfected.
With love and hope,
Laine and Aria Nichols
If you want to know more, it’s all in the Bible. That is the unfailing, completely true Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17). You can get a free physical copy at most churches, or you access it online here: http://bit.ly/2EuD4Dz.
We recommend starting in one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John). You’re also welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love talking about the Bible, and we would love to talk to you if you have questions.