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"A Just God and a Savior" (posted June 2, 2004)

There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.
   - Isaiah 45:21

There is in all persons a certain knowledge of good and evil. But perhaps no two persons fix exactly the same standard either of good or evil. For instance, the drunkard thinks there is no great harm in drinking, but would consider it a great sin to steal. Each congratulates himself upon not having done some evil, and compares himself with someone else who has committed the sin which he thinks he has managed to avoid.

All this proves that men do not judge themselves by one regular fixed standard of right and wrong, but take just that which suits themselves and condemns others. But there is a standard with which all will be compared; and that is no less than the righteousness of God.

The scribes and Pharisees mentioned in the eighth chapter of John were very moral and religious people, and were greatly shocked when they found a wretched woman taken in open sin. It comforts and quiets the depraved heart of man if he can only find a person worse than himself.

But this is not all; for not only do men thus glory and exult in the fall and ruin of another, but they cannot bear to see or think of God exhibiting grace. Grace--which means the full and free forgiveness of every sin, of every evil, without God demanding or expecting anything from the one forgiven--is a principle so opposed to all man's thoughts and ways that he dislikes it; his own heart often secretly calls it injustice. It is very humbling to own that we are dependent upon grace entirely for salvation; and that nothing we have done, and nothing we can in future do, has made us, or will make us, fit subjects even for grace; but that our misery and sin and ruin are the only claim we have upon grace.

"Such should be stoned," say the scribes and Pharisees. "But what do You say?" (John 8:5).

True, the sentence was just, the proof of the woman's guilt was undoubted, and the law was clear; but who was to execute the law? "He that is without sin...let him first cast a stone at her," Jesus replied. Who could say "without sin"? And, if not one of them could say, "I am without sin," there was not one of them who was not under the same sentence as the woman: that is, death, for "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23).

Have you thought of that--that you and all the world are guilty before God? You may be able to persuade yourself that you are not so bad; you may find others manifestly worse; but are you a sinner at all? Does not even your own conscience say, "I am not quite without sin"? Well, then, death is the sentence. God cannot lie. It is His sentence.

If we only heard that God was just, there could be no hope. But He is "a just God and a Savior." He has condemned, and He has also the power to execute; the only question that remains is, Can He pardon?

"And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." She was standing before One who could say "without sin," and who therefore could cast the stone. The law had already condemned her; would He execute it? Everything rested on His word. "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (John 8:11).

And so it is still. If you desire to have God's full and free pardon, it must be your place to stand first as the guilty sinner. Not to make resolutions of amendment, not to try to get better first, before you come to Him; but to be brought to Him by your very sins, to stand in the very place of condemnation, and before the very Person who has the power to condemn.

And the Lord gave her no conditional pardon. He did not say, "Neither will I condemn you, if you will not sin anymore." No, He gives her full and complete forgiveness first; He knew that would enable her to avoid the sin in future. If you desire to have power over your sins, you must first know them all pardoned by God through Christ. But if you try to master your evil before you know the forgiveness of God, you will obtain neither the one nor the other. Through faith in Jesus you must be justified freely from all things before you will ever be cleared as before God.

Let your peace come from faith in the blood of His cross, by which He has made peace. May you know the peace and joy of having all your sins forgiven through faith in the blood of Jesus, and the consequent victory over the power of those very sins by which you have been led captive.

John N. Darby (excerpted)

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