In Romans 11:35 Paul wrote: “Who has given a gift to God that God might be repaid?” (Who has entered into a business relationship with God?) Do you see? Any payment that you think you can give to God for your sin is a lie trying to pay for a lie.
God made all things with His Word.
So all things are a gift of grace.
And if all things are grace, you can’t earn anything because everything is free.
And what could you earn anything with? You didn’t create yourself.
When you try to pay for your sins, you are paying for nothing with nothing.
But when God in Christ Jesus pays for your sins, He’s paying for nothing with something.
He is filling your nothing with something. And what is that something? It’s His body broken and His blood shed.
It’s fruit from the tree of life…where He makes you in His own image.
In the place we tried to make ourselves in His image (the tree of knowledge), in that place, God makes us in His own image (the tree of life.) “Where sin increased grace abounded all the more…” at a tree in a garden…a tree we call the cross.
The medieval mystic Julian of Norwich wrote this after her famous vision:
“Ah, wretched sin! What are you? You are nothing. For I saw that God is all things: I saw nothing of you. And when I saw that God has made all things, I saw nothing of you; and when I saw that God is in all things, I saw nothing of you; and when I saw that God does all things that are done, greater and lesser, I saw nothing of you. And when I saw our Lord Jesus sitting so gloriously in our souls, and loving and liking and ruling and guiding all that he has made, I saw nothing of you…” —Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
Well, if, in fact, sin truly is nothing and we can only pretend to pay for sin with nothing…then, when you think you pay for your sins, you’re paying for nothing with nothing, which is more nothing. Or maybe you’re turning the nothing into something. You’re giving power to the lie–making, giving a place for the father of lies.
Now, sin may be NOTHING, but make no mistake, that nothing hurts God…
Like a wound in His side…where flesh and blood were taken from His side.
Like a wound in His side or a void in His being.
And yet, it is at the place of His wounds—the place that we wound Him—that we are healed, made whole, and created in His image.
Julian of Norwich also wrote this:
“God also showed me that sin is not shameful to man, but his glory; for in this revelation my understanding was lifted up into heaven; and then there came truly into my mind David, Peter, and Paul, Thomas of India and the Magdalene — how they are famous in the Church on earth with their sins as their glory. And it is no shame to them that they have sinned, any more than it is in the bliss of heaven, for there the badge of their sin is changed into glory…”
Sin is the sharpest scourge that any chosen soul can be struck with; it is a scourge which lashes men and women so hard, and batters them and destroys them so completely in their own eyes, that they think they only deserve to sink down into hell. But when the touch of the Holy Ghost brings contrition, it turns the bitterness into hope of God’s mercy…And so all shame will be turned into glory and into greater joy. And I am sure, by what I feel myself, that the more every well-natured soul sees this in the kind and generous love of God, the more loath he is to sin.” —Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
That’s bittersweet. We wounded our savior and “by his stripes we are healed.” Should we be thankful for that? Well, maybe we should thank Him for the space and time He created for our sin so that He might give Himself to us and through which He has created a channel so that He could fill us with grace—His body broken, and blood shed.
We can thank Him that in our weakness He is strong.
In the place we wound Him—pierce Him…
Instead of disobedience, there is mercy.
Instead of darkness, there is light.
Instead of lies, there is truth.
Instead of death, there is life.
Instead of emptiness, there is fullness.
Can you earn that kind of love and redemption?
But can Love find you in the midst of your emptiness and brokenness?
And He has. And He does. And He will!
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of devotional thoughts from Kimberly and excerpts from Peter’s sermon titled: “Thanks for Everything and Nothing.” To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: Thanks for Everything and Nothing
*Discussion questions are available here: 6.2.2013 Can We Earn Our Salvation? —Discussion Questions