I have a scar on my hand from an episode that occurred during my foolish teenage years.  It is apparent to no one but me, but it reminds me of where I was before Jesus found me. 

Whenever the subject of justification comes up in theological discussions, someone inevitably defines it as “Just As If I’d Never Sinned.”  I know what they mean, that when Christ justifies us, He cleanses us and makes us new.  To me, though, the thought of the evidence of my sinfulness being completely erased minimizes how lost I truly was.

Don’t misunderstand.  I don’t want to wear a scarlet letter on my forehead forever as penance for my past life.  I just think that to completely erase even the memory of my sinfulness is to deny Christ the proper credit for the amazing work He did for me on the cross.  

I think the psalmist understood this when he shared his testimony in Psalm 40: “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock.”

When I look at the scar on my hand, I don’t beat myself up because of my Christ-less past and all the poor choices that went with it.  All that is under the blood.  Forgiven.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to him who is in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 8:1)

When I see the scar on my hand, it reminds me of how lost I was without Christ, and how grateful I am that He had mercy on my soul and saved me,  cleansed me, and made me a new person.  The psalmist understood this when he said, “He has put a new song in my mouth-Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.”

Positionally before Christ, I stand as if I’ve never sinned, but my scar reminds me that I once was very lost.  I was eternally separated from God.  “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward (me) appeared, not by works of righteousness which (I have) done, but according to His mercy He saved (me), through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on (me) abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace (I) should become (an heir) according to the hope of eternal life.”

May my scar always remind me of how lost I was, and how saved I am.  John Newton, the 18th century slave trader put it this way, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” May his testimony always be in on our lips, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me . . . I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

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