To be imprisoned with no hope of parole must be one of the most crushing sentences for any man. Yet the Bible says that all men, in their sins, are spiritually locked-up for life, with no hope of parole. Paul writes in Galatians 3:22a (esv), “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin…”
One modern criminal justice textbook says the history of parole began when a Scot named Alexander Maconochie, a captain in the British Royal Navy, was appointed superintendent of some penal colonies in Australia.
“Believing prisoners were capable of reform, he developed a plan to prepare them for their eventual return to society. He divided his system into three grades, with each offering more life outside prison. Prisoners could earn promotions through labor, study, and good behavior.”
[J.Samaha’s, Criminal Justice, 7th Ed.]
Paroled prisoners may live outside the prison as long as they obey the laws of the land and do not violate the terms of their release. While this may help convicts rejoin society, there is no spiritual equivalent to parole to help men regain fellowship with God our Maker. There is no release or freedom from our imprisonment in sin for ‘good behavior’ or by keeping the laws of God. You cannot undo your guilt before God by improving your attitude or your actions — not even by keeping all the laws of God (if that were possible).
Paul said it bluntly in Galatians two: “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law … because by works of the law no one will be justified.” This is makes the sinner’s predicament perfectly clear: your good behavior, your best “works” or law keeping cannot put you right with the Lord. All men and women still in their sin stand condemned before a holy God.
But Paul also wrote to make clear the good news — the gospel of Jesus Christ — as stated in the rest of that same verse (2:16): “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” The good news is that by trusting Jesus Christ — the perfect man, the Son of God the perfect law-keeper — we can be put right with God.
The joyous message of the Bible is simply this: there is a pardon for guilty, convicted sinners! Not merely a parole, conditioned on your behavior, but a full and free pardon based on the person of Jesus Christ. Having faith in Jesus — His sinless life, His perfect law-keeping, His victory over death and the grave — faith in Him saves you, and frees you.
It was 34 years ago today — July 11th, in 1978 — that I turned from trusting in my religious good works and put my faith in Jesus. That very day I was set free from my prison of sin and guilt by the amazing grace of God! Oh what blessings are mine because of Christ! My hope of heaven is grounded on Him, not on me. Amazing grace indeed! As this new “Coffee Rings” blog gets underway, I thought it important to share this brief look at the gospel, and extend to any and all our readers its offer of pardon and freedom in Christ.