Statute of Limitations
You know what? I was kind of a quiet wild-child when I was younger. I did my best to stay out of trouble mostly by not doing things that were blatantly illegal, and doing a good job of hiding all the nasty things I did otherwise. Prompted by a recent TBT (Throw Back Thursday) photo that I shared on my Facebook page, a friend was reminded of some of our hijinks, and stated how thankful he was for the statute of limitations! That, got me to thinking.
Some earthly laws in this country have what is called a statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations are written laws passed in order to restrict the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings can be brought, even when certain crimes have been committed. While the crimes that I committed may have been minor infractions in light of civil law (soaping windows, putting laundry soap in public fountains, dropping eggs from the top floor of the parking garage, stringing tin [yes, TIN] cans across the street, throwing snowballs at cars, riding in a car with someone I knew did not have a drivers license etc.), they were still crimes against the law, and sins in the eyes of God. I may not have been held accountable for those actions, and the statute of limitations may have expired on those crimes, I am guilty of them nonetheless.
While earthy laws have such limitations, and time periods under which charges have to be brought and penalties are due, the standards of man are not the standards of God. Under the laws of most States in the U.S, the penalty due to be paid fore the commission of a crime, goes away after a certain period of time. Your slate is wiped clean. With God, things are completely different.
With God, time does not wipe out your transgressions. Simply hiding from your sin, not talking about it, trying to forget it, pretending those things never happened does not absolve you of the responsibility and penalty for those choices you made. With God, His standard is perfection. As a matter of fact, Matthew 5:48 says,
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Perfection? Yes, perfection. ‘But no one can ever be perfect’, you say. That is also correct. While God does not offer a statute of limitations on your sin, He has offered you something better. Pure Salvation, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
While crimes against the State keep you at odds with the State and their law enforcement agency, so too do your sins keep you at odds with God. Scripture says that we as sinners are at enmity with God. James 4:4 tells us:
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Enmity is a fancy word that means the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. This beings new meaning and understanding to the relationship troubles this causes you with God. I do not know about you, but being actively opposed to God? How do you think God will (or for that matter should) react to someone who is actively hostile towards Him? Rather then sounding like a warm and fuzzy relationship, living a life of unrepentant sin (Mark 2:17), being at enmity with God actually sounds more like outright war! It’s a conscious action I’m taking, it is an act that requires my time, my thought, real effort, and something I’m constantly doing. As a matter of fact, Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines enmity as the “opposite of agape love“. I’m fairly certain that is not a place I want to find myself – at war with God. Actively warring with God. Ugh.
Thankfully, while God may not offer a statute of limitations for sin, He offers one better – total forgiveness through His Son. If we are repentant of our sin, confess those sins before God, and commit to move forward with Jesus as our Lord and Savior, those sins we had, will be forgotten as if they never existed at all. We are told they will be removed from us as fr as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). This is indeed good news.
You see, God is a righteous God. And if God is going to be righteous and just, then there must be a penalty for sin. Just as with any just ruler or government, there are consequences for action that break the rules. The same is true for God. Since perfection is the standard we are to be judged by, and we all fall short of that standard, then a price must be paid. Jesus paid that price for us. His death on the cross at Golgotha paid that price so that you and I might have our relationship restored with God.
Yes, the statute of limitations in this country is nice, but I’m so much for thankful God’s Grace to forgive me, and His Son for paying the price for my dismal failures.