You find yourself crouched in the dank corner of a narrow cell – the unmistakable outline of steel bars covering the front side. Faint fluorescent light buzzes into your eyes, keeping you awake in the deep sweat of night. What will I do with myself now? your brain asks you. You don’t know. How did you even get here? Where is here? You must have done something wrong. Horribly wrong, from the feel of things. You shift your weight – it’s uncomfortable to sit on your haunches without moving, but somehow the very back corner of the cell feels safest.
There are footfalls coming. Terror. You feel yourself getting smaller, shrinking by willpower. Can’t.. be… seen. Must hide. So guilty. Are you going to send me to the executioner? you wonder. Why do you feel so guilty? The sound of footsteps stops. Voices. Two men are talking about something. They’re talking about you. You hear your name. The details are muffled; it seems they are still a way off from your cell. You hold your breath – what are they saying? Why is your skin so clammy? You break into an uncomfortable soaking sweat that makes squatting in the corner feel even guiltier.
Here come the footfalls again. Heavy shoes. Is there anyone else locked up in here? It feels empty. Your own personal prison, maybe. You wouldn’t dare utter a sound – could be dangerous people around. Voices again, with the footsteps this time. You feel your heart beating like a tympani drum, taut, deep, booming. They might hear it. Shhhh. Stop that.
The figure of a policeman appears in the fuzzy light outside of the bars. Your heart catches in your throat – you can’t see the eyes, but you feel them. Examining you. Checking your thoughts. You’re paralyzed in the grip of his gaze. The other man peeks around at you from over the examiner’s shoulder. A word is mumbled. What was that? What are they saying about you? You caught a syllable, but not enough to piece anything together.
Then you notice it: the cell door is open all the way. When did that happen? The policeman shifts and takes a few steps toward you, into your space. You can see his face now. What is that? A young man – he looks… friendly? Who is this?
“Rrrr” you croak. You meant to say something. His friendly face is now in full view as he bends down in front of you. “Rrrr, rrrRrRrrr…” you try again. Only noises. The other man now is standing over behind the policeman, looking down at you. Your lungs are burning with pent up words. You fearfully meet his gaze. Friendly. “RRrr.. whhh… wwwhhooo?” You’ve said a word now. “Who.” The iceberg of fear around your heart breaks apart a little bit. These men haven’t come to hurt you. They can see your fear, your guilt. Your sense of doom, even. But your fears are melting. What is that now? More than friendliness? Their eyes are full of… care for you? Care? For you? You feel so guilty – so dirty.
A hand is on your hand, which is still greedily gripping your shin. A moment of terror returns, but is instantly vaporized by the warmth and softness of the policeman’s hand on yours – he is speaking. What? I’m sorry, what are you saying, sir?
He pauses, and speaks again – “well?”
“Well”? Well what?
“Why are you here again?” He smiles.
What is this? Are you dreaming? You begin to recall something, like seeing the faint outline of a road sign through a hazy night fog. You’ve been here a long time. A very long time.
“Whh… where am I?” Both men chuckle softly.
“Forgotten again?” asks the policeman.
The policeman fills your view, crouching now himself – right in your face. His eyes are full of light… “how many times do we need to find you in here before you will believe us?” His breath is sweet, you notice.
You look up at the other man. Judge’s robes. File in hand. Your name on the file. A stamp across your name. “Cleared”.
“That’s right,” says the policeman. Now you’re remembering, aren’t you? Your hands loosen from your legs, you blink wildly. You’ve been here before. Many times. All the time. The policeman turns his head to look at the judge. They seem to exchange something without words as he stands up again, and both men look back down at you – you’re feeling like the corner of this cell is the very silliest place in the world to be crouched.
“You don’t belong in this prison,” the judge says to you – his voice is also warm, friendly.
They take you by the hands and begin to lift you to your feet. All sense of doom and fear is faded: an embarrassing memory now, quickly losing any last bits of a hold they had on you just a minute before.
What were you doing here, again?
The judge slings his robe over your head – you had been naked. “Why do you keep losing your clothes?” he asks gently, a hand now on your shoulder. “Let’s go home, son (daughter).”
The Silliness of Re-imprisoning Yourself in the Cell of Guilt
My dear Christian, what are you doing in that unlocked cell of guilt? The Law has no power to condemn you any longer – it is rendered powerless over you because the Judge has declared you innocent. You are cleared of all charges. The Law is now your friend, your guilt is a feeling that truly indicates true sins, no doubt, but it is no longer your proper home. It is no longer the place for you to live.
Why do you insist on living here?
The Judge of the universe sent His Son to bear your punishment. He willingly became your sin and guilt, and executed your death for you. Your death has been executed in the body of Jesus Christ (1. read again and internalize 2. repeat 3. give thanks!).
You are free to live in the Judge’s home now, wearing His robes (Matt. 19:28-9; 1 Cor. 6:3).
Don’t be caught trembling like an amnesiac in the prison of guilt, whose warden is surely the Deceiver. All he has as a power against you is a lie. He accuses, you point to the cross of Christ.
Be freed! That door is unlocked, silly.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Rom. 8:1-4 ESV
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man [Jesus] is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-9 NKJV
Need I go on, or is your amnesia lifting again? Return to the cross!
Thanks for reading,