My senior year of high school I took a law course. One class period we were visited by two convicted men serving time in an Oregon state prison; one for armed robbery and the other for murder.
The men talked about the conditions they faced growing up, the influences that led them to lives of crime, details of their trials, and pain of being in prison. Both asserted their innocence.
When they finished telling their stories we were allowed to ask questions. I asked: if you were a judge sitting on a trial with your exact circumstances, would you find the person guilty, and what sentence would you give?
The thief said it was an interesting question, but both refused to answer.
It’s easy for us to judge others based upon our own circumstances.
See, I’m a pretty good boy. Sure, I’ve made some mistakes over the past 50 years, but overall … you’re still a far worse a person than I am. I can think of a hundred and one reasons to condemn you and excuse myself.
God, however, doesn’t judge us by how we compare to our neighbor but according to the standard of His Law, the Bible. Where we don’t measure up, where we miss the mark, God calls it sin and sin makes us guilty before God and deserving of punishment.
The punishment for our sins? The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), physical and spiritual death.
Yet God has done something remarkable. He sent His beloved Son to the earth to stand in your place at the sentencing hearing. Yes, you are guilty, but Jesus took your guilt upon Himself and died for your sins. To be saved you must accept what He gave without claiming innocence, shifting blame, or trying to add any of your own merit to the court case.
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9).