Finding Grace in the Sinner's Place
When you no longer have to cover up your unrighteousness with self-righteousness.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin." — Psalm 32:5 (NIV)
In Stanley Voke’s wonderful little book, Personal Revival: Living the Christian Life in Light of the Cross, he writes, “The hardest thing for anyone is to take the sinner’s place.”
Simply put, the sinner’s place is where I take the blame, own my sin without excuse or defense. It is the place where I am real—morally honest and spiritually vulnerable.
Nobody naturally runs to the sinner's place. We resist it like a five-year-old facing a plate of boiled Brussel Sprouts.
But the Spirit knows what is good for me, and what is good for my marriage and every other relationship. So, he leads me (sometimes kicking and screaming) to the sinner's place. Not to condemn, but to help me see Jesus stand in the sinner's place for me.
In the gospel, the cross is the ultimate sinner’s place.
When I am honest with myself, God, and others, about the reality of my sin and need for rescue, the sinner’s place becomes, in Voke's words,
“The place of true peace, for here I cease my strivings and find God… Here I cast away my pretense, and admit who I really am. Here I come to Jesus to be cleansed by his precious blood. Here the Holy Spirit fills and holiness is found. Here are the springs of revival.”
Standing without excuse in the sinner’s place is a painful and humiliating experience. And yet, at the same time, the sinner’s place is unexpectedly liberating.
Having attempted to cover my unrighteousness with self-righteousness, I discover, as I approach that place of shame, the Father covers me with a robe of perfect righteousness, earned with the perfect obedience of the Son.
At the sinner's place, wonder of wonders, rather than judgement, I receive mercy.
This is gospel freedom. I no longer have to cover my unrighteousness with self-righteousness. I don't have to fear the exposure of my flesh but am given a hero in whom to boast and glory.
Who knew that the sinner's place was the gateway to immeasurable grace?
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