The Difference Between Not Guilty and Innocent

. . . and How You Can Live Free Of Fear!

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, October 3, 2015

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Today’s Scripture:

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:6–7).

Today’s Observation:

I am going to go ahead and let you know ahead of time that today’s devotional thought is going to be great! There, I said it. Now, let’s begin.

If a message is so incredible that it is represented in the Revelation as being delivered by a flying angel with a loud voice, speaking to every single person on earth, we had better pay attention. Check out what he had in his possession at the time of his announcement—the everlasting gospel. Then he said that the hour of God’s judgment was come, and that we should worship the Creator of all things. I told you this was going to be great!

Now, here’s my first question: Is fear always a bad thing? If I am asking you in this manner, you know something’s up. No, no is the answer. The Bible says, “THERE was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” (Job 1:1). So, fearing God is somehow related to detesting and avoiding evil. The Bible also says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: And the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10). So, the fear of the Lord is the starting point of receiving wisdom and holy understanding. Did you know that in the Bible, Jesus is our Wisdom (see Proverbs 8; 1 Corinthians 1:22-30). If anyone lacks wisdom, we can ask of God and we will receive it (or Him), by faith (James 1:5).

You’re doing well. Now, for my second question: Is judgment always a bad thing (i.e. condemnation)? Let me ask you this way: If I were on trial for some heinous crime I did not commit, there was no good evidence to even suggest that I did it, and nobody was setting me up, what should the outcome, or judgment be? If you said not guilty, you’d be 100% correct. Don’t get lost here. The Bible says that judgment begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). Further, the Bible says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [or the need to be afraid of God—different that what we have already described]; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:17–19). Therefore, if a person has the fear of the Lord, which detests evil, the Wisdom that Christ is, and is perfected in love, judgment for them is a discovery of their innocence.

You will notice that I did a switch-a-roo on you just now. In my earlier analogy, I spoke of a not guilty verdict, which is nice. However, I just spoke of innocence. The difference is that one who is considered not guilty, may not necessarily be innocent. They could quite possibly have done the crime, but somehow were still exonerated. However, in the courts of heaven, when a person accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, the unprejudiced Law of God sees that person as though that person were Jesus Christ Himself. And we know that Jesus never sinned.

This is where the message of the everlasting gospel comes in. What many fail to realize is that Salvation is all about what God does in the life of people of faith. Even our responses to His overtures and our necessary cooperation are done with power we borrowed from Him. The love, faith, repentance, submission of our will, power to obey the whole Law of God, etc., were all given to us as gifts (1 John 4:19; Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 2:4; Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:3-4). Please pray over and study these verses. This is why God commands obedience! He has written His Law in our hearts, and offered His Holy Spirit so we can do exactly what He says without reservation. He said we are to be holy, because He is holy. When we receive all of these gifts by faith, we then can live holy lives in full submission to God.

Thus it is that the everlasting gospel has the power to move us from the realm of death in sin and trespasses, to eternal life in Christ Jesus with no record of wrongdoing, since our righteousness is now actually the right life of Jesus Christ in our stead. And thus it is that the accuser of the brethren is cast down.

For the person who lives in submission to God’s will, there is no evidence of sin. They are innocent in the eyes of God. Judgment for such a person is sweet!

I do not need to write a dissertation for you to understand what condemnation looks like. We know this all-too-well. If we refuse to confess and forsake our sins, we will be condemned. God has given us the most incredible plan to be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness. It is the height of disrespect to refuse the plan, but it is indeed our choice.

Conclusion:

I just wanted to give a quick primer on the gospel, the two faces of judgment, and the fear of the Lord. Over the next couple of days, we will unpack this angel’s message more fully. We absolutely cannot get a good picture in just one day of reading.

Now that you are primed and ready to go, be prayerful and be prepared to experience the beauty and mystery of this phase of judgment in future posts. This is, after all, still a prophetic vision. We need to actually study it in order to receive the blessing.

A Prayer for Your Hearts:

Lord, thank you for giving us an incredible Word today. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen

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