Sometimes my daughter doesn’t want to finish the game. When she makes a costly mistake and she knows that her score will not be one of the best, she just pushes the button to start the video game over right away.
If there were a restart button in life, how many times would you have pushed it? Instead of picking up the pieces and having to work through the messes of your own doing, wouldn’t it seem nice to just start again?
All of us can relate to that. We have all made mistakes, and some have been very costly. They have cost us time, money, and even relationships. Sometimes we are able to turn those mistakes around, even seeing ways we have grown through the process and the mended bones prove to be stronger than before. Other times we just wish we could start over.
When Jesus walked on the earth he revealed God by his teachings and his activities. The major life philosophy of the day was if you do enough religious things, you can be in a right relationship with God. The main religious duties were things like the Ten Commandments: worship the right God, don’t make any idols, don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, and so on.
Jesus cut through that life philosophy. We often have a pretty favorable estimate of our talents and abilities. My daughter thinks she ought to set a new high score on her video game every time she plays. Most people think they do a good enough job at religion to earn God’s respect, but they don’t.
One time a rich young man came up to Jesus asking about eternal life. So far so good. He is asking the right person the right question. Jesus turned the tables on him asking him about how well he would score on the Ten Commandment final exam. The guy basically claimed he’d get 100.
Jesus gave the man a loving look and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The man returned to Jesus a deflated look, dropped his head, and walked away. The reason given is that the man had a lot of stuff––he was rich.
The point of that encounter was not that if the guy had only done a little more religion, he could have purchased eternal life. The point was this man’s heart. When our sinful hearts enter the equation no one passes religious exams.
Jesus said that obeying God is not only about not committing murder or adultery, but it also means not becoming angry at other people and not lusting after them in your heart (Matthew 5:21-30).
Is there hope for any kind of fresh start? Though we can’t do life over again, is there any way to be right with a holy and just God? Yes. You can be right with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the most famous sentences in the Bible is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That wonderful message is explained by other verses in the Bible.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Our bad thoughts and actions are sins against God. Even our half-hearted religious efforts are considered sinful. Just as you go to work and earn a paycheck, your sins have been adding up to a massive paycheck, death. Not just the separation of your soul from your body, but also the separation of you from God under his wrath in hell.
The good news is that God made a way for him to still be just and forgive you for all of your sins. He punished Jesus while he was dying on the cross in the place of sinners. Somebody had to be punished for our messes. As full deity, Jesus had the power to endure eternal punishment in six hours on the cross. His last words before he died were a victory cry, “It is finished!”
Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead. He is just as alive and you are as you read these words. His life proves the reality of what he said and did. His life means that you can live again! Turn from your sins and trust him.
One of the Bible writers put it like this, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
Jesus once told a man that he needed to be born again before he could ever see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Being born again sure sounds a lot like a fresh start to me. While it doesn’t make up for many of our earthly mistakes, it does change everything spiritually. God takes your sins and gives you his righteousness. Then he begins to change you from the inside out into the person he wants you to be.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Why don’t you tell God what is on your heart right now? If you want that fresh start through Jesus, just talk to him right where you are. He can hear you. He loves you. He made this incredible way for you to have a fresh start. He would love for you to come to him today.
By John Crotts