Off the hookby Rev. Grant Gunnink on 01/14/11
I'm always relieved when I do something wrong, or stupid or disobedient and I am spared the consequences of my actions. I'm also someone who is keenly aware of my own high expectations for how I like my house to be neat and organized and well kept up and it bothers me greatly when I can't meet these expectations. Often how I deal with it is to tell myself that its ok and lower my expectations. In both cases I'm being let off the hook.
We often try to explain what it means to be forgiven by God in the same way. We think God "lets us off the hook" by sparing us from the consequences of our actions or that He understands we can't meet his expecations of obedience but that at least we're trying.
In fact God doesn't spare us the consequences of our actions, forgiveness is that Jesus Christ experienced the ultimate consequence of our actions in our place. And God never lowers his standards of obedience for us, forgiveness is that Jesus Christ was able to keep those standards on our behalf.
When I understood who Jesus truly is - not a good moral teacher, but my substitute who allows God to forgive me - that changed my relationship with Him, and it changed my life. I hope understanding this truth will change your relationship with Him and your life too!