Have we stolen? Do we have in our possession that which does not belong to us? Are we thieves?
Have we taken money that does not belong to us?
Have we downloaded and shared songs or videos that are copyrighted?
Have we written papers, books, or sermons that are not our own and taken credit?
Have we damaged someone’s property, noticed no one watching, and left without any attempt to restore value?
Have we misused or misappropriated office assets, supplies, or finances?
Have we abused our expense accounts and reports?
Have we participated in pornography, pre-marital sex, or or adultery and taken someone’s spouse in our arms?
Have we backed out of a business contract, saving ourselves money, but harming one to whom we gave our word?
Have we poorly stewarded the finances given us by the Lord? Have we failed to be “hilarious givers?”
Have we not given our children the education or parental discipleship they need?
Have we robbed someone — private or public — of their good reputation by means of slander or gossip?
Have we stolen the glory of God by boasting and taking credit for something the Lord has done through us?
Have we not given God the worship, praise, adoration, and supplication he deserves?
Have we withheld the selfless agape love we promised our spouse on our wedding day?
Have we held a grudge, kept a record of sin, and withheld Christlike forgiveness to whom to whom it is due?
Have we failed to give honor and obedience to someone in a God-ordained position of authority?
Have we kept silent, preferred our comfort, and robbed a hell-bound neighbor of the Gospel invitation?
Have we lent to the poor but charged them exorbitant interest?
Have we not paid our proper taxes?
Have we been slothful in work and are now trusting your fellow citizens to pick up the welfare tab?
Have we not given the full work-week, or full benefit, or appropriate value for money paid?
Have we withheld just wages from our vendors or employees?
Friends, there is not one without sin. There is not one who has fully and perpetually kept the 8th commandment. None of us have given God or our neighbors all they deserve. We are all criminals.
But on this Good Friday, there is Good News:
Luke 23:32-43 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” … One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus paid it all for one of the two criminal. Jesus paid it all for the one thief who, instead of denying his sin, confessed, repented, and responded with faith. Yes, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, full pardon, immediate reconciliation, and eternal paradise was granted. And it was received by faith alone — without restitution, purgatory, sacrament, obedience, performance, or work.
Therefore friends, what sort of criminal are we today?
Are we the sort of criminal who denies our sin nature and receives not the benefits of Jesus Christ?
1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Are we the sort of criminal who confesses our sins and receives full pardon, immediate reconciliation, eternal paradise, and a new heart that wishes to steal less – all through a righteous advocate named Jesus Christ?
1 John 1:9-2:1 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.