There’s a story about a king who pardoned two criminals that were on death row. Minutes before they were to be killed for their crimes, he issued the pardon. So just like that, both men could now go free.
But the reactions of the two criminals were totally different. The first criminal whose sentence had been commuted was full of joy, excitement, and enthusiasm. He was shouting and screaming as he looked at the pardon, “What joy to know that I was on my way to death and I have been given life, and not because of anything I have done.”
The other criminal stood trembling and thinking to himself, “Can this really be true? Is this a joke? Nobody would ever do anything like this for me. Look at what I have done!” He was terrified and instead of feeling the joy of the first criminal, he felt miserable.
In fact, the second criminal tried to discourage the joy of the first criminal by telling him not to get too excited. He tried to convince him that the pardon itself might not even be real.
Because the first criminal believed the pardon, he had both the assurance and joy of his release. Because the second criminal questioned the pardon, he had neither the joy nor the assurance of his release. One criminal looked at the piece of paper believed it. The other criminal looked inside of himself and because what he saw was doubt, it robbed him of the joy of his assurance.
Here’s the point: If you’re in Jesus, you’ve been pardoned by the King. You were on spiritual death row and instead of receiving what you deserve, you’ve been granted life. That free gift of God isn’t a result of your thoughts, words, or actions. It’s a free gift from the King. Don’t let guilt, doubt, or shame from your past rob you of the assurance of your salvation!
“Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22 NLT)