As a teenager, I used to play golf frequently at the Tenison Golf Course in Dallas. One of the first times I played, I hit a terrible drive off the tee. Someone said, “Take a mulligan.” I learned that “mulligan” was just another word for “do-over.”
There is nothing like a do-over. Grace through Jesus is the ultimate do-over.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
A do-over is what so many of us want and desperately need from God.
We would like to be forgiven. We would like to be washed clean of our sins and failures. Many of us look back at the last decade, the last year, or even yesterday and realize how we have strayed from the desires of God. Maybe, you know all too well that you desperately need the grace of God.
The sins that are mentioned in I Corinthians 6 are all too familiar. Consider some of them: Those who are dishonest, those who are sexually immoral, those who swindle others and the list goes on. Paul tells these people that this is what some them were (6:11). “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and By the Spirit of our God.” Today, as in Paul’s day, Jesus gives each one of us the opportunity to experience the ultimate redemptive d0-over.
It may seem obvious that some need a d0-over. After all, they did something really bad. We know we have sins but theirs seem so much worse. Yet, even the best people need Jesus. The truth is that we make a big mistake when we focus on those who have committed certain sins while minimizing our own.
Every single one of us desperately needs Jesus. In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), both the rebellious younger brother and the self-righteous older brother need Jesus.
Consider two kinds of people:
The “Younger Brother or Sister” This person lives a lifestyle of sin and may be in complete rebellion to God. As a woman told me on one occasion, “Nobody is going to tell me what to do.” She was involved in a lifestyle that tore apart her family and seriously hurt her children. Yet, she was determined to do what she wanted to do. She didn’t care what anyone thought and more importantly, didn’t seem to care what God thought about the choices she was making. Fortunately, she eventually returned to her senses. She surrendered to the will and the desires of Jesus and her life was changed.
The “Older Brother or Sister” This person wrestles with sin as well. Yet, in her mind, her sins are not near as bad as the sins of the prodigal son or daughter. She would quickly acknowledge that “we all sin” and yet, she treats others as if their sins are far worse than her own. Like the older brother in Luke 15, she may resent that some who have changed their lives for God are getting so much attention and affirmation. In fact, she may even resent that the prodigal son was forgiven. In her mind, the prodigal son might be better off if God would occasionally remind him of his past sins.
The good news of the Gospel is that in the cross, God’s love is big enough to forgive the unrighteous and the self-righteous. Now that is good news!