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I was reflecting recently on how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has thus far “managed” the situation involving now-former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, and thought to myself how glad I am that God doesn’t deal with me in the same way Goodell has dealt with Rice.
Allow me to explain.
As punishment for his actions, reprehensible as they were, toward his then-fiancée (now-wife), Janay, Ray Rice had initially been suspended two games by Roger Goodell. (As a side note, NFL suspensions are without pay.)
However, upon the recent release of the video of the incident on the elevator by the website TMZ, and the subsequent collective outcry for Rice’s head on a platter by those who comprise the court of public opinion, Roger Goodell then proceeded to amend Rice’s two-game suspension to what is now an indefinite suspension from the league.
This reactionary response by Goodell presents, to me anyway, a case of double-jeopardy, as Rice has now been made to pay twice for the same transgression.
Speaking theologically, there is a lesson here for us and it has to do with the unmerited, undeserved, unearned grace of God as manifested in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that secures the eternal salvation of those who believe in Him and protects them against “spiritual double-jeopardy”.
In 1 Peter 3:18, God’s Word reads, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He [Jesus] might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.” Conversely, Romans 6:10 reads, “For the death He [Jesus] died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.”
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was a one-time, definitive act which forever satisfied (propitiated) the wrath of God for the sins of those who place their faith in Him. For the believer in Christ, there is no sin that he or she could ever commit for which the blood of Christ is not sufficient to expiate.
Because of what Christ has already done, there should be no fear on the part of those who believe in Him of ever being placed in a position of “spiritual double-jeopardy”: that God would demand a second payment from us for the sins which Jesus Christ has already expiated on the cross.
Though none of us is sinless, it is God Himself who has provided a way for mankind to be made right with Him. The Bible says we are, “justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (John 3:16; Romans 3:23-25a).
The cross of Christ is why I am glad Roger Goodell is only NFL Commissioner and not God.
The cross is evidence to mankind that God means what He says; that His word can be trusted.
God doesn’t tell us one thing only to rescind or abrogate it later on (as is the case, for example, with Islam and the Qu’ran.) And although God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6), His chastisement is not indefinite. God’s mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The atoning death of Christ means that those who believe in Him can rest assured that a two-game suspension, to use NFL vernacular, will never turn into an indefinite one; that through Christ there is redemption and restoration available to any who are willing to respond to the call of God upon their heart to “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Unlike the word of Roger Goodell, God’s Word is fixed, firm and unchanging (Psalm 119:89).
Because of Christ, you never have to look over your shoulder out of fear that God will exact an additional punishment from you which He has already exacted upon His Son on your behalf.
There is no spiritual double-jeopardy with God.
The cross of Christ will forever be sufficient to atone for the sins of all who trust in Him.
Think about it.
In His service,