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TONY ELDER: We are all sinners who need God’s forgiveness

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

In addition to being a fan of old movies in general, I have always enjoyed in particular some of those films directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Maybe that seems strange for a pastor since Hitchcock’s movies aren’t exactly the type of inspirational and uplifting material you might view on the Hallmark Channel. I think it’s his method of generating suspense which appeals to me, along with his being able to mix a little light humor into those otherwise dark situations.

Recently, I watched one of those Hitchcock flicks which I hadn’t seen before, “The Wrong Man.” It’s about someone who is mistakenly accused of being a robber.

This theme of mistaken identity was a favorite subject for Hitchcock. He liked to show how an innocent person could suffer all kinds of trouble simply from being misidentified or falsely accused.

Most of us have likely found ourselves being “the wrong person” at some point. Maybe as a child we were punished for something one of our siblings did. Or in our adult years we got a phone call or knock on the door from a bill collector looking for someone with the same name as ours.

It’s not always easy to prove our innocence, and sometimes we may end up suffering unjustly.

However, when God identifies us as being lost sinners, along with all the rest of humanity, we would do well not to claim that He has the wrong man or woman. God’s Word has clearly declared that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).

Our tendency is to want to deny that accusation. We try to make excuses for our behavior or blame someone else. We compare ourselves to others and point out how much better we are than those contemptible people.

We list all of our good qualities, along with some of the admirable, even religious, things we do. We’re kind to animals. We don’t steal. We haven’t murdered anyone. We go to church. We pray at times. Maybe we even read columns in the religion section of the local newspaper.

However, none of us have gone through life without sinning against a holy God. The Bible states. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).

We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re good enough to please God and get to heaven based on our own goodness and innocence. We all need forgiveness.

And the pathway to finding it isn’t by denying our sin. On the contrary, the Bible goes on to say, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Admitting our need and our guilt is the way to experience God’s forgiving grace.

If anyone knows what it means to be “the wrong man,” it’s Jesus. He’s the only one who has ever lived on this earth who could claim complete innocence and purity.

Yet, He was falsely accused, was forced to undergo great suffering, and was executed. He was the wrong man. We were the ones who deserved to suffer for our sins.

But thankfully Jesus was also the right man. He was the only one who could take our punishment upon Himself and be the unblemished sacrifice for our sins. No one else could have provided forgiveness and salvation for us.

So when God says we’re sinners or points out some specific sin in our lives, let’s not claim He’s got the wrong man. Let’s own up to our guilt. As we do, let’s put our trust in the right Man for the forgiveness and cleansing we need.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.