Is it because you think you should be punished?
In the Philippines just before Easter, men will whip and beat themselves until they are bloodied almost into death. Some have been known to try crucifixion. It is known as SELF-FLAGELLATION – “the act of hitting yourself with a whip as a way to punish yourself or as part of a religious ritual.”
A guy in South Texas said to me, “Man, I’ve really been an idiot.” He had no church background. He didn’t understand “churchy” language. He really didn’t even know what sin was. All he knew was that he had been an idiot; almost ruined his life. He felt hopeless because he thought he had been an idiot and needed punishment.
I told him about Jesus, the Savior, but when I tried to take a positive approach for his salvation, he kept coming back to how big of an idiot he was and how he needed to be “smacked up ‘side da hayud.” [Texas slanguage] He was mentally and emotionally broken. It seemed that his only answer to peace was self-flagellation.
The two thieves who were crucified with Jesus explored self punishment both knowing they had done wrong. “One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: ‘Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!’ But the other one made him shut up: ‘Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. WE DESERVE THIS, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.’”
Luke 23:39-43 (msg)
You may think you have been an idiot. It may seem as though there is no hope. It may look like God’s forgiveness is too easy – that your sin is too great and your only hope is to have your legs broken. God’s answer through Christ is, “DON’T WORRY!” Worry, self punishment, hopelessness, fear, doubt and anxiety are not the answer to “idiocy” and sin!
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.”
Ephesians 2:1-6 (msg)
“Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the Bright and Morning Star
Shed His beams around me
“Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever;
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
“In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever,
Till my ransomed soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.”