RELIGION COLUMN: The penalty and power of the hammer

Published 7:05 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013

By Jake McCall

I have a painting that was given to me by a friend, and it is a picture of a man holding a large hammer in one hand and big railroad spike nails in the other hand.

In this picture, the man is shown to be limp and without strength, and he is being embraced and held up from behind by Jesus. You are aware that it is Jesus because the picture shows the wounds in His hands.

The reason that I am describing that painting for you is because it is a perfect description of what Jesus has done for us. He has rescued us and embraced us from continuing to try and crucify Him. Though we never really consider ourselves as bad as we really are, our sinfulness is nothing less than rebellion against God in such a way that we take the hammer and take the nails and drive them into Christ in such a way that we are saying get back on that cross and stay there.

On the cross, Jesus took our hammering and our nailing to the point where it crucified Him. He took our hatred of Him to be a sacrifice for you and for me in order to save us. This is to say that as we come with blood on our hands – holding the hammer and the nails – Jesus comes and embraces us and lifts us up. We come with the hammer and Jesus saves us from the hammer, and He does this in two ways.

First, He saves us from the penalty of our hammering. We’ve been saved from every single swing, and every time we ever chose to pick up that hammer and every time we will choose to pick up that hammer in the future. Every inch of blood stain and every ounce of guilt as a result of our sinful hammering has been washed away because Jesus was willing to take our fallenness and use it as a way to save us from the penalty of our sin.

Second, we’ve been saved from the power of the hammer. Have you ever been nailing something together, and time after time you miss-hit the nail and the nail gets bent and you straighten it out only to bend it again and before you know it you just lose your patience and you just start hitting the nail out of anger (I hope that’s not just me). We’ve been saved from that madness. We’ve been saved from the madness of sin and the power of the bondage of sin. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been saved from the power of sin. He is strong in our weakness, and our new life can be separated from our old one.

As we face the truth of our sin, we can admit that there are parts of our hearts that have become so calloused because of sin that some sin patterns happen over and over and over again. We pray about it; we ask God to help us and still we fall. And so you may ask, “Where is that power to overcome sin?”

First, never forget your standing with God – you are His and His love for you is not determined by your sin. It is determined by the merits of Christ, which were given to you. Second, we need the Holy Spirit to remove the callous that is over our heart. And as we seek God’s grace we should look for people (church family) that will encourage us, strengthen us and know us. We should look for people to study the Scriptures with. And we should look for people to pray for us because we need to be prayed over for healing and growth.

God will communicate His grace through these practices and the only reason that any of that will work is because Christ has made you new and He lives in you.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church.