REMEMBER WHAT YOU WERE BEFORE YOUR CONVERSION AND HOW GOD’S GRACE MADE THE DIFFERENCE
The sin of preferring Barabbas to Christ was the sin of every one of us BEFORE OUR CONVERSION! Will you turn over the leaves of your diary, now, dear Friends, or fly upon the wings of memory to the hole of the pit where you were lifted? Did you not, O you who live close to Christ, did you not once despise Him? What company did you like best? Was it not that of the frivolous, if not that of the profane?
When you sat with God’s people, their talk was very tedious. If they spoke of Divine realities and of experimental subjects, you did not understand them, you felt them to be troublesome. I can look back upon some whom I know now to be most venerable Believers, whom I thought to be a gross nuisance when I heard them talk of the things of God!
What were our thoughts about? When we had time for thinking, what were our favorite themes? Not much did we meditate upon eternity. Not much upon Him who came to deliver us from the misery of Hell’s torments. Brothers and Sisters, His great love with which He loved us was never laid to heart by us as it should have been.
No, if we read the story of the Crucifixion, it had no more effect upon our mind than a common tale. We knew not the beauties of Christ! We thought of any trifle sooner than of Him. And what were our pleasures? When we had what we called a day’s enjoyment, where did we seek it? At the foot of the Cross? In the service of the Savior? In communion with Him? Far from it! The further we could remove from godly associations the better pleased we were. Some of us have to confess with shame that we were never more in our element than when we were without a conscience—when conscience ceased to accuse us and we could plunge into sin with riot.
What was our reading then? Any book sooner than the Bible—and if there had lain in our way anything that would have exalted Christ and extolled Him in our understandings—we would have put the book away as much too dry to please us. Any three-volume heap of nonsense, any light literature—no, perhaps, even worse—would have delighted our eyes and our heart. But thoughts of His eternal delight towards us—thoughts of His matchless passion and His Glory now in Heaven never came across our minds, nor would we endure those who would have led us to such meditations!
What were our aspirations then? We were looking after business, aiming at growing rich, famous for learning or admired for ability. SELF was what we lived for! If we had some regard for others and some desire to benefit our race, self was at the bottom of it all.
We did not live for God—we could not honestly say, as we woke in the morning, “I hope to live for God today.” At night we could not look back upon the day and say, “We have this day served God.” He was not in our thoughts! Where did we spend our best praise? Did we praise Christ? No! We praised cleverness and when it was in association with sin, we praised it none the less.
We admired those who could most fully minister to our own fleshly delights and felt the greatest love to those who did us the worst injury. Is not this our confession as we review the past? Have I not read the very history of your life? I know I have of my own. Alas, for those dark days in which our besotted soul went after any evil, but would not follow after Christ! It would have been the same today with us IF ALMIGHTY GRACE HAD NOT MADE THE DIFFERENCE!
We may as well expect the river to cease to run to the sea as expect the natural man to turn from the current of his sins! As well might we expect fire to become water, or water to become fire as for the unrenewed heart ever to love Christ!
IT WAS MIGHTY GRACE WHICH MADE US SEEK THE SAVIOR! And as we look back upon our past lives, it must be with mingled feelings of gratitude for the change and of sorrow that we should have been so grossly foolish as to have chosen Barabbas and have said of the Savior, “Let Him be crucified!”