CHAPTER 12

“He Only Got What He Deserved.”

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Offenders make moral judgments about their own behavior and often rationalize their conduct to "neutralize" what would otherwise be incapacitating feelings of guilt or shame. For example, if they cause physical harm to someone, they may make such excuses as: "He deserved it," "I only slapped her," “He had it coming,” “He brought it on himself,” She was just asking for it.”

This excuse may even be a maxim by which they live, to justify angry outbursts when they settle matters with their fists … or a knife … or a gun.  Such a person may appear to be out of control, but they are often using their anger quite purposefully, to remind other people that it is dangerous to cross them.  In other words, such actions may be intended to control others.

By contrast, both Christians and morally sensitive non-Christians have trouble with the word "deserve." This is why the grading system in schools today is in a shambles. There is a growing reluctance to reward good work with good grades and bad work with bad grades. Teachers and principals try to avoid saying, "Johnny deserved to fail."

Regarding salaries, there is an aversion to the idea of paying people differently according to the merit of their work. They simply can't say, "Employee A deserves more money than employee B because his work is better." They pay by seniority or job title, routinely give a cost-of-living raise about once a year, but seldom give raises based on the quality of the job being done.

We no longer have penal institutions. Instead we call them correctional institutions. This implies that we no longer punish our criminals; we re-educate them. No one wants to ask, "What does a thief deserve?" We would rather ask, "How can we reshape his thinking so that he doesn't do that again?"

Whether you live by the word “deserve,” as do violent criminals or abusive spouses, or if you avoid that word altogether - the Biblical truth is, those of us who are believers in Jesus Christ, and His finished work on the cross, will never get what we “deserve.” If we have ever sinned, our just fate is eternal damnation.  But by grace, through faith, we have been forgiven and will enjoy eternal life in heaven.

1. Is there anyone besides Jesus who has lived a perfect life without sin? How do these verses answer that question?
  a) Isaiah 53:6:
   
  b) Isaiah 64:6:
   
  c) Ecclesiastes 7:20:
   
  d) Psalm 130:3-5:
   
  e) 1 John 1:8-10:
   
  f) Romans 3:22-25:
   

2. There were self-righteous people in the Bible who claimed they were leading a sinless life without transgressions.  Who were they?
 
 

3. Why didn't God on one clear day in eternity simply say, "In spite of the fact that the human race in its pride and self-sufficiency has sinned against me and deserves eternal destruction, I will overlook what it deserves and bless it forever and that's that"? Why did Jesus have to be sacrificed? (Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4)
 

4. Why didn't God on one clear day in eternity simply say, "Because the human race in its pride and self-sufficiency has sinned against me and deserves eternal destruction, I will punish them all with eternity in hell?” (John 3:16)
 

5. On the night before and day of His crucifixion, Jesus actually stood in trial several times before different judges. Before Jesus came to the home of Caiaphas (the official high priest), He was led to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest and the “power behind the throne” of the high priest.  After the break of dawn, the Sanhedrin gathered again, this time in official session, and they conducted the trial described in Luke 22:66-71.
  a) When the high priest decided that Jesus had committed blasphemy, he asked the people what they thought Jesus deserved for that.  How did they answer?  (Matthew 26:66)
   
  b) What was Pilate’s verdict? (Luke 23:4)
   
  c) Pilate was willing to release Jesus, but what did the Jewish leaders and the crowd insist that Jesus deserved? (Luke 23:21)
   
  d) It was obvious to Pilate that a riot was building.  And so to please the people, he did as they asked.  What did Jesus really deserve?
   

6. When we sin, do we get what we deserve? How do the following Bible verses answer this question?
  a) Psalm 103:10:
   
  b) Romans 4:5:
   
  c) Galatians 3:13:
   
  d) Acts 2:21:
   
  e) Romans 10:9:
   

7. If salvation were the only blessing we ever received from God, it would be so much more than we deserve. But after we are saved by grace through faith, we become the adopted children of God. And the Lord loves to shower His children with blessings above and beyond salvation. List a few of the blessings God has given to you beyond salvation, blessings you don’t really deserve.
 
 
  c)

8. How would you counsel a person operating under the “He/she deserved it” thinking error?
 

Continue to Chapter 13

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