Godly fear can be life changing. God can use personal guilt and remorse to steer our lives away from evil. Known criminals have been known to turn over a new leaf. However, it does not always mean that they have sought forgiveness from God.
In the news were reports of a man that had banded with others to torture a young woman in Windsor. After the youngest of the group was apprehended, he expressed sorrow about what he had done. On another front, a Mafia leader following his imprisonment had expressed remorse about his past. These and others stir our interest probably because we wish to find out if their sorrow will lead to new behavior. Real Christian conversion means that not only are we “sorry” but will always involve God and a refusal to return to the old life of sin. Although backsliding is possible, it is never permanent if God is working in your life. The child of God will always experience correction if he ever steps out-of-line. Another story of a criminal who was never detained or even arrested for his crimes, monstrous and many as they were, has been well documented.
He was a leader of soldiers and had been responsible for the deaths of numerous people. In fact killing had had become routine for him. He had accomplices. They considered the killing of prisoners just and that they were only carrying out orders. They were trained to kill and did it well. Their subject had been tortured before he was brought to them, and his murder would be witnessed by a contentious crowd, some grieving and others cheering and cursing the prisoner. It took place outside of the city, near a garbage dump. During the slow and painful execution, these soldiers were overcome with remorse.
“When the centurion and those with him where guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that happened that had happened, they were terrified and explained, “Surely he was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54) What happened next that day at the crucifixion of Christ was a series of events not since repeated: there was the clear audible cry of Jesus; the tearing of the curtain in the temple; the shaking of the earth; tombs opening and the dead raised to life. The Bible teaches that these soldiers were truly afraid and they believed Christ was truly the Son of God.
Godly fear is a good thing when turned inwardly for it helps us to see our sins and our need for salvation. These executioners who stood at the base of the cross and who had a hand in Christ death that day underwent a soul changing event. It was miraculous as it was frightening! We are all criminals in the sight of God, none of us are innocent. We are all personally guilty of moral wrongs that we have committed against God and His Holy Laws. We have all sinned and therefore must stand before Him. He is the Judge of all the earth and we will find ourselves in His presence one day. In the time that is still left, we must decide whether to trust in Christ’s work at Calvary, for the forgiveness of our sins; if we do, He will wipe our sins clean from existence so that we can be found guiltless before a Holy God at judgement, but, if we refuse, then we will experience eternal torment in hell forever.