If there was a way without the terrible death of Jesus, who reconciled us to God, God would have said that we should go that way.

And the gloriously majestic Jesus would not have been kicked, beaten, laughed at, scorned, whipped, and executed for us. But there is only the way through Jesus: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jesus in John 14:6; NIV)

Jesus has taken all our sins, so that after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are reconciled with God forever. In the New Covenant, it is God who works (not us with our incomplete attempts).

About 600 years before the birth of Jesus, God told this glorious announcement to the prophet Jeremiah:

“I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.” (God in Jeremiah 33:8; NIV)

Read exactly: “I will cleanse them,” says God. Not the sacrifices in the Old Covenant, not our works and deeds, but God takes over and washes us clean. And read on: “All the sin [we] have committed” God forgives us. There remains no sand grain of guilt after the cleansing full bath in the grace of Jesus.

Jeremiah 33:8

We cannot make it clear enough. The order in the New Covenant is this: First, our sins are forgiven; We have not deserved this, it is the unwavering gift that Jesus gives us. Afterwards, recognizing this powerful love for us (John 15:13) and the undeserved grace, more and more the good deeds follow from us, because the Holy Spirit, no longer held back because of our feelings of guilt and our fear, can work more and more effectively in our lives.

In Jesus, God’s perfect love meets us. As long as you still have feelings of guilt and fear of punishment, you have not fully recognized and gratefully accepted what Jesus has done for you, namely, complete and irreversible reconciliation with God. John expressed this glory, this Good News, 2,000 years ago: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18; NIV)