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Teen Virtue 2: A Teen Girl's Guide to Relationships

(Broadman & Holman)

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Google A Sinner?

By Vicki Courtney We’ve all done wrong things. But what if our sins were made public for all to see? Believe it or not, some criminals have experienced a dose of public shame as part of sentence for their crimes. Consider this:

In Maryland, Texas, Georgia, and California, shoplifters have been required to stand outside stores with signs announcing their crimes.

In Florida and Ohio, drunken drivers are issued special license plates that identify them to fellow motorists.

In Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, convicted sex offenders have been ordered to place signs on their front lawns that warn away children.

In Pennsylvania, the driver of a car that caused a fatal accident was forced to carry a picture of the victim.

In North Carolina, four young offenders who broke into a school and did $60,000 in damage were ordered to wear signs around their necks in public that read “I AM A JUVENILE CRIMINAL.”

One can only wonder if the public shame and humiliation deterred these criminals from committing future crimes. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t keep a public ledger of our sins? Imagine for a minute what it would be like if you could simply Google someone’s name and up popped a link that posted a chronological listing of each and every sin the person in question had committed. Google-a-sinner at your fingertips. Date, time, nature of offense—all available for the public’s viewing pleasure. And imagine how freaky it would be if it also listed the person’s future sins. Imagine how handy the list would be to potential employers, soon-to-wed fiancés, business partners, teachers, parents, and anyone basically looking for revealing information. It might sound appealing if you could Google other people’s sin lists, but you sure wouldn’t want anyone to Google yours!

For grins’ sake, let’s take it a step further. Let’s say that next to each sin, there is a rating from one to one hundred, depending on the severity of the offense. At the top, next to the person’s name is a number that represents the running total average of all the offenses. Similar to those fancy mattress stores that calculate a person’s sleep number, imagine if every person was given a “sin number.” Even more humbling is the thought that each day new sins are added to the top of the list. In fact, for many, just refreshing the page every hour would bring up pages of new sins. Every thought, word, or deed committed that is not pleasing to God. Pretty scary, huh?

Fortunately, no one has access to our list of sins except for God. And for the Christian, the Bible is clear on what he does with the sins on that list. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” In case you are wondering how far it is between the east and the west, the two never meet. Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, once said that God casts our sins into the deepest ocean and then places a sign in the spot that says, ‘No Fishing Allowed.’ Unfortunately, a lot of people see God as some kind of angry judge who sits behind a fancy mahogany desk with a gavel in hand just waiting to lower the boom on anyone who misbehaves. Some Christians mistakenly believe that God, like some of the judges in the court cases above who made the guilty parties wear signs displaying their wrongdoings, wants us to carry the burden and shame of our sins.

I’ll admit, the whole concept of a loving God who forgets our sins is a bit heavy to take in. When I became a Christian at the age of twenty-one, I had a hard time believing that God really forgot about my sins and no longer held them against me. I mean, I had some real biggies on that sin list, and it just seemed to me that he would want me to suffer punishment. I had already suffered the consequences of many of these sins, but it didn’t seem like enough. So I told others about His wonderful offer of forgiveness to those who believe in the name of Jesus, but deep down inside I wasn’t sure I believed it for myself.

There were a couple of sins on my sin list that haunted me more than all the others. Even after becoming a Christian, I just couldn’t believe that God would really forgive me for these sins. I beat myself up with shame over the years. I’m surprised my knees didn’t buckle from carrying the weight of these sins. And then one day, while attending a Christian women’s event, the speaker shared a verse that I had heard a thousand times before. Something clicked, and God brought that verse to life in my heart. She was sharing about Jesus’ death on the cross and reminded us of his final words on the cross. John 19:30 says, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (NIV). Did you catch that? It is finished. Pretty simple statement but loaded with life-changing meaning. As I was sitting there pondering the meaning and magnitude of that verse, it was as if God spoke these words to my heart: “Vicki, it is finished. The price has been paid. I didn’t footnote my statement with any sort of conditions like, ‘It is finished ... unless you have had sex outside of marriage,’ or ‘It is finished ... unless you have had an abortion.’ I just said, ‘It is finished.’ I no longer remember these sins. Child, it’s time to lay them down.” And lay them down, I did. I don’t have the luxury of forgetting my sins like God does, but when I remember them, I no longer feel shame. Instead, my shame has been replaced with an overflowing heart of gratitude over what God has done for me.

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Think of a time you needed grace—maybe you committed a sin so atrocious that you still feel uncomfortable at the thought of it. Now picture yourself approaching God’s throne of grace. You have an appointment with the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is waiting for you. You begin to approach the great Almighty. Do you walk? Do you run? Do you hang your head low and drag your feet? Once there, what do you say? Your answers to these questions will shed light on how you view God. Do you see him as an angry judge who can’t wait to punish you, or do you see him as a loving Father who is ready and willing to forgive?

I am so grateful that I don’t serve a God who would make me parade around town with a sign advertising my sins. I am glad that He does not make my sin list public for all to see. The truth is, every item on that list has been stamped with the word forgiven. What a comforting thought for Christians who have accepted his gift of forgiveness. If such a Google-a-sinner list did exist, anyone trying to access it might just get the message: “Page no longer available. ‘It is finished.’ Love, God.”

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About the author: As a past agnostic and feminist, Vicki bought into the world's formula for liberation only to emerge empty and confused in her college years. During her junior year at the University of Texas in Austin, a friend invited her to a Christian conference for college students. It was there that she discovered that true liberation could only be found in Jesus Christ. She later founded Virtuous Reality Ministries® which reaches over 150,000 girls and mothers a year. She is the creator of, an online magazine for teen girls, and college-aged and adult women. Vicki resides in Austin , Texas with her husband, Keith and three children, Ryan, Paige and Hayden.

Adapted from Teen Virtue 2: A Teen Girl's Guide to Relationships by Vicki Courtney, copyright © 2006. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


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