Do you recall the man who spent nearly twenty-five years in prison for a murder which, it is now clear, he never committed? The mistake was ultimately discovered and he was released, but only after spending almost a quarter of a century in prison for a crime he did not commit!
This was a grim mistake, but even at that, it must be wonderful in such a case, to be free — and to have people actually sympathize with you! Yet, after two years of liberty, the man says he still felt a bit numb. Waking up mornings he still imagined he heard the harsh sound of the prison bell, and looking about he still thought he saw bars on the windows.
Things could be worse, though: Suppose he were guilty of the crime, merely pardoned and released. Then everyone would be saying: “There goes that murderer. They pardoned him. Don’t get too friendly with him.” The stigma would always remain – -as long as he lived.
Let us thank God that believers in Christ are not merely pardoned. Rom. 3:24 declares that we are “justified freely by [God’s] grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Christ died for our sins and satisfied the just claims of the Law, and more: through the Holy Spirit He revolutionizes our lives and makes new creations out of us, for “If any man be in Christ,” says II Cor. 5:17, “he is a new creation.” source