Tuesday, August 08, 2006

#58 "Forgiven"

August 8, 2006
"He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103: 10-12)

I read in the paper this morning that there was a 60% increase in the number of ex-cons whose files were cleared and records expunged in the first six months of 2006 as compared with the same time frame in 2005. After petitioning the court, going before a judge and paying fifty dollars, their criminal records were erased and background checks would show that they had no convictions. Some believe this is a great idea, allowing the ex-cons to find work and get a chance at redemption. Others don't. I'm not here to comment on that...but it did remind me of the forgiveness of my sins that I have received in Christ.

When a record is "expunged" the offense is struck out, obliterated, or marked for deletion. It is eliminated completely and caused to vanish. Sounds a lot to me like what happened over 2000 years ago on Calvary's Cross. When Jesus took His last human breath and said, "It is finished", our sins were paid for, once and for all, forever "expunged". When God laid it on my heart to write about this today, I said, "It's all too simple. People know about this already, Lord." But He told me to write about it anyway.

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to ask God for forgiveness more than once when I do something that's against His word. I guess I think that if I ask at least three times God will see how penitent I really am, how sorry I am and finally forgive me. What a bunch of hogwash! Being totally transparent with you, I know where this behavior comes from. I have had to ask forgiveness many times from my earthly parents and more often than not I have not received it. Do you ever catch yourself transferring the attributes of people that you know to your Heavenly Father? I'm getting better at it and really coming to realize that God is not my earthly father...they are nothing alike....when God says that if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness...(see 1 John 1:9) He means it and He does it. End of story. And I didn't have to do one thing. Jesus did it all when He shed His blood for me. Forgiven. It is finished!

Do you ever confess your sins and then try to find ways to serve God a little more vigorously in order to "make up" for the transgression? Pray a little longer, walk a little old lady across the street, give more than your tithe in your offering? Again, more hogwash! If forgiveness depended on us...we'd never be able to give, buy, or serve enough to receive it. If our good works could get us forgiven, Christ would not have had to die. There is no sacrifice or work that we can do to get forgiveness. Hebrews 10:10 tells us that "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ Once For All." He doesn't need our help. And Isaiah 64: 6 says that "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." We can't do it. He did it. It is finished!

So let's say that you've sinned, confessed and asked forgiveness from God. But you still feel guilty, condemned and unworthy. You feel estranged from God and don't even think that you have the right to pray and receive from Him in His word. Let me be the one to tell you that God is not making you feel that way. This is exactly the point where you need to draw even closer to God and commit even more to being in His word. Those feelings are the tactics of the enemy. Your mind needs to be renewed by what God's word says about forgiveness. Read it and memorize it anyway, whether you feel worthy or not. Pray whether you feel like you're deserving or not. The devil would like nothing more than to keep you from God. He likes to keep you dwelling on the past and your shortcomings. Psalm 103:3 says that all of your sins are forgiven. Not just the small ones...all of them. "All" is the whole amount or quantity of. Psalm 32: 1-2 says that "Blessed (happy) is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed (happy) is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him." Be happy. Stop dwelling on the past. Your sins have been thrown into God's sea of forgetfulness. That idea was taken from Scripture and it is found in Micah 7:19 where it says: "He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." God does not bring charges against you. He does not condemn you. That's the enemy. (Read Romans 8:31-34)

Simply put, if you are beating yourself up today over a sin that you committed yesterday or even ten years ago...STOP! If you have confessed that sin, you are forgiven! God doesn't see it when He looks at you. He sees Jesus. Confess once and move on. Accept the free gift of forgiveness bought for you with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Don't get stuck in the mire of your self-condemnation and feelings of unworthiness. You'll be right where the devil wants you...ineffective and useless for God's plan and purpose for your life.

James Garfield was a lay preacher and principal of his denominational college. They say he was ambidextrous and could simultaneously write Greek, with one hand and Latin with the other. In l880, he was elected president of the United States, but after only six months in office, he was shot in the back with a revolver. He never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn?t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn?t locate the bullet. They took Garfield back to Washington, D.C. Despite the summer heat, they tried to keep him comfortable. He was growing very weak. Teams of doctors tried to locate the bullet, probing the wound over and over. In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on a little device called the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president?s body. He came, he sought, and he too failed. The president hung on through July, through August, but in September he finally died?not from the wound, but from infection. The repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help the man, eventually killed him. So it is with people who dwell too long on their sin and refuse to release it to God. (Roger Thompson)

May you know today that you are loved by God. Your record is clean. It has been expunged. You don't need to go to court. You don't need to pay fifty dollars. The Righteous Judge has reached His verdict and declared you ... forgiven.

Donna Schultz

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