Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Our Sins are Removed from Us

"He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east as from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us."
(Psalm 103:10-12)

The words of this Psalm are very well known amongst Christians. Many of us are able to quote it, it is so well known. But do we know the background of the one who penned them. Do we know why he wrote them? David knew what it was to be forgiven. In 2 Samuel chapter 11 we read of the story of his lusting after Bathsheba and his adultery.  And then he goes on to try and hide his adultery by instigating a plan to have Uriah the husband of Bathsheba killed in battle which comes to a successful conclusion. So when David writes this Psalm he is writing of his experience as having been forgiven as an adulterer, a liar, and a murderer. He did not deserve to remain as King. He deserved to be cast aside as so many of the other kings of Israel in the Old Testament had been because of their evil. It is remarkable then that God not only forgives him but exalts him as his anointed king in whose line the future Messiah would come. 

In these words are the outpouring of a grateful and thankful heart that has drank God's forgiveness and experienced what it is to be pardoned for all his sins. They are the words of one who is free from condemnation, free from guilt, and free from shame.

But there is also a corporate dimension to this forgiveness that David writes about. It is for than just the the individual. It has a greater divergence than just for single people. There is a nation at mind, at people at mind to whom this forgiven has been shown. This forgiveness we see towards Israel when God in Exodus chapter 12 God commands Israel to touch the doorposts of their houses with hyssop dipped in the blood of lambs so that when the Lord sees it he will pass over and will not allow to the destroyer to enter their houses to strike them. So when David wrote about the forgiveness of God he is thinking of far more than the forgiveness that has been shown to him for he is also thinking of the forgiveness God has shown to an entire nation.

What then can we learn from these words that have been given for us to understand what it means to be forgiven by God?

1) As Christians God never deals with us as we deserve. What we deserve is to spend an eternity hating God and being consumed by our sins and the sins of those who will join us in hell under his just and merciless anger. What we don't deserve is to be forgiven for our sins. But on an even broader level no one deserves another day in this world. The fact that millions wake up in the morning is evidence that they do not get what they deserve for in his patience God grants yet more time for forgiveness.

2) This forgiveness finds its source in a God who is not hostile nor is he uncaring towards those who are without forgiveness. Unlike the Pagan gods that surrounded Israel, this God hears and knows the plight that sinners are in and he responds to it by providing the means by which full forgiveness will be given to them.

3) This forgiveness was first instituted by the animal sacrifices which were offered up every year for the forgiveness of sins. But they were only a foreshadow of something yet to come. For by their having to be offered up yearly for decades and centuries by the priest for the people for their forgiveness pointed to that perfect sacrifice yet to come. The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus,

"he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12) 

Jesus is therefore not only the one who has offered himself as the one perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins but he is the great high priest who offers up the sacrifice as he lays down his life on the cross.

4) The extend of this forgiveness is absolute. The words, "As far as the east as from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us" indicates three amazing realities about God's forgiveness in Jesus. (a) His forgiveness is qualitative. All categories of sin will be forgiven by God. This includes such sins as murder, rape, and child abuse. (b) His forgiveness is quantitative. It includes all sins whether past, present or future. (c) This forgiveness means that God will never be hold those sins against the sinner. Any punishment which is required has been dealt with at the cross.

5) This forgiveness through Christ achieves a new status for the sinner. Jesus endured shame, guilt, and condemnation on the cross so that those who believe in him and therefore accept the forgiveness God offers through him never have to. The Christian should never feel ashamed, guilty and condemned if he has turned to the forgiveness offered in Christ. For from such things he has been forever freed. 

It is essenital for the Christian to not only know what the Psalmist writes in these verses but also to believe, really believe that he has been forgiven. All too often the Christian walks around in shame, with a conscience burdened with guilt and he feels condemned before God even after he has repented for his sins. This need not be. Christ bore our shame, our guilt and our condemnation as he died to save us and achieve for us forgiveness. Dear Christian take hold of what Christ has done for you and know and believe that all your sins are forgiven in him. They will and can never be brought by the Father against you. Any penalty, any guilt, any punishment has been dealt with fully and finally in Jesus. Dear Christian you are forgiven, live in your forgiveness.

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