THE NEW BIRTH AND FORGIVENESS
I recently spoke with a friend who seemed to be preoccupied with past faults. This is something that if left unresolved can do much harm to us as believers. When we are born again our sins are forgiven. We are washed “whiter than snow.” That’s pretty clean. Can you imagine whiter than snow? Anything whiter than snow must have a touch of the glory of God upon it. It reminds me of the account of the transfiguration of Jesus. There he was and suddenly his face shone very brightly and his clothing was changed into the brightest white. The disciples who were with him were very moved by the sight of Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah and wanted to build tabernacles in honor of them. There was a holiness that accompanied this transfiguration. It made the mere men present with Jesus desiring to worship Him.
So why is it so hard sometimes for us as believers to know this feeling of having our past totally forgiven and feeling pure and clean and whiter than snow? Perhaps it has something to do with our soul’s reaction to the amazing power of God’s love. Only those who love can forgive. But how about accepting forgiveness? What makes that so difficult?
Many people feel that they have been wronged at some time in their lives. We have all felt the sting of sin. Sometimes it is the failure of a parent, girlfriend or boyfriend. Sometimes it is rejection and ridicule from authority figures. Some of us fall victim to false accusation. Perhaps this accusation cost us a job or friends or some type of financial loss. The bible tells us that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. It is true, then, also, that we all have suffered because of the sins of another, and come short of the glory of God. Sin causes us to come short of the “whiter than snow” aspect of God’s glory. We feel dark, shadowy, uncertain, unsure, and uncomfortable. The remembrance of our sins causes us great despair at times. We wish that we had never done some of the things in our pasts. We know that we can never undo these things, but we long for the chance to do it over again.
This is the normal human way of processing our guilt. It is the way all humans react to sin. There is remorse, guilt, and the desire to do it right, to get a second chance. This is normal, human and right. How then, can we live knowing that we are forgiven and having a good conscience and joy unspeakable and full of glory. Look at the average person on death row. Most proclaim innocence…even the guilty ones. Proclaiming innocence is something that can be done rightly only if one is innocent. An innocent person who is released from death row and allowed to go free is receiving his just reward. He feels that what is due him has finally been delivered.
Suppose, however, a guilty man were released from death row. Suppose the governor tells him that it is known that he is guilty, but it has been decided by an official decree that he is to be let go. No explanation of a reason of good behavior, no reduction of sentence to time served, no reason, just “you are forgiven…you are free to go.” How does this man accept his unearned freedom? Perhaps he will fear leaving his cell. Maybe he is being set up to be apprehended or even shot as an escapee. Maybe someone is playing a cruel joke on him, wanting to see him get his hopes up only to come and dash them later, by reinstitution his sentence. Maybe he leaves the prison alright but is haunted after by thoughts of deserving the death penalty anyhow. Can this prisoner ever be free from the burden of his sin with its guilt and condemnation?
The answer is “YES!” You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You can even forgive yourself for all the wrong you have done. You can forgive yourself for a lifetime lifestyle of sin. If this were not possible, then Jesus would be worse than a deceitful jailer. He would tell us we are forgiven without having a means of making it real to us. But He is perfect in all His ways, so we know that the Lord has made a way for us again.
As you walk with God, there will be many opportunities for self-doubt and condemnation. You will have many moments of feeling unworthy of the peace and joy that God’s forgiveness gives to you. God knows this would happen to you. God knows how much you would long for another chance to do things the right way. This is why He Gives us a second chance. He gives us exactly what our hearts desire.
In the bible there is the story of Mary with the alabaster box of spikenard that anointed Jesus for His burial. When Simon, their host, shows disdain for her because she has committed many sins, Jesus poses to Simon a parable comparing two persons who were forgiven; one was forgiven of few sins, the other, many. Jesus asked him who did he think loved the most, and Simon answered the one who was forgiven much. This was right. People who are forgiven much, and know and acknowledge how much they have been forgiven have a great deal of gratitude to the one who forgives them. They have a great desire to please the Master as the one who gives us pardon.
If you feel condemned at times because of your past sins, know that God’s great forgiveness is perfect. He will restore joy to you. He is looking for those who will love much as a result of having been forgiven much. His motive is to move us to love deeply and with great power. He is looking for us to desire to serve Him with all our might because we have been given a second chance to do the right thing. He is looking for sinners saved by His matchless grace and not by our good works.
He is looking for you.
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