Sunday, September 25, 2016
Excited to forgive us..... from East to West
Lately, John has really been struggling with this idea of being forgiven. He did something 12 years ago, an immoral act that lasted for a fairly short time. Now, 12 years later, he is having a difficult time believing God has truly forgiven, and can forgive him. His reasoning is that he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. I have been trying to convince him that God has forgiven him and that it is the devil bringing it up to him, but I don't believe he is there yet.
I can relate to his struggle. For years, I never felt completely forgiven. I always felt there was something more I needed to do to have God's complete forgiveness. In the last three years I have finally come to believe God loves me, and I have gotten at least a small idea of how great His love, grace, and mercy are. As I reached that point in December of 2013 and have grown in that belief and realization, the forgiveness issue went away.
My list of transgressions was a long list, and I have messed up several times since then in so many areas, but I have held to the belief and knowledge that God instantly forgives me when I ask His forgiveness.
We tend to look at forgiveness through our human eyes. I doubt there are many Christians who don't struggle at all to forgive someone for a very serious offense. Maybe I am off the mark here, but no matter how good of a Christian a person is, instant forgiveness for a serious offense is going to take some effort and prayer. And being humans, we will most likely never forget a serious offense. We may forgive it, but it most likely will never leave our memory.
God on the other hand, does not have to work at forgiving us. Unlike what I believed for so many years, He doesn't have to be cajoled or begged. We don't have to make a bunch of promises that we will never do it again. He already knows if we will or not, and the most amazing part is that He will still forgive us knowing we will do it again.
The devil is a very smart adversary, and his bag of tricks he uses to discourage and trip us up seems bottomless. He knows our weaknesses and that is where he hits us hardest, never giving us time to recover or get back on our feet. He used this one on me for most of my life, and thankfully that one doesn't work on me anymore, but he is being very successful using it on "John."
John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of those sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He doesn't do it halfway. There is nothing more we need to do to be forgiven, than to confess and repent. But we, with the devil's help, make it so hard and unattainable.
The Bible says that God has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West. I am told that if you go North far enough, you'll eventually go South, and if you go South far enough, you'll eventually go North. East and West aren't like that, however. No matter how far you go East or West, you will continue going in the direction you started out in. So East and West are infinite miles from each other, they will never meet or turn into the other.....that means our sins are completely removed. God will never remember them against us.
So my advice to "John": stop listening to the devil. If you confessed your sin and repented, God has forgiven you, and it is an insult to God to keep holding onto it and letting the devil convince you that it can't be forgiven.
God's mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness are endless and unfathomable. We will never get a grip on just how infinite and great they are, but we can get a better understanding than we have had, as I did. We serve a God who loved us enough to die on a cross so we could be forgiven and have eternal life. A God who loves us is going to be happy to forgive us, or as the words of a favorite song of mine says, "He is excited to forgive us."
When the prodigal son was spotted by his father - who was watching and waiting for him - he had no chance to get out his apology before his father was embracing him, forgiving him, and calling for a party in his honor. That is the kind of God we serve - a God who is excited to forgive us, and throws a party in our honor when we turn back to Him.
When He Saved Me
by Jim Brady and Phil Cross
I don’t believe He’s sitting up in Heaven
Evaluating sinners by their scars
But I see Him excited to forgive us
And it’s not at all in spite of who we are
When He saved me He knew
What I had done, what I would do
He looked beyond the worst in me
And saw not what I was, He saw what I could be
He looked at all the broken scattered pieces
And made a brand new vessel of my life
Every day possibility increases
‘Cause he placed me in a dream that never dies
And though I was a sinner, the Savior heard my cry
His mercy came and rescued me, He did not pass me by