Grace For The Journey
As we begin this first full week of 2017, I would like to take a brief look back at 2016 and consider all the benefits God has bestowed on you. This will be a three-part blog, rooted in the inspired words from one of David’s magnificent psalms – Psalm 103:1-5:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Of course, we could never be able to count up all of God’s blessings in our lives, but in this passage we see some wonderful thoughts for us to consider!
Notice the psalmist begins with, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The word “bless,” as applied to God, means to “praise,” implying always “a strong affection for Him as well as a sense of gratitude (Compare Numbers 6:23-27).” The word “soul” here is equivalent to “mind” or “heart:” our mental and moral powers, as capable of understanding and appreciating His favors. The soul of man was “made” to praise and bless God; to enjoy fellowship with Him; to delight in His favor; to contemplate His perfections. It can never be employed in a more appropriate or a more elevated act than when engaged in praising God.
The psalmist continues with, “And all that is within me …” This suggests all our powers and faculties; all that can be employed in praising Him: the heart, the will, the affections, and the emotions. The idea is, that God is worthy of all the praise and adoration which the entire man can render. None of our faculties or powers should be exempt from the duty and the privilege of praise.
The psalmist adds, “… bless His holy name.” To bless the “holy name” of God is to praise the Lord for His intrinsic holiness (cf. Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). He is an utterly pure being in whom resides no sin (Habakkuk 1:13; James 1:13). Truly God is worthy to be praised!
The psalmist then lists the reasons for praising God is such a way. This will be our focus over the next three days. Let’s take a look . . .
He Forgives All Your Sins
God “forgives all [our] iniquities” exclaims the Psalmist. There are two points upon which we may focus here. The first is the inclusive term “all.” Then, we must comment upon the nature of the forgiveness.
First, David extols the fact that God will forgive “all” sins (verse 3a). This is a truth in the New Testament as well. The Lord has the power to cleanse from “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But, someone might ask, “How is this to be harmonized with certain passages which appear to suggest that some sins are beyond the pale of pardon?” For instance, Jesus spoke of sinning against the Holy Spirit, which, He said, “shall not be forgiven” (Matthew 12:32); the writer of Hebrews described a “willful sin,” for which, he declares, there is “no sacrifice” (Hebrews 10:26); and John writes of the uselessness of praying for the brother who sins “sin unto death” (1 John 5:16).
Though there is not time to do a proper study of these passages, we can make this observation: The Bible does not contradict itself. There is, therefore, a harmony to be found between the assertion that Jehovah forgives “all” sin, and the seeming limitation implied in the verses to which we have alluded. The key to unlocking the mystery is this: a careful consideration of the three texts cited above will reveal that each has to do with a withheld pardon that results from man’s choice. He refuses it! Heaven’s beneficence is not in question.
It is thus refreshing to know that “all” sin may be forgiven if there is confession, repentance, and asking for that forgiveness. This is certainly good news for those who are burdened under sins oppressive force (Matthew 11:28-30), and who will choose to seek Heaven’s offer of redemption (Revelation 22:17).
Secondly, it must not be assumed that simply because God is willing to forgive “all” sin, that this redemptive benevolence is extended unconditionally. Almighty God, through Christ, will forgive all past sins, for the one who submits to the will of His Son in obedience (Romans 6:17; Hebrews 5:8-9). Pardon does hinge upon yielding to the terms of the divine plan of salvation (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
The Lord has a lot to say about what God does with our sins in His Word:
In Psalm 103:12, God says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
In Isaiah 43:25, God says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
In Micah 7:19, the prophet says this about God, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
It is instructive to see from Psalm 103 that David began his explanation of all the Lord’s benefits with forgiveness of sins, because without that forgiveness, what else really matters? And notice just how forgiven we really are! How far is the east from the west? It cannot be measured; it is a distance that can never be spanned. No matter how far you travel west, you will still have just as far to travel to reach the west!
In addition to that, the Bible assures us that God “will remember our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25).” Now, that is not the same as forgetting (as you and I might “forget” where we left our car keys), because God cannot forget. The Bible tells us that all things come from God (Romans 11:36) and all His works are known to Him from eternity (Acts 15:18). But God chooses to remember our sins no more. He has blotted them out, meaning He will never bring them up against us for any reason. And that is because our sins were nailed to the cross through Jesus Christ.
Finally, the Bible tells us that God casts all our sins “into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).” Picture in your mind God hurling all yours sins into the depths of the sea! One of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges, encouraged us in The Gospel for Real Life to note the force of the word “hurl.” God “doesn’t just drop [our sins] over the side or even pitch them overboard,” Bridges wrote; “He hurls them as something to be rid of and forgotten.”
And, let me remind you of a sweet phrase penned by the late Corrie ten Boom, who wrote, “And then God put up a sign saying, ‘No fishing allowed.’” There is no need for us to dredge up old sins and feel badly about them; if we have confessed our sin, and asked God’s forgiveness for it, God has placed them as far from us as the east is from the west; He has determined not to remember them; it is as if they had been hurled into the depths of the sea, never to be seen again.
So as you begin this New Year, it is important that we forget not the fact that God forgives all our sins. God’s forgiveness is the unshakeable foundation upon which a life of discipleship to Jesus is built. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”