“Divine forgiveness makes a heroic demand upon our courage. For that forgiveness is not the easy passing of a sponge over a slate. It is a stern and painful process: it means the reordering of our soul’s disordered love, setting right what is wrong, washing it from wickedness and cleansing it from sin.” (Evelyn Underhill)
I find that, when it comes to the love and grace and forgiveness of God, I need to soak myself in the truth again and again and again – and over long periods of time. I am prone to spiritual amnesia. I am driven by my feelings. I am forgetful. I need to hear this truth over and over, and let it sink down to the level of my soul.
It takes a while.
I need to let the word of Christ dwell in me richly – this involves teaching one another with wisdom, and singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
We imbibe so much of our theology through what we sing.
During this series, I have been singing to myself more (and to God!) I have been singing “Jesus loves me this I know”, both to my daughter at bedtime, and to myself throughout the day.
This morning in the shower, I was reminding myself of God’s forgiveness – singing at the top of my voice (the house was empty, I was not inflicting pain on anyone) – “As far as the east is from the west – that’s how far he has removed our transgressions from us….praise the Lord O my soul…..Praise the Lord.”
Back in the day, we used to sing: “I get so excited Lord every time I realise – I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven.” It is an exciting truth, an amazing truth, an undeniable truth. If we confess our sin, Jesus is faithful and just, and he will forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all wrongdoing.
That is amazing in itself. God wipes my slate clean. He forgives me. He removes my sin from me. He gives me a fresh start.
But God’s forgiveness does more than that. As well as wiping the slate clean, the true forgiveness of God acts as surgery on our hearts, to go to the source of our sin, and begins to deal with the disordered loves of our hearts. The cleansing, forgiving work of God is ongoing and purifying and transforming.
God does not want us to be in a sin-sorry-sin-sorry loop of condemnation – he wants to transform us by his love and to sanctify us, making us more and more like Jesus.
God is saving us every day – what he has started, he will finish. As we are reminded in Jude….
“keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
Listen to the full Sunday message: "The forgiveness of God", by Geoff Lee >