Lost Glasses and Grace
When I was in Middle School my family bought a house boat. We worked hard every summer to maintain it (that means that every spring I spent a couple of weeks in the back yard, on my back, under the boat, with a scraper and a bucket of paint). We kept the boat in a marina all year and it would need cleaning and care regularly. One early spring day, if I remember correctly, the very first time that spring we had taken it out after my annual scrape and paint job, we were at the dock in the marina. We were cooking supper out on the deck after a day of fishing, and my father leaned over the water. His glasses fell off, and into the twelve feet of cold murky water. Now you need to know that if Dad did not have his glasses, our drive home that night would be especially “fun”. We tried everything. We used a net on a pole, we tried a big magnet, we tried a rake on the end of a long pole, but nothing worked. Docked next to us was a huge party boat, owned by a Catholic priest. The priest even got into the water to try and retrieve dad’s glasses from the muddy bottom, to no avail. The glasses were “gone”.
One of the metaphors that the Bible uses to talk about the completeness of our forgiveness is Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Our sins are like dad’s glasses. God has hurled them into the deepest part of the sea, and we will never find them again. The image here in Micah is better than what happened to dad, though.... because God hurls our sin, our sins don’t just “slip off our noses”. They are hurled because God has dealt with them through His Son’s death.
Do you get Micah’s picture? Do you realize that your forgiveness is complete and irreversible? Have you started to understand that regardless of how “bad” you’ve been, or how many times you’ve committed the same sin, God completely and freely forgives you because of Christ? Do you know that because of all that Jesus has done for us that you do not have to do penance or fulfill some probationary term before God can bless you again?
There is another word picture I want to call to your memory today, one that emphasizes the complete and absolute forgiveness of our sins. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” There are two expressions here, blotting out and remembering. When God says he blots out our transgressions, it means that he removes them from the record. And not only are they blotted out, even better, He remembers them no more. That means that God no longer holds our sins against us, they are gone and forgotten like my father’s glasses that fell in the reservoir thirty five years ago.
The blotting out of our sin is the “legal act” of our Heavenly Father, it is like an official pardon from the President. But the “remembering them no more” is even better because that is a “relational act”. It means that the one who was injured by our sin, the one who was offended by our failure, has promised to never bring it up again, either to Himself or to you!
Do you remember the rebellious and undisciplined kid in your school that got expelled for some kind of bad behavior? I am almost certain there was someone like that in your past. His acts of defiance toward the teacher probably had legal and relational consequences. Legally, he got expelled, and relationally the teacher most likely felt a deep sense of failure and maybe anger toward the student. Even if the student were allowed to return to school (having been pardoned), I am certain that the teacher may continue to be reluctant to “forget” his previous rebellion and defiance. In order to gain a good standing with the school, the student needs to be both pardoned by the administration, and forgiven by the teacher. The student needs for the teacher to give up all sense of being offended and agree not to remember his poor behavior. That is a weak illustration of what God has done for us.
If you have trusted Christ Jesus alone for your salvation, you are both justified and reconciled (legal and relational restoration). You are no longer condemned by God. God is no longer against you. He is for you now.
We celebrate the reality of our restored relationship with God every Sunday, and especially Resurrection Sunday.... what great news! Let us make it known to the world.