"...for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
-- Jeremiah 31:34
It's the first day of a New Year -- 2010. Maybe you make New Year's resolutions, maybe you don't. But for most people, the New Year signals a time for change, an opportunity to re-create our lives and our circumstances.
The Christian radio station I listen to (KMTC) told the top 10 New Year's resolutions; nothing too surprising. It included things like lose weight, get fit, get out of debt -- the usual stuff.
The thing is, with God, every moment can be a new beginning. We serve a God of new beginnings. In fact, he is so good to us, that I think we often just kind of gloss over it, because we truly don't get it.
You know the old saying: "forgive and forget". Well, for us, that's easier said than done. In fact, I'd say it's pretty impossible. We may forgive, but as much as we might try to forget, the memory of that person's wrong is still there in our mind. We may not think about it much, and we may not ever talk about it, but it's there. We don't have God's ability to "remember their sin no more".
That's why it's so hard for us to believe that God loves us as much as he does. We look at all of the times we've failed. We look at our long laundry list and wonder how he could possibly forgive us. We compare our faults to those who are better than we are, and even though we know it isn't true, we still feel that God must love them more than us because they are so much better.
We get caught up in the "works vs. faith" routine, and that's a position we really don't want to get ourselves into.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
-- Matthew 5:17
You see, Jesus fulfilled the law because he knew we couldn't. He didn't fulfill the law so that we wouldn't have to follow it anymore, but so that we would be judged under a different set of circumstances. We aren't judged by the letter of the law anymore, but we are covered by grace.
When God the Father looks at us, he doesn't see us, he sees his son: faultless, sinless, perfect...
Do we really get that? Really?
Take a look at the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11). Look at the people listed there.
First we have Moses. He was a real hothead. In fact, he let his emotions take over and killed an Egyptian.
Or take Jacob. Jacob was a liar and a thief. He cheated his brother, Esau, out of his rightful inheritance.
Rahab of Jericho was a prostitute. Yet, she is in the lineage of Jesus.
What about king David? He had a man killed so that he have his wife.
So, here we have murderers, liars, thieves, prostitutes, adulterers... Now, if I wanted to put myself back under the law and compare my sins with the sins of this list of folks, maybe I'm not so bad after all!
The thing is, God forgave them and when God forgives, it's as though their sins never happened.
"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
-- Micah 7:18-19
Still have trouble believing it? Look at the description of Abraham in the Faith Hall of Fame:
"And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."
-- Romans 4:19-21
Now, maybe your Bible reads different than mine, but mine says that God told Abram and Sarai they were going to have a baby when Abram was about 75 years old. In fact, it was so difficult a concept for them to wrap their brains around that Sarai burst out laughing when she heard it.
Well, nothing happened, so Abram and Sarai took matters into their own hands and Abram slept with the maid and produced Ishmael.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like Abram was strong in faith, or staggering not at God's promise, or that he was fully persuaded.
Finally, God had to change his name to Abraham, the father of many nations, he had to be Abraham to say about himself what God had already said about him. He had to get Abraham to speak God's truth. He had to have Abraham call those things into existence that were naught. Only then, twenty five years after the original promise, did Abraham become the father of faith.
But, in the Faith Hall of Fame, God didn't record the failures of his people. He only recorded their successes. Don't you see? He didn't remember them. He had forgiven them. It was as though they never happened. He had cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
"...Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
-- Romans 4:7-8
We are truly blessed. Our sins are forgiven, and God doesn't hold them against us, to him they don't even exist.
Today, make this a New Beginning. You can be, do and have all that God's Word promises you. Don't look at your circumstances, don't look at the past, stand firm on the Word. Truly, he is a God of New Beginnings.
I wish you and yours a Happy New Year filled with God's mercy and blessings. May they chase you down and overtake you until you have to say, "surely it's enough!" This year, may you be blessed so that you can be a blessing to others.
I would like to thank Pastor Tom Underhill for teaching on this topic last Sunday at church. It really got me fired up and gave me the desire to write about it in my blog.