Psalm 103:8-12 “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
I had the privilege of growing up in a two-parent home. My Mom and Dad were present throughout my life, and I am truly grateful. For all those who have stayed, I have had some people in my life leave me as well.
At the tender age of seven, my grandmother passed away. As we attended the funeral and wake that followed, I was confused. At the funeral, everyone was weeping over the death of a beautiful, giving, and special woman. At the wake, it seemed more a celebration than a memorial, and for a young boy, that was a bit much to take in.
Later, my best friend in junior high broke the news that his parents were moving away, and I didn’t know when I would see him again. We tried to stay in touch, but that faded when we both hit high school.
My heart aches for those whose parents left them when they were young. All they knew in their home was a Mom or a Dad. They suffered the bouncing from babysitter to family, to home again.
Coming to Christ twenty-nine years ago, I learned some very precious truths that have been able to bridge those times when I could have fallen into despair over sin, I thought unforgivable.
Then there came the snare of knowing that God forgave me but unable to forgive myself. I have yet to find in scripture where we are to forgive ourselves. Taking responsibility for my sin puts me in jeopardy of owning the punishment and payment as well. I must realize that my Savior, Jesus Christ, took all the punishment, all the payment needed for me to be right with the Father.
I will never experience the fiery flames of Hell for my sin. Jesus took that away. Salvation bought me from the auction block of sin. He placed me in His family and gave me His righteousness when I had none. He gave me promises that protect, provide, and give power when I am unable to do for myself.
So how do I deal with the sin I commit as a saved child of God?
I believe that God values our relationship with Him so much that He did what was necessary to remove what would ultimately keep us from entering into that relationship. From that point on, He knew that in this flesh, we would always be tempted to choose something and someone other than Himself.
He lovingly made the way back from the deepest of valleys we could ever make for ourselves.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We confess – He forgives. Our nature is to make it far more complicated than what God designed it to be. When I realized that I could never be cast out of the family, I never felt more settled as a child of God!
God’s love, acceptance, protection, provision, and power all come without conditions based upon my behavior. I must step out of the shadow of guilt and shame and realize that if I agree with God about my sin, He is faithful to forgive and restore our relationship.
We read of David’s anguish as he languished in his sin of adultery, and murder until he was confronted with it by the prophet Nathan. We hear his heartfelt confession and repentance in Psalm 51. But we cannot miss the restoration brought to him through the forgiveness God granted him.
Psalm 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
You see, once we are restored, God has so much more for us. David knew:
Psalm 51:13 “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
God stays with us because He wants us to experience so much more of Himself than to live in the mess we may have made for ourselves. In the song, “When You Bow at Jesus Feet”, there is a line that speaks to this truth.
Hope will dawn with each tomorrow
The grip of fear will lose its hold
Defined no longer by your failures
You’ll find strength in letting go
The chains that Satan wishes to bind us can only come when I choose them over God’s forgiveness and cleansing. We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the failures of our past. We must study and know who we are in Christ and live in the freedom and liberty bought for us by Him.
Trust the God who has promised to stay with you – no matter what!
(Inspired by Matthew West’s song: “The God Who Stays)