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Weekly Devotion: We Are Forgiven

Pray: Ask God to give you a fresh appreciation for His love and mercy. Ask Him to bring encouragement and conviction to your heart.

Text: Psalm 103:1-5, 8-14 (ESV)

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Of David

103 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 iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's....

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

Have you ever messed up? I mean really messed up? Perhaps it was a sinful sexual encounter, an explosion of anger at a loved one that left an enduring mark, a lifestyle of selfishness and self-indulgence lived at the expense of others, or a lie that wound up causing serious damage to yourself and others. If we’re honest, we’ve all sinned in serious ways, bearing the weight of guilt and shame ourselves and forcing the consequences of those actions on others. We can all recall moments or seasons where we’ve really blown it.

Of course, we tend to measure the seriousness of sin by the external consequences or the degree of shamefulness associated with it. In other words, there is a difference between, say, cheating on your diet and lying about it to save face before others, and cheating on your spouse. However, in the eyes of God all sin, even the “tiny” lie about a diet, is a revolt against His Lordship that is worthy of damnation (Matthew 5:21-48; James 2:8-13).

What if I told you that you could be completely forgiven of all your sins? I mean really forgiven of all your sins? And not just the “tiny” ones but the “serious” ones, too? And forgiven in such a way that the very shameful, scandalous sins that continue to dog you or haunt you can never be tied back to you? They can no longer be associated with you? Well, that is the glory of the type of forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus. Through Him, we have been forgiven of our sins in such a way that, in the mind of God, it's as if those sins never happened.

That is the type of forgiveness that David is rehearsing and celebrating in this Psalm. God “forgives all your iniquity”. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” He does not “keep his anger forever”. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

When God forgives sin, He removes them from us an infinite distance. They won’t circle back and “find” us again. They are gone. How? They have been placed onto another and banished into the wilderness, never to return (Leviticus 16:1-22). What does this mean? He doesn’t hold them against us any longer. He no longer deals with us on the basis of our sin. In Christ, the basis of our relationship with Him is an impeccable record of righteousness. How gloriously “unfair” (not actually, though, Romans 3:21-26)! We get to reap the benefits of Christ’s perfect life, when we really only deserve wrath and fury. And not only that, it is His delight to do so!

This type of forgiveness, this type of grace is transformative. It changes us. We are moved to worship God with our lips and our lives. We lose our taste for sin, and thirst for righteousness. We become more compassionate and loving. We begin to delight in extending this type of forgiveness to others. Even forgiving those who have hurt us deeply. We no longer treat people as their sins deserve, and we stop keeping records of their wrongs, to boot. When we sin, we are eager to confess our sins to God and others, and ask for forgiveness. We pray, “God, forgive me for my sin.” We go to others and say, “I sinned against God and I sinned against you when I [blank]. Will you forgive me?” And you know what? When we do this, we know we have the Father’s forgiveness, and we enjoy a fresh experience of His grace as we receive forgiveness from others. It’s a pretty good deal, don’t you think?

For Thought/Discussion:

  1. Do you have a hard time accepting this type of forgiveness from God or others? If so, why do you think that is the case?
  2. When was the last time the Spirit convicted you of sin? How did you respond? Did you confess your sin to God and/or others?
  3. Are you in the habit of confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness from others? If not, why do you think you are reluctant to do so?
  4. Are you currently withholding forgiveness from someone? What is holding you back? Who can you ask for help in working through this?

Pray: Spend time rehearsing all the ways God has shown compassion to you. Spend time thanking Him for His forgiveness of specific sins from your past. Confess your sin to God and ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to bring to mind those whom you need to ask for forgiveness. Ask Him to give you grace to extend forgiveness to others.