Understanding sin: On December 7, 1941, the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese fighter planes. Several ships were lost, including the USS Arizona, which is now the site of a monument commemorating the lost sailors.
She still lies at the bottom of the harbor. Amazingly, to this day, oil still seeps to the surface, a reminder that the memory of that event is still very much alive and present. That is what sin is like. It really never goes away entirely.
Sin washed away
Thankfully, for Christian believers, our sins are washed clean by the blood of the risen Christ, and God has promised that He will not remember them against us. That doesn’t mean He has forgotten.
For the sake of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, God forgives us. But even while God forgives us, we remember and we are not so forgiving.
Like the oil from the Arizona, we are reminded of our failures and it’s sometimes very difficult to deal with that. The sin hangs around our necks like a heavy chain. It drags us down and defeats us. We can’t move on, either because we can’t accept the forgiveness of God, or there are others who won’t let it go.
There are people in our lives, even loved ones, who never forget and will remind us of things from the distant past. They never let it go, because they might have been hurt, which is understandable, or they just pleasure in reminding us of our failures.
Understanding sin: White as snow
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
The lingering nature of sins is a matter of perspective. On the one hand, we have a conscience, the ability to recognize what is right and wrong. Our conscience is what prevents us from moving beyond our sins. That little voice that tells us we are guilty. “How can you call yourself a Christian when you did that?” “If people only knew what you did they would never respect you.”
That little voice becomes a roar when we are given opportunities to share the Gospel, like turning off the switch when the radio plays a great song. But it is our perspective that shuts us down, not God’s.
God wipes away our sin
God will wipe the slate clean and give us the opportunity to move forward. Our sense of justice demands punishment for those who sin. God’s view of justice is that it has been satisfied in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God forgave us, why can’t we forgive ourselves?
Are we willing to ask for forgiveness?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Could it be that our own sense of justice may even prevent us from turning to God, asking forgiveness and accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior?
If we can’t move on from our own sins, how can we forgive others? If I am genuinely repentant, what prevents me from accepting God’s gift. For starters, none of us are deserving, now matter how righteous we think we are.
We ALL sin!
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The heroes of the Bible weren’t perfect. And in many cases, they were painfully flawed. Their sins were abundant, but they had faith and the desire to follow God. Only God is perfection.
All we can give is willingness. Abraham had faith in God and that was credited to him as righteousness. We cannot pay for our sins, only God can. Additionally, we cannot buy our way out of eternal punishment, but the price was paid by Jesus.
Also, none of us deserve it, can’t buy it, can’t work it off, so the only option left is to have trust and faith in the work of the Lord Jesus. So, in effect, to not forgive ourselves and move forward with God is to say “God is wrong!”
Sounds foolish, doesn’t it? But thankfully, God will not remember our sins against us, so the responsibility for justice is entirely God’s business. Why remember or hang on to something God has already dealt with?
Understanding sin: God’s love save us from our sin
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved . And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:3-10)