One of my greatest struggles is believing that I am forgiven.
Completely. Truly. And perfectly.
You see, I have the tendency to more easily remember my sins, and condemn myself, than remember my unity with (and therefore position in) Christ. It's evidence of a deficient acceptance of the grace of my Father through the work of his Son. It's proof that I am not growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And that, my friends, is a class-A problem.
You see, our Father wants us to grow in grace. To grow in the knowledge of grace. To bask in the grace of his forgiveness, grace that covers all our sins. Grace that...
...is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving. (B.B. Warfield)
...is love that cares and stoops and rescues. (John R. W. Stott)
...is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against him. (Jerry Bridges)
...is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it. (Paul F. M. Zahl)
My problem (and maybe you share it) is that the Gospel - the grace of God in his free acceptance of me and forgiveness of my sin because of the cross of Jesus Christ - is the story that defines the cliche "too good to be true." It just doesn't seem possible, like, really possible. That it is really true. I mean really true. No, really, for real.
But it is true!
Despite my sin, despite my failures, despite my unbelief, despite my many desertions of Jesus, despite my cowardice, despite my pride, despite my lack of sacrificial love, despite all the reasons it seems it couldn't be possible...I am still loved, still accepted, still a part of God's family, still seen by the Father in the same way as he looks at his Son who sits enthroned at his right hand.
That is true, and stunning, and amazing!
Jack Miller writes:
God has loved me so much that he covered me over completely with the righteousness and blood of his Son. And there’s no more feeling on his part of any kind of having any anger or disapproval with me and no matter what may come out of my past, out of my memories of what anyone may have said against me, good, bad, or indifferent, whatever it may have been, I live before God, and have a freedom from God and that freedom is powerful.
I am a son of God, or you are a daughter of God, through propitiation . . . and that is unshakeable. It will never be repealed. It is a complete forgiveness.
But more than a complete forgiveness, it is a total reconciliation with God. And it means that he is your friend forever!
Let me give you that same kind of thinking, undiluted, directly from the Bible. It comes from John, the disciple arguably closest to and most loved by Jesus:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1:7; 9; 2:1-2; ESV)
Why did John write these things? Why do I write these things? Why do we all need to hear them?
We are writing these things so that our joy [yours and mine] may be complete. (1 John 1:4)
Or, as my friend Joe Thorn pithily stated,
See your sin but focus on Christ.
I love the Bible! I love that God wants me to experience, know, and live joy! Friends, to know the grace of God through the forgiveness of Jesus is to know true joy. Is to be joyful.
For what could be more joyous than knowing you are forgiven of all your sin?