This past Sunday was more emotional than I expected. The chance to begin a new year, and to put the past in the past, was a great blessing. We looked at Paul’s great words in Philippians 3:12-14.
As part of the message, we gave people the opportunity to list out on a piece of paper the sins, shortcomings, failures, grudges, broken relationships, etc., etc., that they wanted to leave behind. Then, as the music played in the background, they were able to come to one of four shredders we had across the front of the Worship Center and shred the paper, representing the fact that they were moving on – leaving it behind – and will be “straining toward what is ahead.” If you would like to watch this exercise, go to last week’s service “on demand” and fast forward to the 29:18 mark in the video. https://www.madisonchristian.org/watch-online/on-demand/
God wanted his gift of forgiveness to us to be completely understandable, so he provided multiple words in the Bible that express the full nature of his forgiveness. One of the words for forgiveness in the Bible is the word that the Lord used when he told Noah to “cover the ark with pitch, inside and out.” That is a reminder that God’s forgiveness goes to every nook and cranny of our lives. Another word that gets translated forgive means “to lift up and away.” It was a word used in connection with the writing materials in the ancient world. Those papyrus sheets were so valuable that they had to be used again and again. Water was spread across the sheets, the ink would bubble up and be wiped away, and the scribe could write as if it were a brand new scroll. Yet another word that is translated forgive means to “cast into the deepest sea.” Corrie Ten Boom once wrote that “God casts our sins into the deepest sea and then posts a sign that says, ‘No Fishing.'” A beautiful image from the Old Testament is where the Priest would confess his own sins and the sin of the people over a scapegoat that was then sent out into the wilderness never to be seen again. It is a great picture of the fact that when God forgives our sins, they are gone.
Of course, to be absolutely clear, we only can enjoy this beautiful forgiveness because the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. I hope you appreciate the amazing nature of Hebrews 10:17, which is God’s message to us about his forgiveness in our lives: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”