I received a phone call last week that threw me for a loop. It reminded me of the person I once was, of a life that I used to lead before committing myself to Christ. You see, I had applied for a leadership position within an organization, and things came to light from my past. Things that had happened 12 years ago!! Nothing that I was trying to hide, but not anything that I was necessarily proud of either. In that moment, I felt that I would never be free of my past.
The devil likes to remind us of our pasts. He wants us to dwell on our darkest moments. He wants us to think that our sins are too much for God to handle. Too big for God? We know that’s not true. Yet sometimes when you’re stuck down in the muck and the mire, and your vision of the cross is obscured, you begin to forget. The devils lies start to seem a little more plausible.
”In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” Ephesians 1: 7-8
There has to be blood for the forgiveness of sin. A just God, which our God most definitely is, cannot let sin go unpunished. There must be atonement. In the Old Testament, that atonement was made through animal sacrifices. Part of the ritual of the sacrifice was that the worshiper actually put their hand on the animal prior to the slaughter, to signify their sin passing on to the animal, which then died for that sin. That is why Jesus is referred to as the Lamb-He substituted Himself on the Cross. He died once for all to cover any and all sin that had been or would be committed. He is our Blessed Redeemer-through Him we are saved.
We deserve death. Yet God doesn’t give us what we deserve; in his infinite compassion, he shows us grace. As Jo, the lector at Bible Study Fellowship’s First Lutheran class, so eloquently puts it: “Grace is God’s gift to the undeserving. If you deserved it, it wouldn’t be grace.”
God forgave and forgot our sins as soon as we repented of them. Jesus Christ redeemed them on the cross.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12.
There is no sin too big for God to forgive, no past too dark. I won’t lie, that phone call bothered me for a couple of days. Until God, in His wisdom, led me to understand that God doesn’t love me in spite of my past, He loves me because of it. I am now more fully able to understand the full measure of God’s grace because of my deep, dark past. His grace has become more palpable, more real to me now that I recognize the enormity of my sin. In redeeming my past, he has broken the chains that hold me in bondage, and now calls me to use my past in His service.
“ Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:19-23.