Back in n Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) God said,
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
The new thing that God was doing was fixing what was broken, it was about getting rid of death. It was about making a way Home.
All those “bad things” that Bullock was talking about are the things blocking our way Home.
The more we are expected to love, honor, and obey a person the greater the offense right? If I walked down from here and punched David in the nose, I’d be in trouble right? If I punched a police officer in the nose, would I be in more trouble? You bet! What if I walked up to the President of the United States and punched him in the nose, would I be in even more trouble? Yes. You see what I’m getting at. The same action can have greater consequences depending on our obligation to love, honor, and obey them. People, the reality is that we have all punched God in the nose. And we have done it over and over and over again. And our obligation to love, honor and obey God is a lot more than what we owe to POTUS isn’t it. In fact it is an infinite obligation.
The truth is God is holy, good, righteous, and just. The truth is, the Law is no joke; it is God’s revelation of His character, who He is, and what He expects of us. The truth is if He does not uphold that Law in every way, then He would cease to be holy, good, righteous, and just. He can’t make exceptions.
All that trying to live by the law does, is show us that we can’t. It doesn’t matter if it is God’s Law which is holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:12), or the laws of your community, or even your own personal laws. All law does is show us that we can’t follow it right. That is what Paul was getting at when he said, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death” (Romans 7:10). There is no way for us to get back, to make up, to make things right, to get rid of our bad things.
All of redemptive history is about recovering what was lost in the garden. It is about getting back to the garden. It is about getting back Home to the Father.
The way back to the Father is what the Gospel is all about. It is what Easter is all about. The key to the hope we have is the resurrection of Jesus. It is so central in fact that Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NIV) If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. If you take the resurrection away, there really is no point to our being here this morning.
What we all need is grace.
What is grace? Grace is a one-way love that is willing to come to you and rescue you from the suffocating weight of guilt and shame; a love that is not based in merit, or in what Jesus can get from you. By one-way love I mean it is love that is not built on the expectation of getting anything back. It is not loving to get something, it is loving to give something; not because the love is deserved, but in spite of the fact that it is not. Grace is love that has nothing to do with what is deserved, or what is fair, or a return on investment. It is one-way love. God’s forgiveness is an act of grace in which He chooses to love us in spite of our sin, mess, and brokenness—because He wants to; not because He has to, or ought to—but simply because He wants to.
God’s forgiveness is not blind. His forgiveness does not mean overlooking sin. Forgiveness is not choosing to not see sin, or hurt, or guilt. For God to forgive, He must see our sin for what it is. He has to look into our hearts and see everything. God’s forgiveness is not about ignoring sin or excusing it. It sees it head on.
God’s forgiveness means after He looked head on at all the sin we committed, and took into account what justice required, He cancelled the debt. God’s forgiveness means that He chooses not to charge us with justice, but to bless us with grace.
That isn’t done by forgetting about it, or brushing it off, or sweeping it under the rug. It is done by taking it to Christ. It was done by nailing Him to the cross. Jesus paid your debt for you. He satisfied the justice of His Father and gave His life for you. So instead of being dead in sin, we are now alive in Christ.
Forgiveness is an act of gracious one-way love in which God decides to look at us and relate to us through the righteousness of Christ. When God forgives us He no longer holds us legally accountable for our sins in any way. It means that God has fully restored the relationship between Himself and the believer. So as far as God is concerned, you are not only guiltless, you are righteous.
When God forgives you, it is life changing. Forgiveness is life changing because…
…it sets you free. Like with the adulterous woman in John 8:2-11, forgiveness frees you from your past. It sets you free from guilt. It cancels your debts. It frees you from judgment.
…It is life changing because forgiveness heals. Forgiveness draws out the poison of anger, regret, hate, and sorrow. Because of this, forgiveness makes it possible for relationships that had been mortally wounded to heal and begin to grow again like in the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:15-21.
…It is life changing because forgiveness changes your heart. Forgiveness can accomplish what years of “do’s and don’ts” cannot. Grace moves in your heart to make you want to do the right thing. Just look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.
…Forgiveness meets our deepest need: love. We are all like the Samaritan woman Jesus met in John 4:1-42. We all fail. We all fall. We fracture others. We get fractured ourselves. Over and over again. There comes a point when we realize that no amount of self-help, positive thinking, or hard work on our part changes these realities. Everyone is broken, the only difference is in the varying degrees of brokenness in which we find ourselves.
I have been learning that the more broken you realize you are, the more the world, the flesh, and the devil tell us that we are not only unable to love, but that we are unlovable. The only antidote for this cancer of shame is love. Forgiveness is love in its most sacrificial and costly form. It is love that is not given as a reward for good behavior, good decisions, or being a good example, but is love that is given in spite of not being or exhibiting any of those things. It is love that is not driven by expectations, or weights, or measures. It is love given simply because it is chosen to be given, it is love that rushes into our bruised and broken souls and eradicates the cancer of guilt and shame.
Forgiveness transforms you. It does not leave you the same.
The good news of Easter is the Father has made a way to be both just and forgiving (1 John 1:9). The truth is He sent His Son into the world that He and Jesus created as a new part of that creation. Jesus was born like us, grew up like us, lived like us, worked like us, suffered like us, and died like us. But the best truth is that He did not love like us, or sin like us, or fail like us. He loved perfectly. He lived justly. The truth is that because of that perfectly just life, He was able to die for us, to atone for us, to substitute Himself for us. Because of His perfect love for His Father and for us, He was willing to redirect the curse of the Law and the just wrath of His Father for our sin onto Himself (Romans 5:6-11).
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