April 5, 2013
Have you ever heard of Flagellants? They are people who whip or scourge themselves in a public display of penance, believing that such an act will expiate their sins and increase their standing before God. They will proceed slowly in procession, and at each step they take they will flail a whip over one shoulder and then at the next step the other shoulder, sometimes lacerating their backs until the blood flows. Sects of flagellants can be found in Spain, Italy, the Philippines and other Catholic countries. Even in the United States, in the Southwest, a Roman Catholic sect called Penitentes practice flagellation. Often this penitential rite is more prevalent during the Lenten season, when Jesus Christ was whipped by the Romans and then crucified.
I’ve never seen actual flagellation in person, but I have seen Christians who figuratively whip themselves – beat themselves up – over past sins they have committed of which they cannot seem to forgive and forget. I know, because I have been there and done that! And the common attitude is, “Oh, I know God forgives sins. I know Jesus died to pay for sins. But you don’t know what I have done! How could God ever really forgive me for what I have done?”
And then there is the problem of our enemy. Satan works hard to remind us of all the rotten stuff that was in our lives before, or even after, we became Christians. He will whisper to us, “Remember what you did when you……..? How could God ever love you when you have done that?!! And how can He ever forgive you for doing that?!!” It makes us feel like the worst of all sinners, second-class Christians, maybe getting to heaven someday, but by the skin of our teeth! And so we get out our whips!
God does not call us to come to Him through His Son Jesus just to get into heaven someday. He wants us to be filled with His Holy Spirit now, manifesting the life of the Lord through us now, and useful to bring others to Christ and build up other believers now! Such a mind set where we cannot accept complete forgiveness ties us in knots and makes us drastically less effective for service in the Kingdom of God.
Let’s look at a few gems over the next couple of blogs and see if we can better comprehend the forgiveness God offers us through His Son.
Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our
transgressions from us.
How far is the east from the west? In this case it is infinite! And isn’t it interesting that God chose the directions of east and west instead of north and south? You see, if you go north far enough, you will eventually start to go south when you come to the North Pole. Likewise, if you go south far enough, you will start toward the north at the South Pole. But if you go east you will never reach west. And however far you travel west, you will never find yourself going east! East and west never meet!!!
Now, how far has God removed our transgressions from us? “As far as the east is from the west….” And that is a long way, so great a distance that we will never be joined to our transgression – our sins – again! Praise the Lord! I am Forgiven and Free!!!