(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
As I said at the end of tlhe last Gem, an evangelist (it might have been Ray Comfort) said, “If I had an hour to witness to someone, I would spend the first fifty minutes convincing that one that he is a sinner. It is then easy to lead him to the forgiveness of Christ.” I spent a few hours writing the last Gem, going over the Ten Commandments and analyzing them in light of New Testament Scriptures that show we have broken the ten in one way or another! James adds one more thought in James 2:10 and 11:
...whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a trans- gressor of the law.
In other words, the law is a unit! If you break one of the Ten Commandments you have, in effect, broken them all! And, as we have learned, the inner interpretation of the commandments (what happens in the mind and heart of a person) makes us as guilty as breaking the outward observance of the law! Hence…
- …we are all sinners before God! (see Romans 3:10).
- …we all fall short of His glory! (see Romans 3:23).
- …as it says in Romans 3:19, “…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
The solution? We have to do better! But can we? This is how God sees it according to Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” If our righteousnesses (the very best we can do) are like filthy rags before God (“used menstrual rags” is the meaning in the Hebrew), what does the worst we can do look like to the LORD?
We cannot save ourselves!
If we are convinced by the Word of God that we are all sinners, that we all stand guilty before our Creator, that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves; then we must look beyond ourselves to a solution of the sin-dilemma in which we find ourselves!
That solution is found only in Jesus Christ!
He died to save us from our sins! And Jesus “…ever lives to…save them to the uttermost who come to God through Him.” (Hebrews 7:25). He delivers us from…
- …the penalty of our sins! All sinners “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
- …the power of our sins! “…whoever commits sin is the slave of sin….For sin shall not have dominion over you….” (John 8:34; Romans 6:14).
- …even the presence of our sins! It is this last statement on which we will concentrate in the rest of this Gem – and it involves God’s Pardon!
I don’t recommend experiencing sins like I did before I became a Christian at age 19, nor do I recommend my early faltering growth as I tried to follow Jesus. But God has used those expreriences to help me understand what are the struggles of others who are caught up in sin. So the Lord has used even my sins and failings over the years as I minister and witness to people. But sin leaves scars, and the areas of our bodies where scars occur can remain tender and even painful for years to come! Some of the painful and tender scars are remembering how I have fallen and failed in the past, and the shame and guilt I can feel when I dwell on my transgressions. Jeremiah, in Lamentations 3:21 wrote, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” These truths from the Bible are what brings hope to me when I recall to my mind Scriptures concerning God’s Pardon:
Jesus paid for my sins!
- I Peter 1:18 and 19:
...knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot.
Although silver and gold are hyped as lasting sources for building wealth, in James 5:2 and 3 we read, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you….” Nothing compares in value to the everlasting precious blood of Christ, and nothing else will take away our sin!
- John 19:30 – Just before the Lord gave up His spirit and died on the cross, Jesus shouted, “It is finished!” Three words translate just one Greek word: Τετέλεσται (pronounced Te-tel’-es-tai), meaning “finished.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). This word was at times written on a receipt of purchase and was the equivalent of the English phase, “Paid in full.” There was no more payment needed to completely cancel the debt of our sins before God!
He washes me clean from my sins!
- Isaiah 1:18 – “‘Come now, and let us reason together’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
- Titus 3:5 – “…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
As the lyrics of that grand 1876 hymn by Robert Lowry state:
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
In Micah 7:19 there are two precious truths revealed concerning our sins:
- “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.” The Hebrew word for subdue is כָּבַש (pronounced kaw-bash’) and meaning, “to tread down…to conquer, subjugate, violate…to bring into bondage….” The LORD has totally defeated our sins by His sacrifice!
- “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” The Marianna Trench in the Pacific Ocean is 36,037 feet deep! Mount Everest (at 29,035 feet high) if it could be cut off at the base, turned upside down, and plunged into the Marianna Trench, it would still have over 7,000 feet of water (well over a mile) completely covering it!
It is there, in the depths of the sea, where our sins are cast! That great Dutch Christian woman, Corrie ten Boom, liked to say, “That’s where my sins are, and God put a sign up that says, ‘No Fishing!’”
The distance God has put between my sins and myself is unending!
- In Psalm 103:12 the LORD inspired David to write, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” I’m glad David didn’t write, “As far as the north is from the south….” Why?
✡ Because north and south meet at the poles! If you go far enough north, you will eventually get to the North Pole! At that point you will start going south! ✡ It is the same with the South Pole! If you go south far enough you will start going north at that pole!
- However, no matter how far east you go, you will never meet west! Nor will you ever meet east by going west! That’s how far God has removed our transgressions from us! Praise His name!
The great exchange – my sins for His righteousness!
- II Corinthians 5:21 – “…He [the Father] made Him who knew no sin [the Son – see I Peter 2:22] to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Our sins for His righteousness! What an exchange!
- Zechariah 3:1 through 4:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
You would think the high priest, if anyone, would already be counted as being holy before God! But he also was clothed with filthy garments! Remember Isaiah 64:6 quoted above? Even “…our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” before the LORD! But in this Zechariah passage, God Himself orders Joshua first stripped of filthy garments, then clothed with rich robes – his filthy sins for God’s own perfect righteousness!
- Isaiah 61:10 supports this truth:
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salva- tion, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
- Romans 4:24 and 25 – Righteousness “…shall be imputed to us [clothed upon us] who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
God chooses to forget the sins of those who accept Christ as Savior!
- Hebrews 10:16 and 17 (Good News Bible – see also Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12):
This is the covenant that I will make with them in the days to come, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts and write them on their minds....I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer.
- Paul, at times with regret, recalled his past! In I Corinthians 15:9 he writes, “…I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
It is not easy to forget the sins and failings before, and especially after, we became Christians. And the devil is quick to remind us how, where, and how often we have fallen! But when my mind goes back to those dark times, I remind myself of the truth of Hebrews 10:17: “I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer.” If God chooses to forget my sins, why should I beat myself up with those memories?
I saved the best for last! For what is found in Colossians 2:13 and 14 changed my life!
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having for- given you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
- Matthew 27:37 – “And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” The Pulpit Commentary on this verse reads thus:
This was the titulus. A wooden tablet smeared with gypsum, had on it, written in black letters, the charge on which the prisoner was condemned. This, which had been hung round the criminal's neck or carried before him on the way to ex- ecution, was now affixed to the upper portion of the cross over his head....It was written in three languages, so that all of whatever nationality might read it - in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek.
Officially, under Roman law, Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Since Caesar was the only one who was recognized as king, Jesus’ claim was treasonous!
In his book, Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth, Hal Lindsey further explains the use of the titulus, which he refers to as “the certificate of debt.”
Whenever a person would be convicted in a Roman court, a “certificate of debt”...would be prepared. The scribe of the court would...write down every crime for which the person had been convicted. This certificate meant that the prisoner owed Caesar a prescribed payment for those crimes. It would then be taken with the prisoner to wher- ever he would be imprisoned and nailed to the door of his cell [or affixed to the instrument of his torture and/or death].... According to Roman law, when...the sentence was carried out...they would take this certificate and write across it [Τετέλεσται]...meaning...“it is finished” [or] “paid in full.”
That prisoner, the one who had paid his debt by incarceration, torture, and/or death, could never be charged with that exact crime again – nor could anyone else!
- The titulus that was nailed to the cross over Jesus’ head was not the only list of charges secured to that instrument of death! There was another list of offenses that is called in Colossians 2:14, “…the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.” On it were written accusations such as…
➔ “Chip has had impure thoughts....”
➔ “Hope has stolen....”
➔ “Stephen has lied....”
➔ “Chris has not honored his parents....”
➔ “Ricky has committed murder....”
...and on and on and on – listing all the sins
of everyone who ever lived!
- And Jesus, after paying for all those transgressions, cried out, “Τετέλεσται!…It is finished!…Paid in full!”
And now, under the law, neither He, nor I, nor you, nor anyone who puts their faith in the Son of God, will ever be able to be charged with those sins again! Praise God…
We are pardoned!
We are forgiven!
We are free!