Have you ever thought about what salvation really means? It means forgiveness of our sins and our sinful nature. It is literally God forgetting all the many and creative ways we sin. Psalm 130:3-4 says, 3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. If God kept a record of our sin, the burden would continue to be overwhelming. But God removes the weight and eternal consequences of sin and frees us to be who He intended us to be. Likewise, God gives us an example of how we are to forgive others. If we cannot release others from their transgressions against us, then we have not truly forgiven them.
Because east and west can never meet, this is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness of our sin. In Psalm 103:12 David says, As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Living according to past transgressions is unproductive and fixes nothing. In addition, God’s forgiveness of us is a model for how we are to forgive others. If we are truly believers and followers of God, we must forgive others as He has forgiven us.
David knew forgiveness of sin was a big request. In Psalm 25:11 he asks God for forgiveness even though he knew his sin was great, For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Even in the day of David, he knew the Messiah was going to fix all this and become the perfect and final sacrifice, which Christ fulfilled. We are forgiven and free because of Christ and His love for us.
Sin is sin, there is no getting around it. And when we sin, we live as though there is no right or wrong. 1 John 3:4 says: Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. It is one thing to sin, it is something completely different to continue sinning. We all sin, but we can not hide from continual sin and act as though it is normal. When we sin, we must confess our sin and work towards sinning no more.
When we work to alight our lives with God’s purpose and will for our lives, it leads us to repentance of sin that separates us from salvation that bridges the gap. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. When we allow ourselves to live in sin, and do nothing to resolve it, nothing exists but sorrow. Only through a relationship with God and acknowledgement of our sin do we find true salvation and reconciliation. Let us not find comfort in our sin because nothing good can ever come from it, only separation from God and death.
We look at physical healing as something difficult. It sometimes even requires a miracle. But the spiritual healing of your heart is even more difficult. And just like in physical healing where there are often scars, spiritual healing leaves scars as well. But when Jesus heals the sinful woman at the end of today’s chapter He says in Matthew 7:50, Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Jesus wants all of us to live in peace. The kind of peace you can only find from miraculous healing. Our scars remain because of us, not Jesus. Trust in Him and accept His complete healing because He loves us regardless of the sin He has forgiven in our past.
Psalm 106 was written as a song celebrating repentance. It reviews all God had done up until the point of its writing and gives praise to God’s unceasing ability to forgive us and save us from the consequences of our sin. At the end of the chapter in verse 48 the author sums it all up with, Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord. Because of His everlasting love and ability to save us, He deserves our praise for all eternity.
In today’s reading we are in the short book of Philemon. This book is a letter Paul wrote while in prison to Philemon, who was probably a wealthy member of the Colossian church. The purpose of the letter was to try to convince Philemon to forgive his runaway slave Onesimus. While Paul does not condemn slavery, which was very common in the Roman empire, he does make a radical statement in the beginning of Philemon 1:16 no longer a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. Paul calls Onesimus Philemon’s dear brother. This is important to all of us. No matter who we are or where we stand in society, as believers we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
When we try to follow all the rules in order to please God, we fail every time. But there is freedom in the Lord according to 2 Corinthians 3:17, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. When our trust is in Jesus to save us through His sacrifice on the cross, He removes the heavy burden of trying to follow all the rules and the guilt associated with failing to do so. When we trust in Christ we are accepted, forgiven, and free to live our lives the way God intended because we are loved so dearly by Him.
The beauty of the Gospel is that we are freed from the guilt of sin. This does not mean we can sin freely, but that we are not slaves to our sin nature. In Acts 13:38-39 Paul says, 38 Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. Previously, the law was like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. But through Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us we are free from the bondage of sin and the effects of it. We are all given a gift we could never give ourselves no matter how hard we try.