“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” – Psalm 51: 7-12.
There is a line in the book, Jesus>Religion that blew my mind. The author, Jefferson Bethke, was talking about an incident in his life. He was in the process of doing something that he knew to be a sin and went ahead and did it anyway. Afterward, he was swimming in his guilt and shame when a still, small voice whispered in his mind. “I love you. I desire you. I saw you were going to do that before I went to the cross and I still went.” The line was not a revelation, yet my eyes hovered over it, my mind refusing to move on. I just stared at those words for a few seconds. Then I read them again, letting the power of those words sink in. Jesus knew I would be a mess, yet He still went to the cross for me.
For those few seconds, I wondered what my life would have looked like to God, if not for the cross. Isaiah 64:5-7 tells us, “You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” All of my righteousness is like “filthy rags” and I am “infected and impure with sin.” Look at what Paul said in Romans 7:24 (ESV):”Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Just a few verses earlier, Paul says “…I am all too human, a slave to sin.” (Romans 7:14 NLT). God loves us in spite of our sin, and He yearns to forgive us, cleanse us and purify our hearts and minds.
So no matter what we do, we will never catch God off guard. The Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:13). When Jesus went to the cross, He saw all I’ll ever be and all I’ll ever do; but He loved and pursued me anyway. That is grace. Grace that I couldn’t earn and don’t deserve. Thanks to the cross, God no longer sees me as a ”wretched” sinner but as a child of God, as someone God thought was worth the blood of Jesus.
Right now if I died, I would go to heaven. Not because I pastored a church. Not because I participated in mission trips and taught small groups. Certainly not because of religious education, Bible knowledge or study. Not because of denominational affiliation, baptism, or participation in the Lord’s supper. If I died right now, I would go to heaven because two thousand years ago the Son of God shed His blood for every wretched person, inluding me.
- Jesus knows all about our sins, and yet He went to the cross for each of us. How do you respond to Jesus’ powerful love for you?
- What can we do this week to better understand the love and grace of God?