Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Happiness of Being Forgiven

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
(Psalm 32:1-2)
How good it is to be forgiven! It is being set free from a great and terrible weight. David understood very well what it is like to bear the burden of sin and moral failure:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
(Psalm 32:3-4)
When we try to suppress our guilt, it eats away at us on the inside. It can even make us physically ill, sapping our vitality. Though we may keep it at bay for a little while, our guilt always and inevitably catches us with us, so it is better to face it sooner than later. Selah — something to consider deeply.
But David soon recognized what he needed to do:
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
(Psalm 32:5)
Our sin can never be hidden from the Lord anyway, so we are fooling only ourselves when we try. The best thing is to bring it out in the open before Him. It is neither pleasant nor pretty, but it is necessary. It is like a boil that must be lanced before there can be healing. But God is the Great Physician, and there is nothing you or I could ever do that He has not dealt with before. In fact, He has already dealt with it all when Jesus took our sins and carried them in His body to the cross.

It is on this basis that God is able to forgive us. The truth is that forgiveness always costs the one who forgives, and Jesus paid that price for us. That is why the apostle John could confidently say, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

In Jesus Christ, not only are we cleansed of all unrighteousness, but we also receive the righteousness of God Himself. “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). A great exchange has taken place: God no longer imputes sin to our account, but gives us His righteousness instead. We receive this righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. That is really something to selah about.

Even David, though he lived hundreds of years before Jesus came, was forgiven and declared righteous on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross, for God is not bound by time. When David confessed his sin to the Lord, God saw Jesus nailing that same sin to the cross.
When David finally confessed his sin, he discovered the great happiness of being forgiven, and he closed his song with these words:
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
(Psalm 32:11)
See how wonderful and exuberant this happiness is: The word for “glad” means to be light-hearted. The word for “rejoice” means to spin around, to whirl and twirl for joy. “Shout for joy” means … well, shout for joy!

Oh, the happiness of being forgiven, to know that God is not mad at you, and to stand before Him in His righteousness!