What Looms Larger When You Blow It?
What if God isn't mad about a believer's sin as much as he is sad about it?
Today’s post is below.
But, just in case you missed something. Here’s a selection of Mustard Seed articles and devotions from the past week or two. 😃 Click here to view them all.
👉🏼 4 Talking Points for Discussing Sex with Your Kids: This is a parental opportunity far more than a parental obligation.
A paying subscriber bonus post.
👉🏼 The Two Foundations: An invitation to stand with both feet on solid ground.
👉🏼 Being the Disciple Whom Jesus Loves: How the gospel calls us to self-identify.
👉🏼 Finding Grace in the Sinner's Place: When you no longer have to cover up your unrighteousness with self-righteousness.
👉🏼 Gospel Accountability: The new and better questions the cross compels us to ask.
👉🏼 Try Calling Him Jesus: For some, this may be a doorway into greater spiritual intimacy.
Now, today’s devotional post…
“According to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” — Psalm 51:1b-2
If you are like me, it is exceedingly difficult to believe the whole of my sin has been nailed to the cross. Maybe my past sins. But my present sin looms ever so large in my heart and mind.
My dog recently vomited on the rug in our den. Not only was it a disgusting sight to watch the semi-gelatinous regurgitation soak into the carpet, but it also caused a stench to waft through the house. Words like disgusting and gross come to mind. There’s just not one descriptor that actually conveys the visceral reaction to the stench.
I think this is what David is conveying by using three different words to describe his detestable acts in Psalm 51:1b-2.
He says, “Blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin.”
One word simply cannot convey his visceral reaction to his own vomit.
If your sin makes you sick, consider that clear evidence that your heart has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, causing you to be sensitive to the stench. At the same time, we must be sensitive, not only to the stench of our sin but also to the magnitude of God’s compassion.
David says it is great. “According to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
He is not talking about the quality of greatness as being better than good. It certainly is qualitatively amazing. But the Hebrew word David uses for great means “excessive abundance.” Compassion is being quantified. It is immeasurable and incomprehensible.
There actually is much to glean from a study of the Hebrew word to which David appeals for forgiveness, rahamim, (רחֲמִים). Rahamim means to “feel something in the gut.” This is a particularly relevant translation for conveying pity and grief.
Sometimes I think we believe God is mad at us because of our sinful behavior. But if we are in Christ, covered by the merits of his blood, I don’t think God as Father is as mad as he is sad.
In Ephesians 4:30, the apostle Paul exhorts the believers in the church, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
Speaking to legit believers, he assures them they are secure in their forgiven status. They’ve been sealed. As adopted children of God in Jesus, nothing can separate them from the love of Christ—not even their remaining sin.
Therefore, when the Spirit grieves, it’s like a father who grieves with pity when a child does something that would cause them harm. In that context, a father’s heart feels pain and sadness, not anger and disgust.
It is the same way with God as Father. His compassions for his own children affect him “in the gut,” where he feels pity for us as those afflicted by a disease. David’s prayer for cleansing may be analogous to a child with boils asking his father to cleanse the external wounds. Only in this case, the wounds are not physical and cannot be healed with mere antiseptic.
They must be cleansed with blood. And they have been, where on a cross, Jesus took your disease upon himself in order to give you his health.
Speaking of God’s anger, King Hezekiah declared, “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, in order that his fierce anger may turn away from us” (2 Chronicles 29:10, ESV).
That fierce anger has been turned away from us once and for all because it was turned toward the covenant mediator, Jesus, who absorbed the full fury of condemnation in our place.
King Hezekiah’s deep desire was fulfilled by King Jesus, causing the apostle Paul to assert in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there now is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Because Jesus received the justice the law demands, we receive the mercy the gospel lavishes.
As a result, the Father wants the cross of Jesus to loom larger than your sin, transgressions, and iniquity. Much larger.
In fact, in view of this staggering grace, nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne would appeal to his congregation with a cross-tethered exhortation, “For every one look at yourself (to see your sin), take ten looks at Jesus (to see his blood).”
As I meditate on the shed blood of the Savior, something happens.
My sin no longer feels like mere rule-breaking. The ugliness of my sin is no longer a legal issue. It is personal. Relational. It’s Father and son.
Having badly skinned my knees, my Father hears my cries and comes to me. Not to scold or punish. I do not see a trace of anger in his eyes.
He bends down on his knee to look me in the eyes with his. Jesus bends down, too, with palms up, that I might see his hands. The nail scars are still there.
And then, I begin to see beyond the Judge’s robe into the Father’s heart.
I begin to feel his great compassion. Fear is replaced by peace.
And I begin to deeply desire new obedience, faithfulness, and loyalty to the God who loves me beyond my wildest imaginations.
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