To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.
Show me your ways, O LORD , teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you. Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!
There’s never a yesterday with the Lord. His mercies are new every morning (Lament 3:22-23). No matter how much we messed things up in the past, each day we’re given a fresh start. Each time we confess the slate is wiped clean and all things are made new. That makes it a good idea to confess each morning.
Sometime back a debate with members of a Christian news group demonstrated how some folks apply these truths only to themselves. Demanding that God extend mercy to them, they insist on His justice for everyone else.
The debate reminded me of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke 18:9-14. As the two men went into the Temple to pray, the Pharisee, full of self-righteousness, began to thank God that he was not like other men, and certainly not like the tax collector beside him. He then reminded God of all his good works.
The tax collector, on the other hand, cried out for mercy, asking forgiveness for his sins. Jesus told His listeners that it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee who went home justified (regarded as though innocent) that day.
My e-mail debaters had picked out a hand full of verses they were using to rationalize drumming sinners out of the church. When I asked if even they would be left when the excommunications were finished, they sent me some verses on forgiveness, applying them only to themselves of course. Turns out they were only railing against certain other kinds of sinners, not like them. And they had already decided that everyone who disagreed with their view was beyond forgiveness.
But the truth is that all sin leads to death, there’s no degree of heinousness. Yes, we’re called to obedience and every mature believer understands that. Plus there’s great blessing in keeping the commandments. But the day we’re perfected is the day the day we’ll stop sinning and not until. (Thank the Lord that He already sees us that way, instead of the way we currently are.) The drunk, the adulterer, the thief or the gossip who drops to his knees before the cross and receives salvation, and then stumbles back into his old ways for a time will be forgiven and restored to righteousness every time he sincerely asks, just like you and me (1 John 1:9), and is no worse a sinner than we are. We’re told to extend him the same forgiveness we receive and to look upon him with pity and compassion saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.”