“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth…” (1 Peter 1:3a).
It seems that God allows me to see my desperate need for His forgiveness before I can receive his great mercy.
At first, I think I’m a pretty good person, but I’m glad to know He’s up there somewhere to lend assistance if I need it.
Then I get a glimpse of how great He really is. Maybe it starts with a walk in the country at night, when I’m away from city lights and am able to see the stars. I am impressed with the magnitude of His creation — and how very small I am.
I start to ponder just what it means for Him to be a Creator.
What it means for Him to be my Creator.
What it means for Him to know what is best for me.
What it means for Him to be my Designer and my Owner.
What it means for Him to have written an “Owner’s Manual.”
And then I get a glimpse of just what is in this Owner’s Manual. It has rules, policies, and best practices. I don’t always agree with those rules, and sometimes I’m annoyed that I have to abide by them. I get frustrated at Laws of the Universe which cause me pain when violated. I feel put out. I feel controlled when I’d rather be in control.
I’d rather be the Creator, the designer, and the owner of my own destiny.
So now I have a glimpse into my own rebellion. Of course, I don’t see it that way. I see it as freedom and a motivation to better myself. I see it as my own human potential.
My Creator sees it as sin. I have totally missed the mark. I threw out the Owner’s Manual, and I don’t function as He intended.
Everything is all messed up.
“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet [Exodus 20:17]’. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” (Romans 7:7-11).
Now I am totally lusting after my own way, and yet as we have learned in the previous weeks, my own lust and sin have cast me into the penalty and curse which God’s law promised.
I refuse to obey. I reject the Owner’s Manual.
“They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees” (Leviticus 26:43).
“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).
“If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve” (Leviticus 26:21).
Now life gets miserable, and I don’t connect the dots. I don’t understand why the curses are passed down from the fathers to the third and fourth generations. All I can do is blame God, shaking my fist at Him in His injustice.
But what if I do connect the dots? What if I do see my sin for what it is? What if I do repent, calling out for His mercy and forgiveness?
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O YHWH;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, O YHWH, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:1-4).
I would like to quote from Chuck Swindoll:
“The sovereign Most High God is ruler over our lives. So it’s obvious that if we ever have the feeling of relief, God has given it to us. He’s the author of relief. He’s the one who grants us the peace, the satisfaction, the ease. In fact, I think relief is a wonderful synonym for mercy. Mercy is God’s active compassion, which He demonstrates to the miserable. When we are in a time of deep distress and God activates His compassion to bring about relief, we’ve experienced mercy….
“The connecting link between a holy God and a sinful person is God’s love, which activates His grace, which, in turn, sets in motion His mercy. They’re like divine dominoes that bump up against one another. He loves us not because of something in ourselves but because of something in Himself…. Grace prompts mercy… and there it is: relief!“ (Source)
This relief brings us to our knees in joy and thankfulness!
“Praise YHWH, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise YHWH, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).