Sunday, March 22, 2009

Transgressions Erased - Isaiah 43 Part 2

"I, even I, am the one
who wipes out your transgressions
for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins."
(vs 25)

Let me begin with some contextual background of this chapter. That background sets the stage for verse 25 which so wonderfully speaks of the forgivenenss that is ours in and through Christ.

Beginning in verse 8 of chapter 43 God proposes a challenge to the worshippers of idols to offer valid proofs of the existence of their gods. He asks them for witnesses. He asks them for testimony. There is none to be had. In verse 10 God's own people are summoned to "give a witness" to His Divine character and deeds. If you know Him, you realize that's not a very hard request. In the latter part of the verse the Messiah, that Chosen Servant, appears as the star witness. His testimony is given "in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He."

Christ's testimony is that God is eternal - past, present and future. There never was, nor ever will be any God but this God. "Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the LORD; and there is no savior besides Me." (vs 10-11)

This God of whom Christ speaks - this God who Christ is - goes on in verses 14-21 to assure His people that He will crush the cruel hold that their oppressors have on them. He is their "Redeemer, the Holy One" and He has not and will not abandon them.

To spur them along in their faith He reminds them of all the marvelous things God has done for His people in ages past. He made a "way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters." He brought His captive people out of Egypt and rescued them from the chasing hordes of Pharoah's army. If He could do that, He can do this. Remembering God's faithful dealings with us in times past is a great encouragement to us in times present!

He even goes so far as to tell them that the former things will pale in comparison to the latter things He will do (see verses 18-21). While there will be great and amazing things surrounding the release of captive Israel from Babylon, the greatest thing will come to fruition in Christ the Messiah. The most amazing work of bondage breaking that God will accomplish for His people will be seen not in freeing them from Egypt or Babylon but in freeing them from the wages of their sin! A strong man might be able to free captives from a strong kingdom but only the God-man can free prisoners from the kingdom of sin, self, and Satan.

In verses 22-28 we get glimpse after glimpse of the effect the fall has had on us. We have fallen in Adam. "Your first forefather sinned" (vs 27). We continually sin with Adam in both our omissions and in our commissions. We do not do that which God has called us to (omission) and we do that which He has called us NOT to do (commission). Sin is serious - it is said here to be a burden to the omnipotent God - that is serious! "You have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities" (vs 24).

Yet God, who rightly despises our sin, does not treat us as our sins deserve. Instead, in amazing mercy, He sends His Chosen Servant - the spotless Lamb of God - to live the life we could not live (a sinless one), to die the death we deserved to die (a retributive one), and to rise again on the third day that we would rise again on the last day! "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." (1 Co 15:20-22)

Now, all of that said, here is the kicker for today - this is marvelous! Verse 25 of Isaiah 43 sums everything up. God says, "I, even I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins."

My head shakes in disbelief, yet my very life is a testimony of the reality of these wonderful words. My sins were as scarlett but He has washed me white as snow! I am a new creature in Christ, the old has gone the new has come. He no longer calls me a child of wrath but has adopted me as a child of God! The Lord Jesus Christ has wiped my slate clean!

"I, even I am the one who wipes out your transgressions." Notice it is "I {God}, even I {God} who wipes out your transgressions." God is the one who has done this marvelous work of blotting out our sins. God has done it of His own free grace.
"Thy works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart;
they tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart.
Thy pains, not mine, O Christ, upon the shameful tree,
have paid the law's full price and purchased peace for me.
Thy cross, not mine, O Christ, has borne the awful load
of sins that none in heav'n nor earth could bear but God.
Thy righteousnesss, O Christ, alone can cover me:
no righteousness avails save that which is of Thee.
To whom, but Thee,
who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?"
(Horatius Bonar, 1857).
"What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." (Robert Lowery, 1876).

"I, even I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake." It is God who has done this marvelous work and He has done it for His own glory. "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us." (Eph 1:5-8).

I am saved not to bring glory to myself but to bring glory to the God who has so marvelously saved me from the pit that my thoughts and actions deserve. Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That is why He created us and even more specifically, that is why He saved us. The more I find myself conscientiously seeking to glorify Him, the more I find myself consistently enjoying Him. It's a good place to be!

By grace, through faith in the redeeming work of Christ the slate of our sins has been wiped clean. "As a debt is blotted out not to appear against the debtor. The book is crossed as if the debt were paid, because it is pardoned upon the payment which the surety has made" (Matthew Henry). What shall I say in response to these wonderful things?

"Arise, my soul arise, shake off your guilty fears; the bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears: before the throne my Surety stands, before the throne my Surety stands, my name is written on His hands." (Charles Wesley, 1742).

"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisiting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross." (Col 2:13-14).

I am now a debtor to mercy alone.

And here's the kicker, not only has He wiped the slate clean but He has promised to NEVER bring it up again. He won't throw it in my face. He won't rub my nose in the sins of my past. "I will not remember your sins." How gracious and above us is the omniscient God - who knows our sins better than we do - yet will not hold them against us.

Here is the glorious blessing of the gospel to us - "I, even I, am the one who wipes away your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins."

Wiped clean,


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