WORD STUDY – FORGIVE THEIR SIN
2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
I have spent the last year visiting many different churches in research for a book. I have listened to sermons on the internet and all this time I felt something deep in my spirit that was very unsettling, almost grieving. I was finally able put my finger on it as I lay in bed this morning confessing to God a rather nasty sin I had been committing, but didn’t realize it. Actually, I felt guilty over this sin all week but never really understood why I felt guilty. I mean the sin was not horrendous, it was just one of those every day sins that you commit and forget. The only thing is your spirit doesn’t forget it and that dynamic you felt with God slowly diminishes without you realizing it until one day you wake up and cry out: “God where are you.” God responds: “I’m right here where I have always been, you’ve just got that nasty little sin slowly and deliberately building a wall between you and Me.”
I am no theologian, I am not a preacher, I am just a simple teacher so I don’t know the theology involved in forgiveness of sins. All I know is that I miss that mark on a daily basis and if I am not asking for forgiveness from God on a daily basis, His presence gets dimmer and dimmer until I finally can’t stand it anymore and start repenting.
It’s like a husband who offends his wife without knowing it. She doesn’t tell him as she feels it is no big thing, but there is a rifted in that relationship. The poor slob keeps committing that offense and wonders why his wife has that little chill. Only when he tries to get intimate with his wife does it all come pouring out and he realizes what a jerk he was and repents. Suddenly that wall comes down and the chill turns to warmth.
Sometimes it is only when we try to get intimate with God does all our sin come pouring out. Yet, some people attend church Sunday after Sunday and go through the motions of praise and worship feeling nothing but thinking they are fulfilling their duty to God. I have visited church after church where there was a lot of music, a lot of praise going on but I did not feel the Spirit of God. Then there were those rare churches where I felt the presence of God the moment I walked into the sanctuary.
So what was the unsettling thing I felt in my spirit as I visited many churches? The churches where I really felt the presence of God I saw an altar where people would gather before the service and pray, weep and cry out to God in repentance. It was a church where the pastor talked about sin, explained what sin was, preached on backsliding and prayed with his congregation seeking repentance.
You want to know what broke me down into confessing my sin to God and repenting? I read a meme someone posted on Twitter that said: “There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” I heard this verse all my life but I needed to hear it again to realize I was feeling condemned for my sin. It took a preacher in the form of a meme to bring me to my knees.
WHERE ARE THE HUMAN PREACHERS WHO CAN REMIND ME OF SIN?
Practically every church I visited the worship service starts with a handful of people. The rest of the congregation comes wandering in during the worship service. You’ll never see a pastor collect the offering at the beginning of the service. People are just not interested in worship and praise. They blame the music, they don’t like the contemporary music. Let me tell you, I hate the music in the churches today, I can’t stand it. I love the old hymns and Maranatha songs and not these I like God songs they sing today. But that has nothing to do with my worship and praise of God. I can praise God if a rock band is playing or a country music group with the Southern twang is singing, if the name of God is mentioned I am all into praise and worship and feeling the presence of God.
It is not the music that keeps me from worshipping God, it is the sin in my life and it must be addressed if I am experience the presence of God. There I go again, I used the word addressed. Are we afraid of the word forgive? We have offended the God that we love and maybe like the old boy with his wife we don’t even realize it. If he blames his wife for being cold it is just like blaming the music for the coldness we feel from God. The fault dear Brutus, lies in ourselves.
We hear II Chronicles 7:14 during our days of prayer in this nation and we think, “Yeah, we need all the atheist, nonbelievers, abortionist, radical leftist to humble themselves and pray for God to save our nation.” Look again, “If my people, who are called by my name.” It is us, you and me who must humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and receive forgiveness.” We, the Christians, the believers, still sin and we must confess those sins. That old boy who offended his wife is still married to her. Just because you offend each other does not mean the marriage is over, it just needs some forgiveness. We can still sin and be a Christian but we need forgiveness and we need preachers who will remind us that we need forgiveness and not Twitter.
Forgiveness in Hebrew is salach. This means to forgive or pardon. Sounds a bit circular, but that is what my lexicon says. However, when I trace this word salach to its Semitic origins I discover it comes from an old Akkadian word salu which means to take off. It was used when a farmer would remove the yoke from his oxen. A yoke was meant to tie two oxen together and for the oxen to move around was a real burden. The one ox had to deal with the dead weight of the other oxen. When God forgives us, He removes that dead weight of sin from us, He unburdens us. The crazy thing is that that old ox gets used to carrying his partner around and only when the yoke is removed does he realize what a burden it was.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 -29: “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Forgiveness is simply God taking the yoke of sin off of us and putting that yoke on Him. The burden is lifted. Sin is a burden, Jesus is not, in fact He gives us rest.