I wonder whether those of us brought up in Christian homes really appreciate the significance of these words. Having the inestimable privilege of godly parents, and an environment where the excesses of a sinful life were never known, our appreciation of the extent of divine forgiveness has been somewhat blunted.
Whilst talking to a fellow believer who had been involved in a prison ministry, he spoke of sitting over a coffee with an inmate. The inmate in question would probably spend the majority of his life behind bars. Having committed a multiple murder, involving some who were children, he realized that he was unlikely to be released. Even if he was, he spoke of the fact that he did not expect that his family, friends, or the wider society would, or could, ever forgive him for what he had done. His guilt, and the stain of his sin, would remain.
However, as a consequence of the gospel being preached in the prison that inmate had come to know the Saviour. The remarkable salvation of that man had brought a whole new perspective to our verse. Forgiveness! The record of the crime will remain etched in people’s minds. Society may not forgive, but God forgives. Moreover, the scripture states, ‘their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’, Heb. 8. 12. As part of human weakness, we forget, although some trigger may bring events back to our minds. God, in His sovereign power, chooses not to remember!
When the apostle wrote the words that form our verse, he did so as one who regarded himself as the chief of sinners, 1 Tim. 1. 15. He had been responsible for crimes against Christians, persecuting some to death. Whilst that burden weighed heavily upon him, he was deeply aware of God’s forgiveness. Like the woman of Luke chapter 7, of whom it could be said, ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much’, v. 47, God’s forgiveness determined Paul’s devotion to the will and purpose of God. What of us?
But as we ponder the contrast between human and divine forgiveness, let us also appreciate what the wonder of divine forgiveness tells us about our God. His forgiveness is ‘according to the riches of his grace’. How much God is able and willing to forgive is an indicator of the riches of divine grace! Like the child who paddles in the shallows of the vast ocean, can we ever begin to appreciate the vastness of divine grace that provided such comprehensive forgiveness to guilty sinners?
In this magazine we try again to provide material about the character of our God. May we all seek to immerse ourselves in these things that we might profit withal!
Your Basket Is Empty