Something has gone wrong in our world. It is supposed to be scientifically sophisticated and morally liberated. But it isn’t. What’s gone wrong? In every major city in America the crime is up. Some people don’t like the word sin. They believe it is for the other person, not for them. But everyone recognizes that the human race is sick and whatever the disease is it has affected all of life. What is this thing called sin? The Westminster Confession defines it as, “any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.” Sin is anything contrary to the will of God. Sin is missing the mark. It is rebellion. Sin is selfishness.
When I affirm I believe in the forgiveness of sins, I do so not simply because it is a part of the Apostles’ Creed, because it is God’s way of restoring broken relationships. Sin destroys relationships, builds barriers, erects walls, and separates us from God and one another. Forgiveness reunites, breaks down barriers, and heals broken relationships. Forgiveness is the way God would have us to deal with our brokenness and estrangement.
The reality of sin within our personal lives and in our society is all too apparent. Good intentions and even education are not adequate safeguards against self-centeredness, bigotry, hatred, jealousy, envy, and evil. We can want what is right, but evil is close at hand. Forgiveness may not ever be able to erase from our memories the pain of wrong and foolish decisions. But forgiveness enables us to put them in perspective, and to turn them into a vision of what our lives can still be through God’s grace. Forgiveness transcends our sins. Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
God’s forgiveness is often made real only when we forgive others. It is difficult for a heart filled with resentment against another person to be open to God’s love. If we do not love those we know and with whom we work and live, how can we truly love God? Our Lord’s Prayer suggests that human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are closely associated with each other. I am personally thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness, and for what it has done in my life and therefore I can affirm I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
When you forgive, you are free to make a new beginning. You are free to stop your wandering and come back home. Thank God that he is a forgiving God in an unforgiving world. And because he is we too can be people who forgive as we have been forgiven. We too can confess, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins!”
See you Sunday in church!