There are mornings that my mind awakes long before my body is willing to cooperate. The wheels start turning and the pistons begin to pump as my thinking processes fire up to begin the day. Sometimes the thoughts are encouraging, other times it is practical lists of things to be accomplished that begin to arrange themselves in my head. It is a very rare occasion but sometimes I sense the voice of the Lord speaking intentionally through my conscience some important thing that He deems me to hear while I’m still laying in bed undistracted. Today was an occasion like that. He gently whispered to my mind,
“I have made you totally clean, my son.”
It may be a simple truth to those of you who have received Christ as your Savior and Lord; yet many who have done so are like me and don’t always know how to let the theology of their forgiveness saturate their whole being. I know I am amazingly forgiven but I often fail to comprehend how deep that cleansing runs. It is easy for me to forget that He didn’tstart the cleansing and then pass the cross to me in order to retain my perfect standing before Him. It is not that I have merely been showered from above with the cleansing waters of pardon…it is that I have been plunged into the all encompassing waters of forgiveness and can never get out. I’m swimming in the shoreless sea of grace. You who have known the unspeakable privilege of being pursued and captured by Christ are in this same place with me. We are forgiven to the extent that no past, present or prospective transgression can dim our standing at all. The most heinous failure, the most recent rebellion nor the most recurring weakness within us could ever tarnish the impeccable work that Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. I’ll write what I have often said from the pulpit where I serve: “You are either comprehensively cleaned or dogmatically damned. There is no middle ground.”
Preach that to yourself when you are accused. If there is ever the occasion when you are reminded of your past, joyfully exhort yourself to remain grounded in what your Master has done for you. Satan doesn’t always have to bring charges against us because some of us are so weak in our flesh that we do that for him. We demand pennance and refuse ourselves the joy that is ours in Christ because we feel that to free ourselves from guilt would be to be in conflict with how seriously we take our sin. Unless we are careful we can live in a dusty purgatory of experience – delivered from hell but lingering on the front porch of Paradise as we struggle with whether or not we are really welcome inside. God tells us with no strings attached, “I have made you totally clean, my child.” This declaration of the Almighty is easier to believe than it is to live, but what good is believing it if it never produces a change in our thinking and living?
I’m committed on this Monday morning to denying the accusations which find me while turning up the volume on His pardon which coccoons me. I’ll put in my iPod’s earbuds when Satan or my flesh whisper doubting words of denunciation – I should not take the time to agree or defend. What good is there in dialoging with the devil? I’ll hope to hear your voice along with mine when we shout “Amen!” to God’s “You are clean!” You had better go ahead and risk it with me; live in defiance of anything that diminishes the comprehensive effectiveness of what Christ did upon the cross for you. It is no glory for Him if we walk in self-imposed purgatory. It is great glory to our King when we hear Him roar, “It is finished!” and we dare to respond, “And today that is enough for me, Lord Jesus.”
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