From the Pastor’s Pen:
“Blessed...” (Matthew 6:9-12a)
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,”
At my dear Raymond Presbyterian Church, our youth group has begun studying the topic of prayer. One of our young folks asked a wonderful question that you may have asked yourself: “Why do we ask for forgiveness if we’ve already been forgiven?” What a question! What does Scripture say to this issue?
One the one hand, John says, “Christ cleanses us from all sin.” Not some, not most, but all sins. As Ralph Erskine pens: “She comes, as guilty, to a pardon free; As vile and filthy, to a cleansing sea; As poor and empty, to the richest stock; As weak and feeble, to the strongest rock; As perishing unto a shield from thrall; As worse than nothing to an all in all.”
Zechariah paints us a vivid picture of Erskine’s sonnet. Satan stands before God condemning Joshua - the priest in dirty clothes. (To be honest, Joshua was more than likely condemning himself for getting into such a predicament.) Joshua does not take his suit down to the river to wash and scrub until his fingers are raw. No, God takes off Joshua’s dirty robes and puts a clean turban on his head and clothed him with clean garments. God dealt with the dirty laundry while Joshua enjoyed the new clothes. In the same way, Jesus replaces our filthy rags with His robe of righteousness.
On the other hand, John says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Wait, John - haven’t we been cleansed already? I hope you are sitting down because I’m about to blow your mind - as often as Christians eat, Christians sin; therefore, we need daily forgiveness as much as daily bread. Am I right? Christ clothes us in a new robe, and we turn around and get it dirty! We often feel a great guilt about bringing our sin into God’s perfect presence, do we not? As my grandmother would say, “Don’t bring your muddy feet into my clean house!” But as Jesus says, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” (John 13:10) We are completely clean in Christ; but, daily we get dirty. Guess what we do? We go back to Christ day after day, repeatedly enjoying the “fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s vein [where] sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
Now, let’s put some legs on this. David commits the great sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of Uriah. After Nathan confronts David and says, “The Lord has put your sin away.” In days to come, David would write Psalm 51 - “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” Reader, if you have never enjoyed salvation, Christ stands ready and willing to replace your rags with His righteousness. Christian, if you have sinned, then you know the great pain that comes with losing “the joy of your salvation.”
Daily seek the sweet forgiveness and have your joy restored.