Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
Jesus told a parable about a wealthy king who canceled the enormous debt owed to him by a servant (Matthew 18:21-35). Through this story, Jesus teaches us about how God forgives our sins. We can imagine how having a large financial debt canceled would feel like a huge relief. Debt can burden people for years, weighing down on them financially and emotionally. To have that burden lifted, must feel great. In a similar way, to have our sins forgiven brings tremendous relief.
We don’t know when David wrote these words or how he knew that God had taken away his sin. David’s most infamous sin surrounded his adultery with Bathsheba, the murder of her husband and all the little acts of deception that accompanied that sorry episode. On that occasion, Nathan confronted David, urged him to repent and then assured the king that God had forgiven him. In Psalm 51, David pleaded with God to wash him clean. Perhaps he wrote Psalm 32 around the same time. Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter when these words were written. Every sin is terrible in God’s sight and digs a hole of spiritual debt so deep that we could never climb back out on our own. David understood that his sin could only be taken away by God’s gracious act of forgiveness, and when he knew for sure that he had been “cleared of guilt,” he rejoiced: “Oh, what joy… Yes, what joy.”
We are sinners too, and through Jesus Christ, God has promised to forgive us. What joy! We know that the joy of forgiveness was purchased through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. For God to forgive my sin and yours, Jesus had to die. That was a terrible price for God to pay, but love compelled him to do whatever it took to put our sin out of his sight. Many people struggle to accept this good news. Perhaps you do too, sometimes. When you sin, you feel ashamed and embarrassed. You may want to cover up your guilt, but even if no other person knows what you did, the weight of shame still burdens you. Some people wear guilt around their necks for years, unwilling to let it go. If that’s your story, remember that Jesus didn’t die for nothing. He didn’t throw away his beautiful life on a whim. No, Jesus died to set you free. He took your sin on himself, nailing it to the cross, suffering under its weight to fully, completely pay its penalty. As hard as God’s grace is for us to believe, it’s true and wonderful. So, with David, rejoice in God’s forgiveness. He has cleared you of guilt, and that burden is gone forever. What joy!
Thank You, Jesus, for taking away my sin. I confess and repent of everything I have done against Your will. I don’t deserve Your love, but I rejoice in the knowledge that You have washed me clean. Help me to live with joy and peace, in Your holy name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian