Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:9
"Who can say, "I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin”?"
There are four ideas that could be implied here: One, that it is impossible to ever completely cleanse yourself after you have committed acts of selfishness and sin. Second, that a person cannot be completely free of the corrupting influence of selfishness and sin. Three, only God can cleanse a person of their sin as a grace gift. Four, the impact of a person's selfishness and sin echo for a very long time.
One of the things that we must face about ourselves is that we sin. Everything we do is tainted with the stain of selfishness. Also we must admit that the impact of that selfishness lingers long after its initial impact and even long after our formal forgiveness.
Solomon in 1 Kings 8:46 says it is not possible for mankind to be pure and without sin. This proverb notes the same idea.
We have a tendency to do things and forget that every action echoes long after we have moved on. It is this way with sin. When we say the unkind thing, it lands like a bomb in the heart of the other person and changes their interaction with us.
We also have a tendency to believe that when we perform some religious ritual or ceremony that we are cleansed. Emphasis on the "we perform" – any forgiveness and/or cleansing is a grace gift. We are completely incapable of freeing ourselves from the guilt, the impact, the devastation, the separation that our sin caused. Forgiveness, cleansing, purity are what God does after we sin. We just do a little thing to access what He has done.
It is important to realize that our confession of sins – which God promises will bring about forgiveness – is not what accomplishes forgiveness. God accomplished forgiveness through the perfect life of the Lord Jesus Christ and His voluntary death on the cross. God can then apply the voluntary death of this perfect, sinless person to your sin. Your confession just accesses what God has provided. You in no way are a supplier of your forgiveness through your prayers, confession, good works, etc. It is God who supplies and accomplishes your forgiveness. He provides access to the wonder of forgiveness through the simple act of Faith, Repentance, and Confession. It is absolutely amazing. Take full advantage of the gift of God: forgiveness – cleansing – relationship.
I am regularly impacted by the forgiveness of God. We do not deserve to be forgiven. We have no right to be forgiven. We will sin again even after our forgiveness. We have not earned God being forgiving towards us. God has just decided to be gracious; and when we could not earn it, deserve it, or even comprehend it, He gave it freely. The forgiveness that we receive from God is a gracious gift of the Loving God who continually says: “You can't earn or deserve my favor. I give it to you because I do love you.”
Many people want to see God as the ogre in the sky who is just waiting to bust people for violating His rules. While He will bring judgment for all those who have been selfish and sinful and refuse His love and grace, He is right now loving and gracious. He gives away access to Himself. He wants interaction with sinful, frail, finite humanity. Amazing Grace!
There is a huge difference between seeing God as the all-powerful being waiting to bust you for every infraction or seeing Him as your loving Heavenly Father who has provided for your sin and is accepting you and wants to favor you and have a relationship with you.
Jesus helps us with this picture so much with His stories of the heart of the father in the prodigal son.