As I was driving to the office this morning, the song “East to West” by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Even though I can’t carry a tune in a proverbial bucket I started singing along. I was in the car alone so I sang out making a joyful noise. As I was singing, the words of the song penetrated my heart. I began to think about the sea of people that haven’t heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. It saddens me that multitudes upon multitudes have never experienced forgiveness and salvation. I also thought about those who have heard this wonderful gospel of grace but continue to doubt God’s promise of forgiveness. In my experience, I’ve heard so many say, “God can’t forgive what I’ve done” or “it just sounds too good to be true.” If not that, many seem too embarrassed to talk to God about their sin and therefore never ask Him to forgive them. And lest we overlook it, many of us rather enjoy our sin and prefer to hang on to it and suffer the consequences instead of admitting that it is sin and repent.

In case you’re not familiar with the song “East to West,” I copied a couple of the stanzas for you:
“I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again
Your truth is drowned out by the storm I’m in
Today I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way

Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west?
‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been
Rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other”
East to West, Casting Crowns

You might wonder about the biblical basis for this song? If so, this is the text.

PS 103:6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Why do we need to be forgiven? It is because we are sinners. RO 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .”  So then, what is sin? Anything we say, think or do that falls short of God’s standard for righteousness. Here are just a few verses that establish the basis for the definition.

JA 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
1 JN 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
1 JN 5:17 All wrongdoing is sin . . .
JA 1:14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

What is the result of sin? Because God is holy and righteous, our sin makes it impossible for us to have a personal relationship with God. Our sin makes us enemies with God. In fact, the ultimate end of our sin is death (eternal separation from God).

ISA 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
RO 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  He died to pay the penalty for our sin.

1 PE 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

RO 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

EPH 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

What is forgiveness? The word “forgive” in the New Testament means to pardon, to cancel a debt. Are you ready to leave your sin behind and experience true and genuine forgiveness from the Lord?

RO 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

1 JN 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

How does God’s forgiveness impact our relationships with others?

EPH 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

As the song says, there is a war raging. We are constantly inundated with the evil deeds of people. And, for that matter, we are routinely reminded of our own sin, even the sins of our past that God has already forgiven. As you know, somedays the temptation is strong and it envelops us in its darkness. But be of good courage. When we confess our sins, God washes our sin away. He has removed our sin as far as the East is from the West. After all, it is only God that can purge us and create a clean heart within us. As a result, we don’t have to live under the weight of guilt any longer.

PS 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

I hope and pray that you embrace and experience God’s gift of forgiveness today.

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene