Psalm 86:5 (NIV)
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
This verse is a great reminder to us! God really does love us … despite our sins and failures! As God declared in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Why? Because He remembers His covenant forever … the promise He made … for a thousand generations. (Psalm 105:8) Yes, the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God … slow to anger … abounding in love and faithfulness. (cf. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) Do you see the diversity of biblical writers who share this same truth?
Psalm 103:13-14 (NIV)
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; 14 for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
God desires us to be holy. He wants us to be perfect … yet He knows how we are formed and remembers that we are but dust. In our human state, we will not fully attain the holiness that God requires. But in His love … in His compassion for His children (those who fear Him) … God provides His salvation for us. God gave us His Son … that through Him (Jesus) we might be saved and hidden in Him … covered in His holiness … and beneficiaries of His righteousness. Yes, His righteousness is imputed to us through faith! Why? Because we would never be able to attain these things for ourselves. If salvation were possible within ourselves or through our own deeds, then there would be no need of a Savior….
For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Someone reading this blog needs to know these truths! Someone needs assurance that God truly loves them. My child; my friend; my brother or sister in Christ … I can assure you … through the truth of the Word of God … you are loved! You ARE loved! The Lord God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3) Only I caution you, I urge you, to not dismiss or forsake the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience; rather, understand that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. (cf. Romans 2:4) Seek His heart! Ask Him to create a clean heart in you. For who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin? (Proverbs 20:9) But what does the Scripture say?
1 John 1:8-10 (NKJV)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 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 that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
I am reminded of the Prayer of Repentance and the Prayer for Reconciliation that King David offered before God … and recorded for us in Psalm 51. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm, but I have reprinted Verses 1-12 here for us to consider:
Psalm 51:1-12 (NKJV)
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight— that You may be found just in Your words, and blameless when You judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Yes, sin has separated us from God … for He is Holy! And though God hates the sin in our lives … He still loves the sinner. So He gave His life … the life of His Son, Jesus, for sinners. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). That is how much He loves you and me! God provided His own sacrifice for our sins … one not offered by us for ourselves – (inadequate and insufficient) … but one offered by Himself and for Himself and for our sakes that would be the “propitiation for our sins”. (cf. 1 John 2:2)
1 John 4:7-16 (NKJV)
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected (completed) in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
If you think about it, our sin(s) is usually rooted in the absence of love … whether the absence of love for God or the absence of love for other people. Our sin stems from the lack of deep compassion … the lack of sincere respect for others (or ourselves for that matter). And when we fail to love other people who we can see … we fail to love the God who created them that we cannot see. (cf. 1 John 4:20) The question, really, is not whether God loves you. He does! The question here is whether you love God. I pray that you will not confuse the remorse for your sin … the conviction of the Holy Spirit that your sin separates you from our Holy Father … as some sort of confirmation that God cannot and does not love you. He does love you with an everlasting love. But He wants you and I to respond to His love. He wants us to fellowship with Him. He wants His love for us to be completed in us … to come full circle … and that is accomplished when we love one another as He has loved us! I firmly believe that the sin in our hearts and lives can be distilled down to one issue: The absence of sincere love for other people! We have this commandment from God: that he who loves God MUST love his brother also. (1 John 4:21)
So go back and read 1 John 4:7-16 again. Now consider that if you want to live a sinless life … a holy life … then determine in your heart that a life of love (love as God has demonstrated it towards us) is the key to the accomplishment of your desire. If we love one another, God abides in us! What was the sin the David confessed and repented from in Psalm 51? Was it not for the lustful desire and willful violation of Bathsheba (a married woman); and the willful murder of her husband Uriah on the battlefield; and the ultimate death of the infant born to them out of wedlock? Where was the love of others in the heart of David when all these events occurred? There was no love! There was only the evil intent and inclinations of his heart … sin manifesting itself as the absence of love for others, and therefore, the absence of love for a gracious and loving Creator! And if we honestly evaluate our own hearts and lives – are we any more innocent than David? Are we any more righteous than a man who sought after God’s own heart? If we fail to love one another – we sin and fall short of the commandment of God:
1 John 3:23 (NKJV)
23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave commandment.
1 John 4:21 (NKJV)
We have this commandment from God: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
1 John 5:1-5 (NKJV)
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves Him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—your faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
2 John 1:4-6 (NKJV)
4 I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. 5 And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
I really do not know how the message of God … the commandment of God could be made clearer to us than what the Apostle John has shared with us. Again, I challenge you, that the question we should ask ourselves is not whether God loves us; but rather, we should ask ourselves if we truly love God. And the answer is not something we can just verbalize. Remember, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar.” No, love is something we actually do! When we love one another … we will not give into temptation … we will not pursue the sin that so easily ensnares us. When we love one another, God abides in us and His love is completed in us. Yes, this is how we know He abides in us. He has given us of His Spirit … and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law. (cf. Galatians 5:22-23) As the Apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 8:3-4 (NKJV)
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Romans 13:8-9 (NKJV)
8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13-14 (NKJV)
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
God has declared and demonstrated His love for us. There is no question or doubt about it! What He wants to see is our love for Him! His love for us was demonstrated through the sacrificial death of His Son. Our love for Him is demonstrated through our sacrificial love for one another. We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices … holy and acceptable to God … which is our spiritual worship. (cf. Romans 12:1) So, I pray that each of us (just as our merciful, compassionate God and Savior) will be forgiving and good; abounding in love to all those God has placed in our lives. May we in truth fulfill His commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. For this is how we will know, and will experience, His love for us and in us. Amen.