“Then put it in writing.”
You’re at the car dealership and the sales rep makes some promises, over and above the published price package. You’ve developed a relationship with the sales rep, and they’ve proved trustworthy.
You go home. Pray about it. Talk it over. And you’re especially attracted to those over-and-above promises that make this the best of a few deals you’re comparing. You decide to make it happen.
Back at the dealership, you sign the papers to purchase the car. Unfortunately, you discover that a few of the sweet promises offered by the sales rep prove to be untrue. You go back to the dealer and talk to the sales rep, who sincerely apologizes and explains, “I’m so sorry, I remember discussing those but I thought you didn’t want them in the package. It’s too late now.”
Should have put it in writing!
In the last few years I have grown in my appreciation for God’s forgiveness, as I strive to “know him better” (Ephesians 1:17). I appreciate it more as a merciful act of God because of his loving relationship with me. He’s my Father. I’m his child. I enjoy and adore and delight in him and his forgiveness.
Then, I read this verse and something else about God’s forgiveness jumps off the page. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
This is God’s own word that, yes, forgiveness from God is always relational, based on his loving disposition of mercy toward sinners.
Yet, forgiveness from God is also always transactional. It is based on a contract, an agreement. Yes, God is always faithful in his love to forgive me, yet he also is obligated to a contract forged by his justice and holiness. Here is that contract:
It would be unjust of God to expect two payments for the same debt.
Just a couple verses later, the Bible says that Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2). Jesus paid the debt that redeems us from sin’s curse and control. God’s justice is satisfied.
God’s justice cannot demand that you make any more payments. The payment has already been made by Jesus.
God’s justice cannot expect that forgiveness will be based on your better performance. Jesus’ performance is enough.
That’s how committed God is about his promise to forgive you. He puts it in writing.
PRAYER: Dear faithful and forgiving God, accept my repentance for my sins because you are merciful, but also because you are just. Jesus has met your demands for the debt of all my sins. I am free! I am yours. I am forgiven. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Keep these two verses from 1 John in mind as you meditate on your life of repentance. Reflect on these questions: Do you avoid repentance because it feels gloomy and dark? because it has become a duty more than a delight? How do these verses help you improve your life of repentance? what will that look like? How can you take some first steps this week? Who can you tell about it so that they can pray for and encourage you?