When it comes to sin, human beings are prone to one of two errors. Either, as in our day, they do not believe in it at all or have so watered it down that it is but a pale copy of the hideous reality; or, as in the Middle Ages, sin so grips the mind that the reality of a merciful God is practically regarded as little more than fancy and recourse had to others, like Mary, to find a balm for the troubled heart.
But as in a few other areas of the Christian life, Christian orthodoxy—oh what a lovely phrase that is in our day of rampant error—affirms both. Sin is real, far more real than we moderns—or should one say, post-moderns—like to admit. It goes down deep into the recesses of our being, and so leaves its ugly stain upon all of our thought and spoken words, upon our every act and gesture.
But, equally Christianity affirms that there is a God—the one, true and living God, who is the God of Israel and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—who ever delights in mercy, is slow to anger and pours out his kindnesses upon a thousand generations. It is He—and He alone—who forgives sin, casts our wickednesses into the depths of the sea, and removes them from us as far as the east is from the west. The forgiveness of sin is a reality, as real as earth and sky.
For the most wicked tyrant and murderer, for the vilest of men, there is offered a genuine place where their sin can be dealt with and the burden of it rolled from off their backs. But equally so, for the one who takes pride in his religious achievements and firm moral principles, but who is a stranger to living for God’s glory—for such pride and God-forgetfulness there is forgiveness as well.And the place to find this forgiveness? In Christ crucified alone.
The chorus by Ralph E. Hudson says it well:
At the cross, at the cross Where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away…
What a mercy to know such a God! How unspeakably rich those who know Him and the forgiveness he freely offers—yes, freely, but oh, at what cost to his dearest Son!