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Wiped Clean – Moving Forward in a Grace-Filled Life

This past week I upgraded my smart phone, and in the process I had my old phone wiped clean in order to trade it in and get a small refund. The clerk who helped me through this process asked me, “Are you sure you want your old phone wiped clean?” He told me that everything on my old phone was backed up on iCloud, but once he wiped the phone clean, everything on that phone would be completely gone. I told him to go for it, and he did. Clean. Gone. No data, notes, pictures, contacts. When I went to retrieve everything through the iCloud, though, guess what? Some of the data didn’t make the transfer. Since my old phone was completely wiped clean, I had no way to retrieve my old notes. And I had a lot of notes.

As I bemoaned my loss, I thought about how many of us struggle with the belief and conviction that when we confess our sins to Jesus, He completely wipes them clean. Gone. Removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). We struggle with this, because we can retrieve our old data, mistakes, memories, sins, and we often do. We remember our sins, and we condemn ourselves.

The liberating message of grace is that God “will remember [our] sins and [our] lawless deeds no more” (Hebrews 10:17). The Hebrew concept of remembrance is to recall past deeds or actions into the present. This is more than just thinking about something in the past; it is bringing the implication of that past into the present. For example, when Jesus said we are to take of the bread in communion in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19), we are not just thinking about Jesus, we are bringing the implication of His death on the cross into our present reality. The past sacrifice of Jesus’s life brings the present reality of grace and transformation. “And by that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

This truly is good news. Amazing news. Incredible news. If God chooses to remember our sins no more, then the implication of our past actions will no longer be held against us. If God were to remember our sins, we would stand condemned. But since God remembers our sins no more, then our sins are no longer held against us. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Now the question becomes, what do we do with that freedom? The writer of Hebrews gives us three actions. First, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). Second, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (verse 23). Third, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (verse 24). Three verses, three challenges, three actions of moving forward in the grace-filled life. Draw near to God. Hold fast in your faith. And take the focus off yourself in order to stir up others to love and good works. Good words to live by as you live out the freedom found in Jesus Christ.


Pressing in to Jesus

Are you “pressing in” to grow closer to Jesus Christ? I’m not asking if you are growing in your knowledge of Christian doctrine, able to quote more Bible verses, or attending more religious services. Those Christian activities can help us, but many people can have deep theological acumen, quote entire chapters of the Bible, attend church services every Sunday, and still not be in a growing relationship with Jesus.

Tucked away in the Gospel of Luke, we find this verse, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on [Jesus] to hear the word of God…” (Luke 5:1). “Pressing in on Jesus.” What a beautiful description of passionate hearts yearning to be closer to Jesus in order to hear the word of God. How different this is from the experience of many cultural Christians. A cultural Christian possesses a consumer mindset of passivity rather than participation. He consumes but is not consumed. She controls rather than surrenders to the control of the Holy Spirit.

Following Jesus requires us to have a change of mind, which is what the Bible refers to as repentance. The word is metanoia, which comes from two Greek words, meta—change and nous—mind. We change from being a cultural Christian to being consumed Christian, consumed by the love of Christ. When we follow Jesus, He calls us out of the world and into His love. We are transformed in mind, heart, and nature. “The old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And so we are no longer consumers, but we are being consumed by His love. We no longer try to control our own agenda but be controlled by His agenda. We are no longer passive but active as we “press in on Jesus to hear the Word of God.”

But what does that really look like? Although there is no formula, there is a process that begins with a surrendered heart. Formulaic Christianity focuses on a checklist, where we are led to believe that as long as we do certain things and avoid other things, we’re good with God. But formulaic Christianity doesn’t transform us from the inside out. Sanctification, however, is a process of being made holy. We work out what the Holy Spirit is working in.

As in any relationship, we need time with God where we are not distracted from the demands of our schedule. We need to rest in His love. And we also need the fellowship of other believers where we can confess our sins and pray for one another (James 5:16). I ask you again, are you pressing in to grow closer to Jesus Christ? Breathe in His grace and exhale your sin and sorrow. Join others in a confessional community of God’s grace and truth. Let us be consumed and controlled by His love as we “press in on Jesus to hear the Word of God.”

“For the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

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