I. Here’s a question we all ask at some point, in some way: What can wash away my sin?
A. I can control my actions in the future, but what about my past?
I can say I’m sorry. I can ask for forgiveness. But what I did still stands, and at times, it’s like a cloud.
B. Not everything in our past haunts us. Some things we brag about. But for some things, it only takes a word, a picture, a name . . . and it all comes back.
·Guilt is a powerful thing.
·Shame can be crippling.
C. Some people try to outrun their mistakes right up to the end.
·Some people drink them out of sight, busy themselves, have more kids, give more money, serve more hours, etc.
·But none of that washes the past clean.
·As you consider your starting point—your restart—at some point, you have to look back in order to move forward.
II. It’s really a forgiveness issue.
A. You can’t forgive you. You are holding your past mistake against you. Debt
· You owe a debt to yourself that you cannot pay
· You owe it to yourself not to have done this. You’re better than that.
· No amount of future makes up for the past.
· But it's worse… not only do you owe yourself, you owe God. You are in debt to God.
B. The challenge for some is what we talked about in Week Two: mistaker vs. sinner.
· A mistake doesn’t require forgiveness—just a “do better.” A correction
· But “do better” is about the future; it does nothing about the past.
C. To move forward, your debt has to be forgiven, which means you have to embrace it as sin
· You have to say I knew I was doing wrong, and I did it anyway, which makes you feel even worse.
· Confession is owning your sin. Remember when Jesus talked about sin, he talked about it as way to restoration, not condemnation
· Maybe, embracing your sin is the only way forward. A debt has to be paid back or forgiven.
In the past when the rules were given by God, the Jewish people had to bring a perfect innocent lamb to be sacrificed to know where you stand with God on sin. God meant it to shock us, for us to see what it cost for man to sin.
Every faith tradition offers a solution, but only one person ever offered himself as the solution. I don’t have a solution. I am the solution. Either he is crazy, or we should listen.
A. John is given credit for writing the manuscript called John and three other letters in the New Testament.
· John tells us that somewhere around AD 30 another fellow named John showed up doing the strangest thing.
B. He was baptizing. The Jewish custom was for a convert to do a ceremonial washing as part of the conversion process.
· But John was baptizing, or dunking, other people.
· Matthew, Mark, Luke, Josephus, and the Qur’an all mention John the Baptist.
C. The New Testament says that everybody was going out to hear what John had to say.
Mark 1:5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him.
· This was more than a day’s journey by foot.
· The Jewish religious leaders were curious, so they went. Nobody has drawn a crowd like this.
· Could this be the messiah?
· They ask him. He said, “No. I’m not him. I’m preparing the way for him.
John 1:26–27 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
The next day, John is doing his thing, and as he looks up, he sees Jesus coming down the bank of the river in his direction. And he says the strangest thing— something that 1,500 years of Jewish tradition created a context for. For 15 centuries, Jews had been sacrificing sheep, draining the blood, to atone for (cover) their sin, to keep God’s punishment at bay.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 29 “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Luke 22:19–20 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
They still didn’t get it. And we wouldn’t have, either. Hours later, he was arrested. Beaten. Lied about. And the very hands that healed the sick and raised the dead were stretched out and nailed to an ugly Roman cross. And the gospel writers (some of whom were eyewitnesses) include an otherwise unimportant detail: whereas most victims of crucifixion suffocate under the weight of their bodies, Jesus bled to death, as the Lamb of God who had come to carry away your sin . . .
Twenty years later, Paul, the theologian, would put the events of that day into practical terms for us Gentiles to understand when he wrote:
Colossians 2:13–14 He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but . . . the blood of Jesus. I am the Lamb of God who picks up and takes away the sin of the world.
IV. You don’t have to forgive yourself because you have already been forgiven.
A. You are holding yourself hostage to a debt that has already been paid.
· Your role in restoration is to receive what has been done on your behalf.
· Every other faith system will give you something to do. Paul said, “It’s been done. Now receive it!”
· What you could not do, God did.
So, what do I do with these memories and feelings?
B. You build new mental memorials.
· A memorial is a reminder of something that happened in the past. Until now, those memories have been memorials to your failure/sin.
· From now on, they are a reminder of God’s love and kindness—a reminder that the Lamb of God carted off the sin of the world. And when he died, he carted off yours!
1. Listen… Your shame, your regret, your sin has been picked up and carted away, covered in the blood of Jesus.
2. The only thing left for you to do is to say thank you and receive it!
3. And just like Abraham’s single act of faith resulted in a right standing with God . . . Your faith, your trust in who Jesus is, what he did on the cross, will give you right standing with God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. So that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life.