Not in part, but the whole

In a recent conversation with a leader who confessed his sin to me, I quickly assured him of God’s cleansing work of grace-filled forgiveness. I reminded him that his honest, candid authenticity will lead him out of the dark chamber of shamefulness and into the wide open space of salvation-filled freedom. Yes, his sin is to be recounted with a heartfelt voice of deep remorse, but the fruit of his confession will lead him to joyful freedom and release from the captivity of sin. Sin creates bondage; confession and forgiveness leads to the emancipation of the heart and renewed life in Christ.

“As far as the east is from the west” – that’s the distance that God removes our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). God is short on memory and long on forgiveness. Why are we so consistently the opposite: short on forgiveness and long on memory?

When Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” he was reeling from two major traumas of his life…the great Chicago Fire in 1871 which ruined him financially; and, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of his daughters died in a collision with another ship. “Saved alone” were the two sole words of the telegram he received from his wife Anna. Several weeks later, as his own ship passed near the place where his daughters died, the Holy Spirit inspired him to write this hymn. It’s a classic hymn, filled with hope and promise no matter the circumstances of one’s life here on earth.

In the middle of the hymn are the words, “My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

The next time you find yourself confessing your sin to God or a trusted confidante, know with great certainty and growing confidence that your sin – not in part, but the whole – is nailed to the cross, forgiven, and forgotten forevermore. May these words breathe comfort and joy into the depths of your too-oft-sinful-being. Hallelujah! I’m forgiven! It is well with my soul!