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!


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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