A PCA church in Lake Suzy, Florida

Assurance of pardon

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).

     Two weeks ago, I discussed our need for genuine repentance – Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 7 that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” It is good and right to grieve over our sins. But at the same time, it is impossible to name every sin in our confession – we simply do not have that kind of time! In our confession of sin, our attention and focus should not be on our sin but on the gracious, merciful Father who forgives our sins. 

     As we consider our many sins, we must come to the end of ourselves. As the awfulness of our wretched souls grips us, we should be crying out as Paul does: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” That is a necessary place to arrive, but it is never a destination to remain. Again, as Paul says, godly grief…leads to salvation without regret.” 

     Paul’s answer to his dilemma tells it all: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The joy of receiving assurance of our pardon should result in such joy that we strain to find words to adequately give thanks to our God. “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psa. 30:4-5).

     This led me to consider the end of the book of Micah. Micah prophesied against the people of Israel for their wickedness. They had chased after other gods, oppressed their own people, and tolerated wicked elder and rulers in their midst. Yet, throughout Micah there is a reminder to God’s people that though they are faithless, He remains faithful. God would establish his mountain “as the highest of the mountains…and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come…” (Mic. 4:1-2). That mountain is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who was exalted and given a name that is above every name.

     When we read the closing verses of Micah, we are reminded that this mountain was still far off for them. Micah first looks back, remembering that God was merciful for passing over transgression. But that iniquity was not put away. So he then turns his gaze to the future. “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” By faith he looked to that mountain that would come, the ruler in Israel who would be born in Bethlehem and understands that the many sins of God’s people would be dealt with fully and finally.

     What a wondrous thought that we don’t have to look forward to that day, but now can walk in the light of this one who came, knowing that he died a death we deserved, taking on himself the fury of the wrath of God for our sake, that our sins would be remembered no more!

     One of the contemporary hymns that I sing quite often sums this up very well.

What love could remember no wrongs we have done.

Omniscient, all knowing, he counts not their sum.

Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore.

Our sins they are many, his mercy is more.

Praise the Lord!

His mercy is more.

Stronger than darkness, new every morn,

Our sins they are many, his mercy is more.

     As we look to Jesus, we can heed God’s call to draw near to him because of Jesus’ finished work. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).