I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22 ESV)
Thank God, He provides fresh starts and new beginnings for Jesus’ followers. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.”1 He does this not only one time at the beginning of our Christian life, but every day, along the way as we repent and come back to Him. God erases our bad thoughts, words, and deeds, and He provides deep soul cleaning and healing that transforms us. He makes us new people from inside out.
Author Winn Collier says that the Lord gathers all our shame, sins, blunders, failures, and moral mistakes and washes them away with His wide, sweeping grace. Collier reminds us that there are no moral flaws God cannot mend, no wound He cannot heal. He mercifully rescues us and heals the most painful places in our soul, even the ones we’ve hidden for a long time. God graciously sweeps away all our guilt and washes away every regret.2
This builds upon our previous post. You can read Sins Blotted Out in Christ (Part 1)
Blotting Out a Stain
In Isaiah 44, the Hebrew verb is machah and it can mean blotting out, as we do with a stain. That’s the sense in Psalm 51. King David prays like this after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions….Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.3
If the Lord saved David after monstrous moral failures and redeemed him from his sins, there is hope for all of us who come to God, trusting in Jesus. The hymn “God Be Merciful to Me” can be sung and used as a prayer:
God, be merciful to me, On your grace I rest my plea;
Be plenteous in compassion now, Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within, Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.4
Why would any of us resist coming back to God and having our moral stains washed away? He restores our souls.
Canceling a Debt in an Account Book
Machah can also mean blotting out or erasing a debt. Paul may have had Isaiah 44 in mind when he wrote: “When you were dead in your sins…, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us. He has taken it away, nailing it to Jesus’ cross.”5
The whole Bible teaches that every person has a legal sin debt to God outstanding, yet none of us can pay it. So Christ, knowing every sin we would ever commit, took our record of wrongs upon Himself and wiped out the debt with His death and resurrection. It was cancelled forever. Now no one can ever condemn us, because our Savior, the Lord Jesus, paid the penalty in full and God is satisfied forever.
Another hymn based on Psalm 51 raises this prayer to God:
O you who hear when sinners cry, Though all my crimes before you lie,
Behold them not with angry look, But blot their memory from your book.6
God Also Blows Away Our Sins
In Isaiah, the picture is also of the Lord sweeping, brushing, wiping away our transgressions and sins like a strong wind removes storm clouds from the sky. In Houston, Texas where I live, we see this all the time. Dark, threatening, thunderous clouds can disappear quickly and a sunny sky is restored. It reminds me of a stanza from another hymn:
I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding-place:
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of Christ’s face;
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss;
My sinful self my only shame, my glory, all His cross.7
Another Take Away
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that forgiving others is not meant to be an occasional act. It is to be our permanent attitude as Christ’s followers. Jesus taught us to pray: Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.8
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Lamentations 3:22-23. 2 Our Daily Bread, July 22, 2020. 3 Psalm 51:1,9. 4 The Psalter, 1912. 5 Col 2:14. 6 paraphrase of Psalm 51 by Isaac Watts. 7 from “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” by Elizabeth C. Clephane. 8 Luke 11:4.