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Sermon 4/11/10
Isaiah 43:25 - God Is Graceful

Audio Sermon

God Is Graceful

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25)

If you wonder about the grace of God, it helps to consider what the word meant in the original languages of the Bible. “Graceful” in the English language is usually thought of as “Displaying grace in form or action; pleasing in line, proportion or movement,” as you can read in “Webster’s New Collegiate” and other dictionaries. If something or someone looks and moves nicely in the thinking of today’s world, it’s considered “graceful” to most people.

The ancient Hebrew word “Chen” (khane), often translated as "grace" in the Old Testament, translates as “graciousness, kindness, or favor.” It comes from the Hebrew word “khaw-nan” and can mean: "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, because of favor by petition, mercy and pity." Someone who is higher in station extends favor and mercy towards someone lesser than they are. You don't deserve it and they don't have to do it, but it is given to you anyway. This is so much more than saying “grace” at a holiday meal.

The Greek word “Charis,” often used in the New Testament, can translate as beauty or gracefulness, but it mostly carries the meaning of something done that causes delight in the one who receives. It’s a gift so surprising and wonderful that it causes a feeling of deep gratitude in the recipient. Grace is regarded as the “unmerited favor” of God because what God gives to us is far beyond our ability to even understand or fully appreciate the wonder of what He has done. He gave us His Son as payment in full for our sins.

To really see how graceful God is to humanity, we must gain something of His perspective on how we as members of the human race look to Him. It’s helpful to know that He sees our mistakes, as you can by reading your own diary or journal, if you have one, or by listening to the daily news. We really don’t need a diary to see our deficiencies; we simply remember them. People make mistakes, big ones, and often when our motives are examined, it turns out that as to some of them, we WANTED to do what we did. We may regret it, but at the time it happened we wanted to do it, suggesting corruption deep inside. C.S. Lewis, the great Oxford Don, said that each of us is “bent.” There is something inherently crooked in everyone who has ever lived. And this is not speaking about things that were done maliciously to US and we were truly innocent in what happened. We’re talking about the sins WE have committed; not what was done by somebody else.

People tend to hide much from themselves, and we can seem “good” because our deep hidden thoughts are concealed. We compare our outward behavior with those who seem worse than we are. They went to prison, I did not, and so I decide that I am a “good” person. Here is the way God views us all, as seen through the words of Isaiah the Prophet – “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Paul the Apostle caught a similar glimpse of how we really are, candidly remarking, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It sounds like there’s no hope, but there is more. Paul said, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). And that’s the grace, the gracefulness of God: We have NOTHING going for us, no hope, nothing, except that in God’s grace, Christ Jesus died for you and me.

My wife, Genevieve, and I have been using “The Life Recovery Devotional,” as one of our daily devotional readings for quite some time. It’s by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop, and it continues to be a daily blessing. Here’s what they wrote on Page 148, a section on confession and forgiveness, using our Scripture for today as a reference:

Our lives may seem like parched fields where good things just don’t grow anymore… We look at the lives of our children and feel ashamed. We see the desolation they suffer because we didn’t have the means to meet even our own needs, let alone theirs… The Lord wants our wrongs brought before Him so that He can flood them with forgiveness… We don’t have to leave our wrongs scattered over the landscape of our past. The Lord longs to overcome them with loving forgiveness, so that we can spring to life once again. The forgiveness is instantaneous, erasing all the wrongs in our past. God longs to replenish the landscapes of our lives and our children’s lives so that we will be beautiful to behold. When we admit our wrongs to God we can do so joyfully, reminding Him of His wonderful promises.”

That’s a longer, but effective way of saying, “I am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake” (Isaiah 43:25). We deserve nothing but God is graceful and we are forgiven when we go to the Son who died for us all. And note that this gift of “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” was not “free” – It cost Him everything. But when we trust in Him and what He has done, God makes the blessed words in our Scripture for today personal - they become our promise. Listen to Him again: “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). We can and should rejoice at the good news, but also note that Jesus, our Lamb of God, was given at a great price, for He died to save us. He died for your sins and mine.

Here is God's grace, written 700-years before Christ’s death, but presented mostly in the present tense so we might see that He is given for us, no matter where or when we live:

He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth… His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering… by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:3-12). He was given – for you.

In Psalm 22:1 & forward, we find the words, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me… They have pierced My hands and feet… they divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots...” God the Father graciously gave us His Son as a Gift, though we did not deserve Him. The One died for the many, satisfying the holy requirements of God. We failed; He succeeded. Our Lord is graceful because He paid the price for you and me. Through Him we can understand and receive the Word of God in Isaiah 43:25 - “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”

Dear God, we praise You for Your grace in providing a way for us. We confess our sins and receive what has been done in Christ. We trust in You now, Lord Jesus, and we praise Your Holy Name. Thank You, graceful God, that we are forgiven. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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