Scripture Reading: Isaiah 1:11,18, Isaiah 53:4-5, John 1:29, Hebrews 9:11-14, Hebrews 10:1-14
I forgot the gospel again today. I forget it all the time. I have salvation amnesia, persistent forgetfulness, dementia of the gospel sort. It starts out like every other day, waking in the still dark morning, shuffling around the kitchen for coffee, disoriented until I have it. I try to read my Bible, try to look at my to-do list, try to will myself over to the broom and the mop. I am glassy-eyed, tired, and all I can see is my litany of morning failures—already and already I have forgotten the gospel.
As much as I know, theologically speaking, that Christ died for all the sins of the world (John 1:29), I still find myself spending the beginning and middle and end of every day, trying to save my own self from my own self. I’m convinced, constantly, that I am not enough or somehow too much, that I will never be worthy. A friend once said the way to stop sinning is to stop looking at your sin and look instead at the cross. But I am like Narcissus of old, enraptured by my own reflection—gross as it is. I cannot look away, and so, glutted on the insufficiency of myself, I forget the gospel.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us get caught up in our dead works: sacrifices and sin offerings with the hope of self-purifying our flesh; bargaining chips and weak promises; repeated attempts to confess but not truly repent or actually change. The prophet Isaiah’s words still stand for us today: God is unimpressed by our empty and useless offerings (Isaiah 1:11-18). Even more, He is disgusted by them.
The reason I think He is disgusted is because I think I am disgusting. I think my fear makes me putrid, my brokenness makes me weak, and my sin has stained me crimson. I am right about the latter; my sin is deep. But I am wrong about the former; God is not disgusted with me. And all my attempts to clean myself only prove I still don’t see Christ’s sacrifice as all-sufficient for all my brokenness and for all time. The Father has inserted the image of Christ between me and my reflection, yet I still try to look around Him, forgetting that He is there and that He is sufficient.
In one way or another, we all have various empty reflections we run back to, thinking, When God said this He must have meant that. We struggle to believe that when He said “once for all,” He really meant it: one sacrifice for all time and all people who would believe (Hebrews 10:1-14).
What would it mean for you today, to believe your attempts at self-redemption are vain, meaningless, and empty? How might your day-to-day life change if you were to keep your eyes fixed on the cross, instead of on your sin and circumstances? As a child of God, what would it be like to truly believe that “the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of this world!” (John 1:29) also came to wash your sins away?
“Come, let us settle this,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are crimson red,
they will be like wool.”
- Isaiah 1:18
Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.