A couple of weeks ago, while working in my yard, a yellow jacket stung me on the hand. It really hurt and continued to hurt. I asked Debbie what to do. She said dip it into bleach and hold it there. (I had heard of this home-spawned remedy before but I had my doubts.) When I held it in the bowl of bleach, it wasn't long before it stopped hurting. In fact, it was almost instant. I thought some about that bleach and its healing effect. My first thought was that this was a cleansing agent. Yet, it took away the sting's pain. Then I thought about how the Bible refers to sin's sting. But the blood of Christ has taken away that sting for everyone who has believed in Christ. He has cleansed us. Yet, is it not somewhat true that when we cave into sin while on this spiritual journey, there is a sting or stinger left in the form of guilt and sometimes shame? Even worse, the Bible makes it clear that it is not salvation that is lost but it is our fellowship with God that is broken. Truly that stings!
Thankfully, God has made a provision for us found in I John 1:9 that states: "If we confess (agree with God) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It is a simple provision based, not on what we do, but on what Christ has done. We simply appropriate that grace-provision.
When Jeremiah exposed the gaping distance between the standards God had commanded in His word and the values his people had settled into--especially when he would speak of God's disdain and intentions concerning their unrepentant hearts-- their response was only: "God would never do that! Why are you always so negative Jeremiah? Don't you know the Lord loves us? I could never imagine God being harsh toward us."
The Hebrew people would not listen as Jeremiah diagnosed their sin problem. When he tearfully relayed the prognosis of sin's consequences, they only mocked him and persecuted him. Sadly, the Book of Lamentations follows the Book of Jeremiah. As the Apostle Paul wrote: "God will not be mocked." (Galatians 6:7) The law of reaping and sowing will indeed prevail - that is, unless sinners humbly reach out for the grace of God. Jeremiah pleaded with his generation, asking why should anyone stubbornly resist God's grace and be forced to face His justice? (27:12-13; 38:20).
We, who have trusted Christ, do not have to face God's justice, because that issue has been settled for us "in Christ." But we can stubbornly resist the Holy Spirit calling to our mind those subtle sins and thus, live with less than His rich fellowship.
Let's be thankful that for our generation of believers this gracious opportunity of forgiveness and restoration with God still exists. Let's not take that lightly. Our own "Book of Lamentations" need not be written. Grace can prevail. Forgiveness is available. . .even inexhaustible. In Christ we can instead inscribe songs of restoration and relief.