You Put My Sins Behind Your Back

“He shall bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:11

I read in Isaiah 53 that I am “accounted righteous” because Jesus took my sin.

“Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11, ESV

I’m off the hook. My debt is paid. Case closed.

Ironically, hearing the same message of forgiveness for over forty years, doesn’t make it easy to understand. Don’t get me wrong; I believe every word of Scripture to be true! It’s just that I have a hard time letting myself off the guilt hook.

Sometimes it takes a picture to help bring the truth to closer to the heart. 

The Gospel (which means good news!) tells me that Jesus Christ took all of my sin – past, present, and future – and I receive it by faith. Even my faith is a gift from God!  When we ask God to give us the faith to believe His Good News, He does.

In Colossians, Paul gives a vivid description of the Good News with the accounting language we find in Isaiah 53. 

“This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

Colossians 2:14

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14, ESV

Many of us in Christian circles have said or heard that “when God sees you, He doesn’t see your sin, but sees Jesus instead.” I have accepted this by faith, but have a hard time understanding it.  After all, isn’t God all-knowing? Doesn’t He see everything? I know the Holy Spirit convicts me when I sin, so surely, He has to see it! But then a phrase JUMPED off the page of my Bible. 

“….You have put all my sins behind Your back.” Isaiah 38:17, NIV

The truth went from my head to my heart when I read those words. I have heard it explained to me hundreds of times in dozens of different ways, but this time it was different. 

When I approach my Heavenly Father’s throne, I am wearing a beautiful white robe of righteousness that Jesus gave me. I confess my sin and He takes it from me and puts it behind His back!  This is how a sinful me can have a relationship with my holy Heavenly Father!  It’s not that God doesn’t care how I live my life. He sees the sin that hurts me and others, takes it from me, and puts it behind His back. As Paul said in Colossians, He canceled my debt and its legal demands. He set it aside. It doesn’t even count!

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12, ESV

This amazing gift was costly to my Savior. Jesus bore the penalty of my sin and felt God’s displeasure when He cried out on the cross, 

“….’My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’” Matthew 27:46, ESV

As my sins weighed heavy on Jesus’ back, God turned His head. Those sins, with their penalty, are still behind His back! 

Imagine you find out that a wealthy person paid all your bills to date, and any additional debt of yours will be directly withdrawn from his account, not yours. If you actually believe it, your life will look a lot different than if you don’t! In those precious moments when forgetful me remembers that I’m truly off the hook, I am blissfully thankful, overflowing with love, joy, peace, and other fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)!

Because Jesus paid our debt I can sincerely wish you a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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The Shepherd Becomes the Lamb

“For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”

II Corinthians 8:9, ESV

When I read this verse, I can’t help but think about Father William Wilson, the founder of Amistad Mission in Bolivia. Many give to the poor out of abundance. Fewer give to the poor sacrificially.  Almost no one voluntarily gives up everything to live with the poor. And that is exactly what Father William did.

God has used Father William’s life to bring the above verse alive to remind me of the astounding generosity of our Savior the Messiah, Jesus. 

From my family’s visit to Amistad Mission in 2016 (Photo Credit: Clay Clark)

Father William felt that God was calling him to do something about the injustice of the oppression of the poorest in society. Before moving to Bolivia, he wrote a letter to his friend, explaining his calling.

“I feel that God is leading me to Bolivia where the poorest of the poor are living. It is my desire and my only desire to live amongst the poor, to pray for them, to be with them in their poverty, to lift up Christ for them in their spiritual poverty and to learn what it means to be totally dependent on Jesus for my own.” (from Amistad, Stories of Service through Friendship by Valerie Henry).

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 (Hebrews 4:15,16, ESV).”

Jesus left the riches of Heaven to give us all access to the throne of grace.  When John the Baptist identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29),” I wonder if anyone in the crowd remembered Isaiah 53, the prophecy of the Messiah as the ultimate and final guilt offering.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:6, ESV

“For thus says the LORD GOD: ‘Behold, I, I Myself will search for My sheep and will seek them out. (Ezekiel 34:11, ESV).” 

Jesus reminds us of the above prophecy in Ezekiel when He declares, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, ESV)” And again when He told Zacchaeus, “’For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (see Luke 19:10).’” 

Wow. When God promised that He Himself would come and seek out the lost sheep, He meant it. God came to earth and did the job Himself!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…..And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:1, 14, ESV

God’s free gift of grace was delivered personally through Jesus Christ.  He left the riches of heaven to dwell among us (poor in every way without Him) and to become the final guilt offering.

Praise God for fulfilling His promise to His people, and delivering it personally, through Jesus Christ, His Son!

“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” II Corinthians 9:15, ESV

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