Summary: A new years sermon that focuses on leaving your sins in the past and rejoicing in God’s forgiveness
Begin the New Year in the Joy of Forgiveness
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ Jesus:
In "A Christmas Carol", Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who against his will, takes him back to a time when he was still a young man. Scrooge sees himself proposing to the woman he loved, a woman who later breaks their engagement because she realizes that he has come to love money more than her. As Scrooge watches the scene unfold, we can see the emotions playing out over his face. We can imagine what is going through his mind: What a fool he had been! How his life would have been different if he had married, if his heart hadn’t been hardened by the love of money. Perhaps that young man wouldn’t have become this wretched, bitter old miser.
Well, consider this: How would you like to be visited by the ghost of your past? How would you like to go back and relive your sins, your mistakes, the foolish choices that changed your life? How would you like to be forced to watch helplessly, knowing what the outcome is going to be, unable to do anything to change the result, feeling the sharp pain of regret at not having taken the other path, or at least wondering what would have happened had your choices been different. Well, for most people, there’s really no need for a nighttime visit from one of Charles Dickens’ three spirits. Because we do it ourselves. We replay the past, again and again. We see it projected on the screen of our minds and we say if only I knew then what I know now. But the past is just that – the past. It can not be changed and we have to live with the choices and circumstances of our actions. But knowing this is not a reason for despair. As a matter of fact God tells that we can rejoice instead of despairing. As we begin the year 2002 and leave the sins, mistakes, and foolish choices of 2001 behind God comforts us with the message that we can Begin the New Year in the Joy of Forgiveness.
Psalm 32 was written by King David. He composed this psalm after he was called to repentance by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah the Hittite. David was hand picked by God to be King over Israel. And with God’s help he defeated all of his enemies. David was totally devoted to the God and there was nothing he could not accomplish because God was with him. But at the peak of his reign as king, David used his position and power to commit a most despicable sin and God tells us in the 2nd book of the prophet Samuel, “The thing David had done displeased the LORD.” David tried to hide his sin of adultery and murder for a year but he could not hide it from God. God did not want David to remain in his sin so he sent his prophet Nathan to call him to repentance.
But before God sent the prophet Nathan, the weight of David’s sin was heavy on his mind. David tells us, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” Even though he tried to hide his sin, David was suffering from a guilty conscience. He knew that what he had done placed a barrier between him and his lord and he regretted what he had done.
Like David, we all have sinned against God. We all have private sins which we try to hide. We think that no one knows about them but God knows. We have all done things that we are ashamed of, things that we think God would never forgive. But like David we can take those sins to the foot of the cross and leave them there. Like David we can turn to our loving and gracious God, repent, and God will forgive us. David said, “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
David invites us all to follow him in confessing our sins to God and receive the joy of forgiveness, to receive the peace and comfort which forgiveness brings. David encourages us to trust that God forgives us and removes all our guilt. God will do this because the punishment for our sin has already been carried out. Before the creation of the world God had already planned that Jesus would be the one to suffer for our sins. God would send his one and only Son to this world to be our substitute, to go to the cross and die for the sins of the world. Let me say that again! Jesus died for the sins of the world! All sins! There are no sins left unpunished for all who trust in what Jesus has done for us.