If you are in a room full of people, and 50 of them get gunned down by a person exercising his second amendment rights of dominion over the creation, but you escape and remain unharmed, do you suffer from “survivor’s guilt”? If babies die all around the world, but your baby is born healthy and well nourished, do you take credit for the success, or feel guilty about your “good fortune”?
President Barack Obama told Howard University’s class of 2016: “Yes, you’ve worked hard, but people who have been successful often don’t realize that God may have blessed them; it wasn’t nothing you did.”
George Will–Perhaps the most dangerous of today’s many pernicious ideas is that “life is more or less a lottery. That we are less masters of our fate than corks floating in a sea of luck.” I hope you will tune out anyone who, from this day on, tries to tell you that your achievements are not your own.
I am often told by sinners who hate the Biblical doctrine of election that they would reject their own election, even if it were true. How could they accept salvation on such terms, they ask, if one of their children or other loved ones was not elect? And the more self-righteous of these folks with “survivor’s guilt”, insist that, if there was such a thing as damnation, they would rather be damned also if even one other sinner is rejected by God and not elected by God to salvation.
The older I get, the more I remember my sins and I have many regrets. When I compare myself to other sinners, I more and more see how messed up my own life has been, how much of a failure, how much I have missed the mark, how much I have squandered my potential and poached off the good graces of other people. The older we get, the less “reversible” life feels. Sure, retirement means we don’t have to keep going in the same old direction that we regret, but the more focused I get on the fact that this could be my last day before the Resurrection, the less I see life as a wide variety of “refundable options”.
But what I cannot yet forget, God can and does forget. God does not (and never had) mercy for many sinners, but that is no reason for me to be anything other than grateful and rejoicing that God does not remember my sins. As I continue to sin, God continues to forgive my sin.
Romans 6:11 So you also must impute yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The first command in Romans tells Christians to count themselves dead to sin, to “reckon yourselves” dead to sin.
It’s important to not forget that imperative. But it’s even more important to remember that we don’t make the indicative come true by obeying the imperative. The justified elect do not become dead to sin because they count themselves dead to sin. Nor do the justified elect become dead to sin because they are daily dying to sin.
On the contrary, the justified elect are commanded to count themselves dead to sin because Christ has died for them as their representative and substitute. Christs died for the elect so that they ARE dead to sin, as soon as they are legally “baptized into” the one death of Christ.
Even if we cannot forget our sins, God can and does forget our sins. Even though the righteousness of Christ’s death was obtained in time and is imputed in time, that righteousness is permanent and God imputed that righteousness to Abraham and to David.
Romans 4: Abraham believed God, and righteousness was credited to Abraham.
4 Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be justified, Righteousness is credited. 6 Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the man God credits righteousness to apart from works:
7 How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven
and whose sins are covered!
8 How joyful is the man
the Lord will never charge with sin! (Psalm 32)
Psalm 103: For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him
the law says
1. when we sin we think we are hiding from God, behind God’s back
2. when we don’t confess our sin, we still think we are hiding from God, in the darkness we love, instead of the light
the gospel says
1. there is the God who hides Himself
Isaiah 45: 15 Truly You are God, who hide Yourself,
O God of Israel, the Savior!
16 They shall be ashamed
And also disgraced, all of them;
They shall go in confusion together,
Who are makers of idols.
17 But Israel shall be saved by the Lord
With an everlasting salvation;
You shall not be ashamed or disgraced
Forever and ever.
2. this God shows up in time and place
a. between the cherubim
b. in the incarnate High Priest on earth at the cross
3. this God who hides the sins of the justified elect behind His back
Isaiah 38: 17 Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered me from the pit of corruption,
FOR YOU HAVE PUT ALL MY SINS BEHIND YOUR BACK
18 For Sheol cannot thank You,
Death cannot praise You;
Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.
19 The living, the living man, he shall praise You,
As I DO PRAISE YOU this day
the “survivor’s guilt” of the elect, mercy for me and not for some other sinners
Isaiah 43: 25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins
Hebrews 8: 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[ I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 10: 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; because the Spirit said before, 6 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds,“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.
Job 14: 10–But man dies and is laid away;
Indeed he breathes his last
And where is he?
11 As water disappears from the sea,
And a river becomes parched and dries up,
12 So man lies down and does not rise.
Till the heavens are no more,
They will not awake
Nor be roused from their sleep.
13 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,
That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.
15 You shall call, and I will answer You;
You shall desire the work of Your hands.
16 For now You number my steps,
But do not watch over my sin.
17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And You cover my iniquity.