Is it really possible for God to forgive all our sins? And what am I supposed to do after that? The aftermath of one of Australia's most devastating disasters can teach us a great deal.
Trees flash past the window, as does the barbed wire fencing that lines both sides of the road. I’m on the Hume, the interstate highway that connects the cities of Melbourne and Sydney, and I’m driving up to Sydney with some family members to attend a conference.
My sister is sleeping next to me in the back seat of the station wagon; I’ve never been able to sleep well in cars, so I stare out the window at the Australian landscape, which is unusually lush and green for this time of the year – no doubt due to the deluge of rain that has poured down over Victoria in the last couple of weeks.
Lost all hope
Then the landscape changes – not gradually, but suddenly. The trees are black and bare, and the grass isn’t lush and green anymore. My parents are talking softly in the front of the car, but without listening to them I know what I am seeing: one of the areas which the Black Saturday bushfires devastated in February of 2009, in arguably the most savage bushfires Australia has ever experienced.
As I look at the charred countryside, I think of all the people out there in the world who have lost hope that life holds something worth having for them. Perhaps you are one of them. You’ve done something so bad that you don’t believe God could ever forgive you for it. Or maybe you have simply lived a life so deep in sin, that you can see no happiness or pleasure in your future beyond immediate gratification of your lusts. You don’t want this, but you feel there is no way out.
But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.
But as I look out the window of the car, I see something amazing. On many of these blackened, twisted and distorted trees, I can see green growth. It isn’t much, only in its beginning stages, but it’s growth nonetheless, creeping up the trunks and even along some of the branches.
A verse I have read a number of times pops into my head, Malachi 4:2.
“But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”
What a beautiful promise! The scars that sin has left you with can be healed. You can receive forgiveness if you are truly sorry for the things you have done and want to repent, which means that you don’t want to do those things anymore. It’s not all over because you took the wrong path once in life. Look at the trees that are sprouting leaves again - you can get a second chance too!
A whole new life to live
And that’s not all. Forgiveness for your old sins is a wonderful gift, but as with the beginnings of growth on the trees – it’s just the first step. Forgiveness puts you on the right path, but after that there is a whole new life to live. A couple of verses in Romans 6 explain this very clearly.
“Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (v. 12, 13)
This is a life where you don’t give in to sin when you are tempted. You break free from your old habits of irritation, impatience and impurity. You can follow Jesus: you fight against sin when you sense that you want to do something that you know is not right.
Instead of being controlled by your lusts, you can be rid of them and come to a life of peace, joy and fulfillment, where the future is not something to be dreaded, but rather something you can embrace with open arms. There is no higher calling than this!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
Learn more about overcoming sin.