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Strike three! You're out!" Hearing the umpire's final call, the batter bowed his head, turned and slowly walked away from the plate.
In many ways, our battle with sin is similar to the battle of the young batter. We don't always do our best when it is time to step up to the plate, and we can be tempted to give up, as David was, "…my iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart fails me" (Psalms 40:12).
If God kept track of all our failures, all hope would be lost. David also voiced the despair and discouragement we can experience when we fail in our struggle against sin, "Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord…Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (Psalms 130:1-3).
At times we may feel like the worst of sinners, but we are not alone in our struggles. Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Fortunately God continually reassures us that, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19).
Unlike humans, God has an enormous capacity to forgive. If we trust in Him, and keep stepping up to the plate and hitting the ball, God will be there to strengthen us when we need it. He is willing to forgive us many times, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
But we must learn to recognize our part in the breaking of the eternal, spiritual law of God, as David did. "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight..." (Psalms 51:3-4). Only then, with a commitment to doing better, can we count on God’s forgiveness. "If My people…will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
God's complete forgiveness makes it possible for us to step up to the plate again after we have stumbled and missed the mark. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them who fear Him. For He knows our frame; that we are but dust" (Psalms 103:12-14).
We must strive to follow the Apostle Paul’s example and not give up: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is...the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
God has made it possible for us to continue this good fight by providing a Redeemer, one who paid the penalty of sin for us. Jesus Christ paid a dear price for the forgiveness He offers and we should thank God every day for it, while we long to hear the words: "...Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).
The Good News Magazine (March-April 1996)