Sin, Forgiveness, and Mystery

“The Lord will make good his purpose for me” (Psalm 138:9)

Sin involves all of us, as “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin turns us away from God and from our true selves, leaving us less able to answer God’s call and to serve. Sin obstructs our vision, and clouds our judgment. We get used to our sins, which become patterns and habits of behavior. But God’s presence in our lives can help us to wake up to the reality of our situation, and see how we need to change.

When Isaiah sees the vision of divine glory, his first response is to say, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips … ” (Isaiah 6:5). And when Simon Peter sees the amazing catch of fish after Jesus’ command for the fishermen to let down their nets for a catch, he falls down at Jesus’ knees and says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Isaiah and Peter see themselves clearly in God’s presence.

God’s glory is manifested in many ways throughout the scriptures — a vision, a star, a miraculous healing, even an incredible catch of fish after a night of wasted effort. In all these epiphanies, God’s presence is revealed in a way that changes lives and points to faith. Our exaltation is found in God, not in our isolated selves, and facing our limitations and failures is a first step for transformation. As we draw closer to God and share the divine glory more completely, we become increasingly aware of our need for God’s love and forgiveness.

In the collect we ask God to set us free from the bondage of our sins and to give us “the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ” (BCP, p. 216). As we open our hearts to change, we can be transformed and renewed by the glory of God in us.

Forgiveness is not the only gift God offers us. He will make good his purpose for us (Psalm 138:9). God’s love endures forever, and he will not abandon us. After Isaiah’s guilt is cleansed, the Lord asks, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And Isaiah responds in faith, “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). God sends Isaiah to serve after he is forgiven, so that God’s purpose for Isaiah will be fulfilled.

In a similar way, Jesus does not turn away after Peter humbles himself and admits that he is a sinful man. Instead, Jesus gives him a new vocation in faith, so that “from now on you will be catching people.” Peter’s new mission is to share God’s glory in the world, and many will share the transformed life that Peter has come to know in Christ. We can also know the divine glory as we receive God’s forgiveness and fulfill God’s purposes for us in the world .

Look it Up

In the Baptismal Covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305), the people promise that with God’s help they will persevere in resisting evil, and they will repent and return to the Lord whenever they fall into sin.

Think About It

Have you ever experienced an epiphany? How has God’s glory been revealed to you? What difference did this make to you? Did it change the way you saw yourself or your community?


Online Archives