Scarlet Letters

You have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 TLB

In Nathaniel Hawthorns’ classic, The Scarlet Letter, we read about a woman named Hester Prynne and of her sin of adultery that is exposed at the birth of her illegitimate child, Pearl. Her particular sin was self-evident by the child she carried in her arms, and it was made more evident by the scarlet letter “A” that she was forced to wear on her chest, a public display of her sin.

As the story continues we are introduced to Mr. Dimmsdale. Mr. Dimmsdale, the “sin-partner” to Hester Prynne, carried his own scarlet letter; one he branded onto his own chest. The deep torment of his sin eventually takes over his life causing such turmoil on his physical health that he is ultimately destroyed by his guilt.

It is so easy for us to look at another’s life and see their sin… but I wonder how many of us carry secret sins? Sins so deep and so secret that if exposed would completely destroy our lives; so deep and so secret that we have silently branded ourselves with our own scarlet letter. Sins that we truly believe can never be forgiven.

I have a now-deceased friend whom I had known for nearly 40 years that steadfastly believed that her sins were so deep, so horrific that God could never forgive her. There was nothing I could say, no scripture I could share, no prayer I could offer; nothing would break that sin-hold belief on her life. While no one knows what goes on in the mind of a person that is coming to the end of their life as to whether they make a death-bed confession, and I pray that my friend did so before her last breath.  Sadly I think she died unrepentant. It will be a glorious day if I am wrong and I meet her again in eternity!

So it makes we wonder… with so many scarlet letters available to all of us. Perhaps you are wearing one?

Adulterer, Alcoholic, Addict, Abandoned, Abortion, Accused, Angry, Ashamed, Batterer, Bitter, Boastful, Criticizer, Child Abuser, Cheat, Cruel, Complainer, Confused, Cult, Drug Addict, Deceiver, Defiler, Depression, Despair, Drinking, Egomaniac, Empty, Envious, Evil, Enticer, Failure, Faultfinder, Fear, Fighter, Gay, Gossip, Greedy, Grudge, Guilt, Homosexual, Hardhearted, Hatred, Incest, Immoral, Indifference, Insulting, Intimidator, Jezebel, Jailed, Jealous, Joyless, Judger, Killer, Lesbian, Liar, Lawless, Lustful, Murderer, Manipulator, Mean, Merciless, Malicious, Narcissist, Negative, Neglectful, Obsessed, Offensive, Oppressor, Pornographer, Pagan, Persecutor, Power-hungry, Prejudice, Prideful, Prostitute, Queer, Resenter, Rejection, Sex Addict, Satanic, Shame, Slanderer, Sloth, Stubbornness, Superior, Thief, Tempter, Threatener, Unclean, Ugly, Unbeliever, Unfaithful, Vengeful, Vain, Violent, Vulnerable, Verbal-Abuser, Whore, Worldly, Worthless,  Zealot

There is a suffocating darkness that envelops the soul of a sinner, darkness thick with doom and dread begins to suffocate. The heaviness of carrying the burden, whether visible or hidden, with self-loathing or outright mockery; the scorn of the sin eventually destroys the sinner. They come to the point where they truly believe there is no forgiveness for them; they are doomed to wear that letter forever.

Whatever the letter we chose to burn into our own chest, or one that society chooses to brand on us, know that we each can step out of the darkness in our soul and walk in forgiveness.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see the signs of mercy and forgiveness of our sins.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)

Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins. Acts 13:38 (NKJV)

to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. Acts 26:18 (NKJV)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 1 John 2:12 (NKJV)

More than two thousand years ago, God sent His Son to this earth as a man. God sent this man, Jesus, as a spotless lamb to be the final sacrifice for our sins. This wholly blameless man stood silent as He was mocked and scorned and beaten and bloodied for our sins. He gathered our sins in His hands and without a sound He laid down on that cross to be crucified for us. With each blow of the hammer onto the nails that would hold him to the cross, our sins were forgiven. He took our sins and our shame upon Himself that we may have forgiveness.

Jesus took those sins on Himself that we may be redeemed in Him, that we may be sanctified through Him, that we may be justified with Him, that we may know the forgiveness of our sins and be made new in Him from the Heavenly Throne of God.

God, who is infinite in His mercy, forgives our sins once and for all never to be remembered again.

Psalm 103:1-12 NIV

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

In Psalm 103 we learn that as far is the east from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. That is a sure promise from God. He also promises to forgives all our sins and redeem us from life from the pit. He will not accuse us; nor will He harbor anger towards us. He will not treat us as our sins deserve or nor will He repay us according to our iniquities.

So if God can and will do all that then why do so many in this world continue in a life defeated and under the spirit crushing weight of sin and self-loathing? I believe it is because we don’t believe that we deserve forgiveness. It is we, the sinner that chooses to continue to carry our sins as our scarlet letter worn either visible or burned into our flesh.

Perhaps it our refusal to accept God’s forgiveness, perhaps it is our lack of self-worth that we can’t accept God’s forgiveness. After all, how could God ever forgive me? Why would God ever forgive me? How could God forgive you? Because He is God. Because He wants that none shall perish. He wants all of His Children to spend eternity with Him. He wants to forgive you, but He will not force you, you must come to Him with contrite heart and humbly asking forgiveness. All He is waiting for is for you to take that first step towards Him.

So why would God forgive you? Because you are chosen by God Himself; you are holy and pure and He calls you His own. He will forgive your sins, because of His infinite love for you. He is calling you out of the darkness of your sin and self-loathing to walk in His light and His forgiveness. He wants to raise you out of the muck and mire that has enveloped your life. He wants you to walk as a blessed and redeemed child of the King. Now is your time to seek His face. So, if you must wear a letter, let it be Saved!

Scriptures marked NKJV are taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION (NKJV): Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION®. Copyright© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked NIV are taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV): Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan

Scriptures marked TLB are taken from the THE LIVING BIBLE (TLB): Scripture taken from THE LIVING BIBLE copyright© 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Graphics ©acuddysullivan2019

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