WIPING LIFE’S SLATE AND STARTING OVER

WIPING LIFE’S SLATE AND STARTING OVER

Today marks the start of the new school year, where I come from. And despite being in education since 2005, one concept about school never fails to amaze me; the beginning of a school year marks a new beginning for each and every student.

I mean think about it, scores are reset. And in terms of content, everyone starts from the same point again. Sometimes even teachers change, and classmates change, so friendships and associations get reset and we all need to make new friends.

But the one quintessential reset that sets students apart from adults, is the wiping clean of the disciplinary slate and allowing the child to start over.

You know, when we were young, we didn’t really appreciate the gesture. So we got a few demerit points knocked off, big deal. It was not as if that was going to get us extra credit, or more allowance from our parents.

But as we get older, and the more our mistakes start to rack up and come back to haunt us, we long for that opportunity to reset our lives again, don’t we? Wipe clean, reset and start over.

For some of us, we may be living with the physical consequences of our actions. For some of us, the effects may not be as apparent, but we are no less vexed in our hearts and minds. But no matter how or why our skeletons pop out of our closet every once in a while, we long for a reset, a new beginning, a chance to leave it all behind.

You know what, beloved child of God, you have already had that reset, the moment you accepted Christ as your savior; for

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,…” Romans 8:1

That’s our clean slate, isn’t it? Think about it, those who are in Christ have no condemnation. No conditions, no questions asked. If you are in Christ, when you are in Christ, there is no condemnation for you, no matter what you have done, or not done. And because of that, you

“…do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

You are no longer guided solely by your weak and wonton flesh, not that it’s no longer there, just that it’s no longer the only influencing factor in your life. Now, you have the Spirit, one third of our triune God, walking with you, talking with you, leading you and guiding you. For indeed, beloved, remember that this is what the Spirit does;

“…He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26 [AMPC]

Yes, He, the Spirit, will teach you when you are ignorant, counsel you when you are confused, and enlighten you when you have been hoodwinked, and remind you of all the things that Jesus has told you when you forget.

So when you are walking according to the Spirit, you’ve got help, beloved. You are not alone.

Contemporary culture likes to portray this truth by depicting an angel and a devil on opposite sides of your shoulder. And I guess, for want of a better illustration, it is rather accurate. You still have your carnal basal urges, your desires that make you want to do things you shouldn’t, those are still there and they are still real. But you also have the guiding light, the voice of reason, the Spirit, to, quite literally, keep you from yourself. And Paul himself, couldn’t have described our emotions any better.

“…What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise….” Romans 7:14-16

So true, isn’t it? And here is the rub.

How many times have we heard our children say, ‘I’ll never do it again’? But do they really never ‘do it’ again? They don’t, do they? In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar that before long, you’ll be saying to them, ‘I thought you said you’ll never do it again?’

But that’s the beauty of our salvation in Christ. Like the child who ‘does it again’, we very often sin again, and again, and again. And like the child who gets his disciplinary record reset at the beginning of the year, we get our disciplinary record reset the moment we accepted Christ.

But unlike the child who only gets his reprieve once a year, we get forgiven the moment we slip, each and every time we slip. For remember,

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

You see, when Christ died, He didn’t just take the punishment for your sins right up to the point when you accepted Him, He took the punishment for all your sins;

“For indeed Christ died for sins once for all, the Just and Righteous for the unjust and unrighteous [the Innocent for the guilty] so that He might bring us to God” 1 Peter 3:18 [AMP]

Christ died once, for all. Yes, beloved, all. For all who would believe, and for each and every one of their sins, so that now we can be with God. And what does it mean to be brought to God? It means this.

“For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness].” 2 Corinthians 5:21 [AMPC]

Jesus took all that was bad and evil about us and gave us all that is good, so that now, we are approved and acceptable and in right relationship with God. Now, that’s an altogether more comprehensive cleaning of our slates, wouldn’t you say?

So, knowing that, how should we live then?

“…we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 [AMPC]

You know, nowhere in the Bible does it ever tell us that after we accepted Christ, we must, should or are going to lead perfect lives. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the moment we accepted Christ, our actions, our demeanors, our thoughts, they all become perfect and sinless. Because just like expecting the child who gets his disciplinary record reset to henceforth live the perfect life, is really not the point, is it?

We give our children second chances in the hope that they will learn what not to do, not to give ourselves a valid excuse to hammer them the next time they falter. So

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

If you are kind to your children, how much kinder will our Father be to you? If you have only the best intentions for your children, how much more does this promise mean for you?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sure, you are going to fall, but remember,

“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 [AMPC]

You may look like the old you on the outside, you may even occasionally walk and talk like the old you. But one fundamental thing has changed; your slate has been wiped clean.

And because of this, even if you are feeling the physical and psychological consequences of your decisions, remember

“…we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 [AMPC]

You know, when Jesus was faced with the woman caught in adultery, He didn’t give her a long speech about morals. He didn’t even give her marriage counselling. And He sure didn’t give her a lecture on how and why she should lead a moral life. All that transpired in that conversation was this.

“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”” John 8:10-11

What would give the woman the power to stop sinning? A counselling series with Adulterers Anonymous? No. He made her see that no one was condemning her, not even Him, the perfect Son of God. And that is what would give her, and us, the power to stop sinning ever again.

So beloved, if you are facing your sin in the mirror; if you are battling with habits and addictions; if you are feeling weak, knowing that you want to do good but you seem to always end up doing bad, then there is only one thing for you to do.

Because you have already put your faith in Christ, know that you have been forgiven, know that your slate has been wiped clean, know that your Father in Heaven does not condemn you, and know that you are therefore in right relationship with Him.

Then go and sin no more.

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