Guiltless Joy

I was reading Zechariah 3 the other day and I was struck by this beautiful picture of guilt being removed from the high priest, Joshua (whose name means “Yahweh Saves”).

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel. So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then He said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the Angel of the Lord was standing nearby. (Zechariah 3:1–5, HCSB)

This message was given to Zechariah while the Jews were still in exile. The 70 year exile was a punishment earned, in part, by failures in the leadership, the priests in particular. God is showing the steadfast love that he has to offer by defending Joshua before Satan, removing his quilt, and blessing him. Later he promises that this purifying is not just for Joshua, but he will “remove the iniquity of this land in a single day” (3:9). God does this not because of the goodness of Joshua or the people but for his own glory.

I am quick to neglect the beauty of God’s redemption. And I am quick to remember the times that I have failed. The Bible shows us over and over that God has removed, cleaned, and forgotten our sins, and we must now live in joy over this blessed, unearned righteousness. We have to make these promises a part of who we are. Embrace Joy, because guilty is not who you are anymore.

Removed…

  • As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12, HCSB)
  • He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19, HCSB)
  • He touched my mouth with it and said: Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt is removed and your sin is atoned for. (Isaiah 6:7, HCSB)

Cleaned…

  • “Come, let us discuss this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, HCSB)
  • I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22, HCSB)
  • But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7, HCSB)
  • Then he told me: These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14, HCSB)

Forgotten…

  • Do not remember the sins of my youth or my acts of rebellion; in keeping with Your faithful love, remember me because of Your goodness, Lord. …  Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is great. (Psalm 25:7,11, HCSB)
  • It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25, HCSB)
  • “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them” —this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin. (Jeremiah 31:33–34, HCSB)

Unearned righteousness…

  • Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness. Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the man God credits righteousness to apart from works: (Romans 4:4–6, HCSB)
  • For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19, HCSB)
  • Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1, HCSB)
  • Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1, HCSB)
  • More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ —the righteousness from God based on faith. (Philippians 3:8–9, HCSB)
  • He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, HCSB)

I’ll end with this, my favorite scripture on freedom from guilt which comes from Micah. Here we see life before and after justification. Here we see the confidence we now have in Christ. Just like Joshua, the Enemy can no longer accuse us. We know the victory that comes through Jesus.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. Because I have sinned against Him, I must endure the Lord’s rage until He argues my case and establishes justice for me. He will bring me into the light; I will see His salvation. Then my enemy will see, and she will be covered with shame, the one who said to me, “Where is the Lord your God?” My eyes will look at her in triumph; at that time she will be trampled like mud in the streets. (Micah 7:8–10, HCSB)

Our salvation comes, not by accident, comes through another man named Joshua. He proved himself as our perfect high priest, perfect sacrifice, and perfect king. And the freedom that he gives is meant to be shared with those around us who are mired down by sin and guilt. Maybe they don’t even know to call it sin, but they know they don’t have joy. Please, do not keep this to yourself!