But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.
— Acts 3:18-21,26
The first rule of carpet spills is that you blot out the stain before it spreads. You soak it out of the carpet, into a rag. We’ve become so accustomed to computers and printers, it’s easy to forget that we used to rely on similar techniques to fix our printed mistakes. One had to blot up the ink to remove the incorrect letter or word before writing over it with the correct characters.
God doesn’t make mistakes, but He does wield one righteous eraser. In Acts 3 Peter pleads with people to repent from their past lifestyle and turn to faith in God’s Messiah, Jesus. Some needed to repent from the sin of doubt. Some from the sin of coveting. Some lust. Some complacency. Some selfishness. Each of them, like each of us, had their own unique blend of sins and failures. Peter wasn’t concerned with the details of those various sins; he was concerned with the single alternative to them: Jesus. “Repent and be converted,” he encouraged them because once we’ve converted to Christ believers our sins may be blotted out. That highlights a reality that may escape people today: our sins are stains that never fade and never find forgiveness apart from us turning to Christ. People are not inherently good. We are not inherently all children of God. You won’t find that sentiment on a greeting card! Our cancel culture publicly condemns anyone who would dare to suggest that some people are anything less than children of God. We must be self-righteous to think such a thing! But the gospel isn’t the gospel at all unless we begin with the understanding that we need a Savior. We need to begin by recognizing that we cannot cancel the debt we owe. We cannot undo the slightest damage we have done. No amount of good intentions or good works can ever take away the stain upon our unrighteous souls.
But “what is impossible for man, is possible for God.” The righteous soul of Jesus soaks up the stains of sin for all who turn to Him. He blots out our sin by soaking it into Himself. And again contrary to popular opinion, the presence of the Lord is anything but refreshing to one who is guilty of sin. God is a righteous judge, and He will not pardon the guilty. But to those who confess their sins, He offers His own innocence and takes our guilt upon Himself. Then suddenly His presence becomes a place of refreshing, rejoicing and rebirth.
The Father sent Jesus to bless you, but to bless you how? With financial wealth? With an Audi in every garage and perfect health through every season? With popularity and fame and honor? Peter saw it differently. He said that God sent Jesus to bless you by turning you away from your sins. Jesus doesn’t merely forgive our sins, He sets us free of them. He turns us away from our old behaviors, our old sins against Him and against each other, and He puts us on the path of walking in His own footsteps, doing His righteous acts.
- For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:10
The gospel is the good news that through our relationship with Jesus we can become so much more than what we have been. We can be forgiven, innocent, holy, productive, useful to God, and a supernatural blessing to others. We can be as loving as Jesus, led step-by-step by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3 is not the fist time we read about God blotting something out. In Exodus we read about a conversation between God and Moses in which Moses advocates for God’s mercy to be shown to the nation of Israel.
- Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” —Exodus 32:31-33
God can blot out our sins or blot our names out of the the book of life—how amazing it is that we get to choose which it will be! How tragic it is for all those who don’t recognize the greatness of His love and the hope of His calling. Let’s not waste the opportunities we have to walk in His ways. Let’s be a light to those around us so they can exchange the sin-stained rags of life for the riches of being clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
This is one in a series of devotionals written to coincide with the Bible reading calendar we are using as a church. Join us by registering at https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/60.