Scripture’s Beautiful Imagery of the Forgiveness of Sins (Watson)

One of the wonderful aspects of Holy Scripture is how it doesn’t just tell us truth in propositional form. It gives us metaphors, stories, imagery, and vivid examples of truth. Specifically, I’m thinking about the forgiveness of sins. The Bible plainly says that God forgives sins when we confess them to him (e.g. Ps. 32:5). But Scripture also describes the forgiveness of sins with pictures, images, and figures of speech that touch our hearts. Thomas Watson (d. 1686) listed some of these in his commentary on the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. If you’re a Christian who’s struggling with the reality that God forgives all of your sins through Christ, meditate on this list and let it assure you that all your sins are indeed washed away!

  • I) To forgive sin, is to take away iniquity. ‘Why dost thou not take away my iniquity?’ (Job 7:21). …It is a metaphor taken from a man that carries a heavy burden ready to sink him, and another comes, and lifts it off. So when the heavy burden of sin is on us, God in pardoning, lifts it off from the conscience, and lays it upon Christ: ‘He hath laid on him the iniquities of us all’ (Is. 53:6).
  • II) To forgive sin, is to cover sin. ‘Thou hast covered all their sin, (Ps. 32:1). This was typified by the mercy-seat covering the ark, to show God’s covering of sin through Christ. God doth not cover sin in the Antinomian sense, so as he sees it not, but he doth so cover it, as he will not impute it.
  • III) To forgive sin, is to blot it out. ‘I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions’ (Is. 43:25). The Hebrew word, to blot out, alludes to a creditor, who, when his debtor hath paid him, blots out the debt, and gives him an acquittance; so when God forgives sin, blots out the debt, He draws the red lines of Christ’s blood over our sins, and so crosseth the debt-book.
  • IV) To forgive sin, is for God to scatter our sins as a cloud. ‘I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions,’ (Is. 44:22). Sin is the cloud, an interposing cloud, which disperses, that the light of his countenance may break forth.
  • V) To forgive sin is for God to cast our sins into the depths of the sea. ‘Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea,” (Micah 7:19). This implies God’s burying them out of sight, that they shall not rise up in judgment against us. God will throw them in, not as cork that riseth again, but as lead that sinks to the bottom.”

Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer, p. 214-215.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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