Don’t Fence Me In

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.                                                                                                                                         Psalm 36:1 ESV

Have mercy on me,O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.                                                                                                Psalm 51:1 ESV

“Transgression” is the third of the three most common Hebrew words for an offense against God. If “sin” is sometimes unintentional, transgression is always intentional. It is the expression of that attitude in us that, in the words of the old Western song, says, “I can’t stand fences!” It is the outworking of that spirit that Paul bemoans in Romans 7: “I didn’t want to do wrong until the law forbade it, then I just had to do it!” (vv. 9-11, paraphrase).

There is something in the human heart which is determined to deny any limits on its freedom. So when we are informed of a limit, there is nothing for it, but to go over it. Our loving, heavenly Father says, “Here is the way I designed you to live” and something is us, something stemming right back to Genesis 3, says, “I will determine what is right and wrong for me.” This is what the song-writer calls “the bent to sinning.” Others have called it “original sin.” Whatever you call it, it issues in transgression.

This is where the Cross comes to its greatest glory. Yes, the blood of Christ can cleanse us from all “sin” – all those times when we have, for whatever reason, missed God’s target for our living. Yes, the blood of Christ can wash away our iniquity, the reality of what we have done that has stained the garment of life right down into the warp and woof of the fabric. But what about our innate rebelliousness, our determination to have our own way, our refusal to accept God-created limits, something that seems “engraved with a diamond point on the tablet of [the] heart” (Jer 17:1)? Can the cross do anything about that? Oh, yes, it can! The blood of Jesus can “blot out our transgressions” and with it, God can create in us a clean heart. Believe him! He can do that in your life.

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