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And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:14~16)
People Who Follow a Mirage
If we simply believe and accept the Word of God as we live our spiritual lives, it would be so blessed. But as we live with our thoughts, this does not happen. God gave people the ability to think. Satan has put in us thoughts that are different from God’s thoughts and God’s Word, which often cause our heart to flow in a direction opposite of God no matter how clear the promise of God. For example, God promised Abraham, “I will give you children like the stars of the sky and like the sands of the sea.” But Abraham and his wife continued to age, and Sarah aged far beyond her childbearing years. Since having a child became humanly impossible, Abraham began to think, “Will I not have a son? I probably won’t,” and his thoughts began to differ from the Word of God.
When they see a mirage, people who travel through the desert ask their guides, “That’s a mirage, isn’t it? We shouldn’t go there, should we?” The guide then answers, “Yes. That is definitely a mirage. You should not follow after a mirage.” But after walking for a long while, they become exhausted, and if there is no oasis, although they know it is a mirage, they begin to think, “Maybe that really is an oasis. Maybe the guide is leading us in the wrong direction.” Then they ask the guide again, “I know I should not be saying this, but that is a mirage, right? But what if it really is an oasis? Guide, you are capable of mistakes, too.” This is how their hearts change. At last, when they cannot endure the pain, they say to the guide, “You! You are trying to kill us, aren’t you? We’ve been walking forever, but there is no oasis! That over there is a real oasis!” and they kill the guide trying to go after the mirage. There are people like this from time to time.
It is not only this way with the people who travel through the desert, but such a thing happens in the realm of spiritual life as well. People are led by their thoughts because they begin to think. This is where Satan works. Satan does not simply inject us with thoughts, but stirs the heart in us to make us feel that things are as we think them to be, and continually leads us to the side opposite the Word of God. What God has said to us is definite, but it seems wrong in our eyes, and Satan works in us to make us feel that our thoughts are right.
The Cloud and the Rainbow, the Two Complete Opposites
God promised Noah, “I will never again judge the world with water.” One day, I thought about Noah. It says in the Bible that one day Noah’s sons saw him drunk from wine and sleeping naked in the tent. It was a good thing his sons were the ones who saw him, because what if it were his daughters-in-law who saw him? Noah was saved, but he got drunk, made mistakes, and mistakes can lead to sin. There is no one who would look at his own heart and say, “I am proper and clean.” When they see themselves through their conscience, they naturally feel in their heart, “I did wrong, evil, and committed sin.” When dark clouds would cover the sky at such a time, how would Noah feel in his heart?
“God must be sending another flood! We knew beforehand of the last flood, but others did not. Maybe this time God told others about the flood without telling me because I had sinned!”
Such fear arises in people because people sin. Thus, God spoke to Noah.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you, and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:12-15)
God said that he would never again judge the world with water, and the rainbow was the mark to prove it.
The interesting thing about these scriptures is that the clouds and rainbow show completely opposite traits. Clouds appear to cover the world with the rain of judgment, while the rainbow is the promise of God that He will not punish. Anyone can simultaneously see the cloud and the rainbow. A rainbow can never appear on a clear, sunny day with a spotless sky. The rainbow appears where it is cloudy. Noah would fear upon seeing the clouds, but the rainbow would bring him faith. “Ah, that cloud! That’s the same cloud from the flood.” He would have such fear, but upon seeing the rainbow, he would be at peace, thinking, “Ah, that rainbow! That is the promise that God will never again destroy the world with water.”
In the End, Is It Sin or Salvation that Remains?
In our spiritual lives, we, too, can see the dark cloud as well as the rainbow. When we look at ourselves, we are truly dirty sinners. But just as the rainbow stands amidst the clouds, God showed us the covenant of the blood of Christ amidst our filthy and sinful lives — the covenant of the cross! God is showing us the promise that the blood Jesus shed on the cross washed our sins away.
People see both, but the reason many people today do not have the assurance of the forgiveness of sin is this: There is almost no one who does not know that Jesus died on the cross and forgave all of our sins. There are crosses hanging in every chapel, and people say, “The cross is the place where the Lord was crucified for my sin.” It is right that we do not have sin, but when we look at ourselves, our conscience does not dare allow us to say that we do not have sin. “I fought, I stole, I lived adulterously, and I hated other people. I have lied and done such things. How could I have no sins?” Our hearts change according to which one of the two we look to.
I really like the words of Romans chapter 3, verses 23 and 24.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
We have committed sins.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24)
Jesus saved us from sin! Then what remains? Is it sin or salvation? It is salvation! People do not think about the blood of Jesus, but listen to the voice of their conscience and thus they cannot say that they do not have sin. They say, “How can I commit these sins and say that I have no sin?”
Perhaps Noah would see the clouds filling the sky and feel in his heart, “Those clouds! They are exactly like the clouds that came out right before the flood. These clouds might bring another flood. I sinned recently.” However, God prepared the rainbow for Noah. “That rainbow! God said that He would not judge the world with water ever again when He sees the rainbow.” Upon seeing both the clouds and the rainbow, what conclusion should he arrive at? Saying, “There will be no judgment. We are safe!” is the normal conclusion.
This is exactly the same way we should see salvation. In Romans chapter 3, it says that all have sinned, but Jesus has cleansed all sin. It says that we have been justified.
This is like the story of the prodigal son. The prodigal son left his father’s house, lived riotously, wasted all his money, lived a filthy, stinking life as a pig herder, and finally returned to his father’s house in that state. What did his father do? He said, “Put the best robe on him.” Then the servants rushed out, brought out the best robe, took the prodigal son to the bath tub, washed him clean, and put the clothes they had prepared on him. Then they put shoes on his feet, a ring on his hand, and led the prodigal son before the elaborately prepared dinner table. The younger son came back in a pitiful state, but his father made him whole. Would there be filthy or dirty aspects remaining in the younger son? No. The prodigal son had been made clean, glorious, and beautiful.
The words Jesus spoke to us are a parable. It has accurately displayed the heart God has toward us. We, like the prodigal son, refuse God and do various evil things in order to go against God. Our souls have been defiled. We are dirty, stinking, evil people in front of God. But God washed our spirits clean with the blood of Jesus, put robes of righteousness on us, and put a ring on our fingers that identifies us as the children of God. You may remember the sins you committed, but you have already been made holy in God’s eyes. God has made us whole so that we would lack nothing in taking a seat at the feast of heaven.
Thy Sins Be Forgiven Thee
Now, everyone, start a fight in your heart. Put the heart, “I am a sinner because I sinned,” against the heart, “Jesus cleansed me so that I lack nothing in standing before God.” What conclusion do you arrive at? Are we dirty or whole? We are dirty in our own eyes, but we are not dirty in the eyes of God. Jesus has already made us holy. The conclusion is that we do not have any sin remaining, but we are holy and righteous. Our sins have been washed as white as snow. Believing this is spiritual life.
Noah and his family could either fall into fear upon seeing the clouds or rejoice upon seeing the rainbow and believing in the promise of God. Although the rainbow is there as well, if they only see the cloud and say, “We sinned again, and God may punish us again. There might be another flood,” and have no faith, they will fall into fear. However, if they say, “Yes, we have sinned, but that rainbow is the mark that tells us that God will not punish us. We are safe,” and have faith, they will be at peace.
Jesus was crucified. It is not that He did not wash our sins away. He not only washed our sins of the past like some people say; He washed all our sins, past, present, and future, whiter than snow, perfectly. When you sin, you cannot help being pricked by your conscience. But that does not mean that sin remains. You may remember your sin and feel pricked by your conscience, but in reality, that sin has been washed as white as snow.
Although I had gone to church for a long time, and although I had said that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, I could not believe that my sins were washed away. Thus, I always thought that I was an evil sinner and I feared that I would go to hell. But one day, I came to believe that my sins were washed away.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)
God, the righteous judge, called us righteous. He said that we are not guilty. If so, regardless of how you see it, and regardless of what evil you have committed, you are innocent. I just believed this fact.
I was once reading the book of Mark. Some people brought a man sick with palsy to Jesus in chapter 2. But there were too many people there, so they could not reach Jesus. They then tore open the roof and lowered the bed on which the man with the palsy lay before Jesus. Jesus spoke to the paralytic. “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” I read that story many times, but the Holy Spirit worked in my heart that day. “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” These words were not only spoken by Jesus to the paralytic, but I realized that these words applied to me as well.
That’s right. The words of the Bible are not limited to special people, but were recorded for all mankind. Thus, Jesus is telling me, “Pastor Ock Soo Park, thy sins be forgiven thee.” If the Lord said so, then is the forgiveness of sin not also mine? That is why I do not pray to have my sins forgiven. It is because I believe that the blood Jesus already shed on the cross has forgiven my sins. I committed many sins before God, but the wages for those sins were already paid on the cross. Thus, the Bible says that I am righteous. God’s words saying that man is righteous apply to all people. God saw man, who had sinned, and called him righteous.
Where Do You Stand of the Two?
We can hear two voices. We can see the clouds and tremble in fear of another flood or we can see the rainbow and believe that the judgment is over and be joyful and thankful. Upon which of the two do you stand? If Noah has the faith to assuredly believe in the promise of God, he will be thankful every time he sees the rainbow. He will say, “God is showing me the rainbow to comfort a dirty, filthy, sinful person like me!” and live securely, giving thanks before God. This is the life of faith.
Today, all of you have two opposing factors in your heart. One is seeing the blood Jesus shed on the cross and being thankful to the Lord, who died for your sins. The other is seeing yourself and seeing how filthy and dirty you are. Now, we must pin these two against each other. Which one wins? It is true that you are an evil person who has sinned, but you are not a sinner if Jesus forgave those sins on the cross! Then fear ends, while thankfulness and joy overflows. If Jesus could not forgive your sins by dying on the cross, you can only be destroyed.
Loving folks, Satan always works when God is at work, and God also works when Satan is at work. Satan puts fear in your heart and you think, “I still have so many sins. I have committed these sins. How can I say that I do not have sin?” He does this in order to drag you into having a guilty conscience. He keeps you from believing in the cross. Everyone, do not be deceived by Satan, but believe in your heart the fact that the blood Jesus shed has washed you as white as snow forever. Because we sin every day, Jesus redeemed our sins eternally on the cross.
The Bible says, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) God says that He no longer remembers our sins. It records that all our sins have been washed away. Then you cannot be a sinner. Do not seek a sign that says your sins have been washed clean, but believe in the fact that your sins have been forgiven. With the faith, “The Lord forgave all of my sins on the cross!” I hope that you will go boldly before God.
Believe in the Cross!
When the prodigal son returned to his father, his father completely cleansed him so that not a single spot of filth remained on him. That is how much God has purified us. I accepted this into my heart by faith. From then on, Jesus began to amazingly work within me with power. I became one with Jesus in my heart from that moment on. Before, I denied that Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sins. I did believe that Jesus died on the cross, but I believed that my sins still remained. I had denied the power of the cross. After accepting into my heart that my sins were washed away, Jesus began to work with power in my heart. The Holy Spirit guided me no matter what it was I faced. I cannot say in words how joyful and blessed it was to walk with the Lord.
Loving folks, believe in the cross of the Lord! Value the Word of the Lord more than the sounds of your conscience! The death of Jesus on the cross was in no way in vain. That death lacked absolutely nothing in forgiving our sins. It was more than enough to forgive our sins. That is why, strengthened by the cross, we can always boldly go before God.
The cloud and the rainbow: These two paths are always before us. Satan makes us distrust the Word of God. He makes us say, “Jesus was crucified, but I am still a sinner.” However, the Word of God tells us that our sins have been washed as white as snow and that we have been cleansed.
Which will you believe: your thoughts, or the Word of God? When you believe the Word of God and stand upon faith, you will become one with the Holy Spirit and receive the true blessing of walking with the Lord.