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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Benefits (Benefit #1)

I've got a printed out copy of Psalm 103 that I recently posted on the white board next to where I work. The reason is because it talks about "benefits". A month or two ago, if you work for a company like I work for, you probably got to hear the "benefits" talk. This is the talk about how to sign up for insurance, 401(k), whatever stuff your employer makes available to you. In order to take advantage of that stuff, typically you have to take steps to sign up. Psalm 103:2 says "..forget not all his [God's!] benefits." I was like, wait, God has benefits? This I need to look at! Seems like I might want to sign up!

Here's God's list of benefits from that chapter (no 401(k) plan here, sorry!)

  1. forgiveness for iniquity
  2. healing for diseases
  3. redemption from "the pit"
  4. being crowned with "steadfast love and mercy"
  5. being satisfied with "good" - specifically good health

God forgives all your iniquity

So, "forgiveness" seems pretty self-explanatory (we'll get back to it in a minute), but I'm not sure everyone knows what "iniquity" is. You may think, as I did and I'm sure most people do, that "iniquity" is just a longer word that means "sin", but it's not, not exactly. "Sin" is when you mess up and do something wrong -  you were presented with a situation and you made the wrong choice. "Iniquity", however, is the thing inside of you that caused you to make that choice. The Bible talks about the "flesh" meaning that before we gave our hearts to Jesus, we were messed up and couldn't get to God, and sometimes we still act like that. Think of the sin as the action itself, and the iniquity is the thing that clicked inside and caused the action to be taken. Notice it doesn't say "iniquities" like there are multiple things–it's one "iniquity" that causes the whole problem.

Let's go back to "forgiveness" now. Let's say my wife didn't know it was my special cookie sitting on the counter, and she wanted a cookie so in all innocence she ate it. I found out and got mad, but then I realized it was a mistake and I said, "I forgive you."

That's NOT what this forgiveness is.

This "forgiveness" is more along the lines of pardon for a crime. In fact, in a lot of verses the same word is translated into some variation of the word "pardon". So let's put that together. God doesn't just say "I forgive you" when we sin. God's first benefit is that He has granted us a full pardon for the actual sinful nature which we were born with and to which we sometimes still succumb. He has pardoned all of it! Keep the dental plan, I'll take that benefit, please!

On to Benefit #2!

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