“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.”
There is a phrase that is often said in the bible. It comes in slightly different variations, but it’s basically the same message. God forgives our sin “for the sake of his name.” This is very interesting. Let’s look at a couple of examples:
Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 25:11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Psalm 31:3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
Ezekiel 20:44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”
Ezekiel 39:25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.
The list goes on an on. Once you start seeing this, you will see it all over. What does this mean? What is the significance of this phrase? It has to do with God’s intention on keeping his word. Starting with Abraham, God made a promise, and we will one day see that promise completely fulfilled.
Revelation 21:3, 7 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God….The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be their God and he will be my son.
Does this bring back memories of the Garden, when Adam and Eve no longer walked with God but hid from God? God then made a covenant with Abraham to make a great nation through him. We learn that this was eventually called Israel, although not everyone genetically born in this line was included in the nation. No, God has made a “remnant” of this line that he calls his people. Since this started, many people have assumed they were included, but they weren’t. It got even more complicated when non-Jews started to be included in the family and were called “children of God.”
Here’s the problem. How does one make the “cut” in all this? Most of the world thinks it’s in what we do that gains us favor. Over and over again, God says that we are rotten scoundrels and that he chooses based solely upon one thing: his promise. No one earns it. How many times has God wiped nearly the whole bunch out yet held back a few of those he hand-picked, his chosen remnant? A bunch. Plus, this hand-picking is going on as we speak and will continue on until the day it is all done.
I have no idea how God selects the remnant, other than the bible simply says he does. There are no clues as to what we can say or do that will change our status. Oh, sure, Romans 10 instructs us to call on the name of the Lord, but we see plenty of people who do this who aren’t chosen. It seems, therefore, that those who are saved indeed do call on His name, but that seems to be a reaction to God’s move rather than an initiative on our part. Plenty of people will argue about that, but then they need to come up with a reason for all this remnant business that makes sense. Suffice it to say, it is God who chooses us, and we respond. So, yes, I call on the name of the Lord and am saved. He saved; I called. Can we reverse that order? I don’t really see how.
Anyway, what are some implications to God’s acting for his own name’s sake? Well, he has made a bunch of promises to his remnant, all which seem to me are preparing us for that final day when we will all be with him. He promises to make us ready for the day Jesus gathers us. He grooms us, prunes us, protects us, and, yes, sometimes sacrifices us. We go through all sorts of trials and tribulations that serve God’s purpose and are for our benefit as we mature in our faith.
How can we cooperate with God in this? Can we pray in such a way as to move God to act “for the sake of his name”? I think so. We have many examples of prayer in which God’s promise is used. See Genesis 18, Exodus 32, and Joshua 7, for just a couple examples of prayer. Here’s the thing, when we really start to study this, we begin to see what God might desire for us. Maybe we can then pray for that.
For example. I’m having trouble getting back on track with eating healthily. Could I use this in my prayer?
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Now, this verse could be used for many things; but perhaps in my situation, I could pray something like this:
Father, I sin against you when I eat like a glutton. I prefer to honor you with my body and my appetite. Father, for your name’s sake, move me past this stumbling block, this stronghold. That is what I desire, to obey you. Perhaps part of my problem is that I have not delighted in you. Lord, change my spirit so that I will. Guide me so that I might see your hand in my coming and going. Let me see and know that you are near me, guiding me, encouraging me. Let me laugh with joy in your presence. I have a feeling that all these troubles will somehow then simply fade away. I am your child, Father. Show me what to do. Amen.
I don’t know, but I think God will hear that prayer.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers