Who Can Save Us? (Isaiah 43:25)
"I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." —Isaiah 43:25
How wonderful to know we are forgiven!
When we first read this verse, we are struck by the blessing it contains. And rightly so! Forgiveness is one of the sweetest gifts a Christian receives. It means a fresh start, a clean slate, and a clear conscience. We should commit this verse to memory to recall when plagued with guilt. Yet the contrast in this verse is just as important as the content. The verse draws attention not only to the forgiveness we receive but also to the unique character of the one who forgives.
Standing behind this verse is the whole of Isaiah 42:18-44:23. In this broader section, God makes two things clear: we cannot save ourselves, but God can. Like Israel, we fail in every attempt to save ourselves apart from Christ. We too worship blind idols and become blind. Even as Christians, don’t we sometimes set our affections on things that cannot save? We make gods of performance in sports or academics, financial or relational security, the next vacation, or the next new hobby to invest in, only to find that these cannot ease our guilty consciences.
But God, and only God, can. And when He steps in to save, He does so in a way that only he can. God says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions.” Only God can wipe away our sins. When we want to turn elsewhere He says, “I, I am He!” In Christ, God alone can wipe away all your sins—past, present, and future—at the same time.
Why does God do this? The verse tells us: “for my own sake.” If we don’t read carefully, we might assume that this verse says “for your sake.” Isn’t this how we would have written it? We might imagine that God saves us because He is compelled by love or pity for us. Yet if our salvation relies on our attractiveness, we are in trouble. Instead, God’s salvation focuses on Him, not us. God saves because it glorifies Him to save those He created.
When God redeems people who looked elsewhere for redeeming, it causes the watching world to do what they were made to do: glorify Him. This is the only salvation worth having. We know not only that God loves us in Christ, but also that He will always love us because He roots His promise in Himself.
As Christians who are called to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, we have to work to avoid keeping a record of wrongs. God is not like us. He says, “I will not remember your sins.” Our culture says, “We will never forgive your sins.” If it’s discovered that you stepped out of line at some point in the past, you’re “canceled,” with no hope for redemption. God has a better memory than we do. God is more just than we are. Yet only God forgives sins and then forgets them.
How wonderful it is to be forgiven. How much more wonderful is the One who forgives! Let us marvel at the uniqueness of God’s salvation in Christ.
What do you treasure most about being forgiven?
What are you tempted to turn to for salvation instead of God? How does God give you what that idol is powerless to give?
What comfort and joy do you find in knowing that God’s salvation is for His sake, not yours?
Greg Palys is a pastor at College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, primarily overseeing ministry to children and their families. He and Sarah have four children: Ruth, Ezekiel, James, and Eden.