by Robert Berendt
The word “blame” is defined in Chambers’ dictionary as “to find fault with, to censure, to impute fault, to charge with being cause of.” It follows that blameless means guiltless, innocent and without blame. We have a complicated justice system in our land that tries to fix blame for crimes committed. It would seem at times that most cases are clear cut and obvious, but ascertaining all the nuances and details of an event is not easy. Our court systems are prone to inaccuracy and error for a number of reasons, most are due to the fact that we are human and errors in memory, gathering information and assessing the findings happen from time to time.
There is one judge and one court before whom we all must appear. He has all of the facts about us down to the tiniest detail and idle word (Matthew 12:36). He does not make a mistake in judgment or fixing blame (Revelation 16:7). Some of us can think back more than fifty years, but we cannot recall idle words. Needless to say, we all know that we have been at fault in the past, maybe in the present and could be in the future. How then can we possibly stand before our Creator on judgment day and know with confidence that He will consider us blameless?
There are many scriptures that speak about blame, on breaking the laws and commandments of God. There are also thoughts we wrestle with that rob us of the ability to come before His throne boldly. We are told that we have a High Priest in whom we can have confidence because He was tempted in all things as we are and through Him we can come to the throne of grace to obtain help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). One problem that assails we humans, is that even when we are forgiven for something we have done, our mind is not able to totally erase it and we are reminded of actions by our conscience or the outward effect of what we may have done. Part of our dilemma lies in not fully understanding the tremendous mercy of God and the manner in which our sins have been laid aside or forgiven. It is simply hard to believe God is so merciful.
One favorite character in the Bible is King David. We are told he was chosen by God in his youth and had a strong relationship with God. We also know that David made a number of mistakes and sins that may exceed anything we have done in life. He committed adultery, murder, managed self-deception and did rash things from time to time in disobedience to God. How could such a man consider himself blameless? David wrote one of the most poignant and powerful prayers of repentance in Psalm 51 and was then able to get up from his knees and walk into the temple to worship God with a clear conscience. The account was recorded in Scripture for our understanding. David had blinded his own eyes to his sin, but when God confronted him through Nathan, David saw himself and condemned his own actions. Nathan told David God had forgiven him and put away his sin, although there were ongoing results of those sins that did not go away. The account in 2 Samuel 12
reveals that David believed that God had set his sin aside and though he prayed and fasted in hope that the child that resulted from adultery would live, the baby died and King David rose from his knees, cleaned himself up, put on new clothing and went into the tabernacle to worship God. David believed that he was blameless before God at that moment. Without being self-righteous he wrote a Psalm in which he expressed his confidence. He wrote that his prayer was not from lying lips and stated that God had tested his heart and tried him – and found nothing (Psalm 17:13). He said he had purposed that his mouth would not transgress. That is quite amazing considering what James wrote about how difficult it is to control our tongue (James 3:5-8). But David spoke with some confidence and we can ask how is that possible?
God said that Job was blameless when He offered Job to Satan for a test (Job 1:1,8). One of Job’s regular and no doubt daily tasks was to offer sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of any sin he (or his children) might have committed (Job 1:5). So it seems that Job could walk in a most difficult trial and feel blameless. That must have been the result of believing that his sins had been set aside. Nobody can say they are without sin (I John 1:8). That was Job’s constant prayer to God and direction of his actions in life – to become and remain blameless.
Being blameless does not mean that no sin had been committed or that no wrong has been done, it means that God has forgiven that sin and will not hold the person in judgment. People who lived before the time of Jesus Christ were considered blameless in God’s eyes if they sincerely acknowledged their sins when they repented and made a sacrifice for them. Servants like Abraham were told to go and be blameless (Genesis 17:1). The lifestyle of Abraham and no doubt all of the people of God was similar, an ongoing attempt to acknowledge sin, repent and worship God.
It is the willful and careless sin that God does not forgive (Hebrews 10:26). Through Christ’s sacrifice, the true and full forgiveness of God was made possible. When sin is set aside or forgiven, at that moment a person is blameless before God. Paul
addressed the saints by reminding them that they were to be holy and without blame before Him and that was due to the praise and glory of God who made repentant sinners acceptable in Jesus (Ephesians 1:37).
Everyone needs to have past sins forgiven. Paul always reminded those whom he served that they were now the temple of God, bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ and were to glorify God in body and spirit (I Corinthians 6:19,20). They were to flee sin and thus remain blameless in Christ. There is no doubt that all humans carry blame for sinning against God (I John 1:8-10). We need the sacrifice of Christ to be cleansed of sin. We stand before God with His permission and under His grace and we are expected to stop sinning. John wrote that we are to keep His commandments, but if we slip, we can immediately go to Jesus Christ our Advocate and that sin is forgiven (I John 2:16). This is not permission to go and sin – no indulgences here. It is mercy and love from God who knows it takes time, effort and often tears for humans to overcome their sinful thought patterns and replace them with the nature of God. We are left with inner habits to overcome so we can remain blameless (Revelation 3:18-22).
Robert Berendt is a pastor with United Church of God, who lives in Canada and loves to write about his experiences and how God works in our lives.