Hello Church Devotion Sept. 09, 2013

“I” for “Iniquity”

An iniquity is a gross injustice or wickedness. It is also known as a violation of right or duty; a wicked act; in Biblical words, a sin. Iniquity is the absence of moral or spiritual values. It is a condition of disrepair. It is disgusting wickedness and immorality that is deserving of severe punishment.

It sounds pretty bad and worth damning doesn’t it? An iniquity looks to be a stupendous act of sordidness. Something that God certainly does not like, right?

And certainly an iniquity is not something that we as children of God would be actively involved in doing! I mean, after all, we are not apt to make a mistake of gross injustice or overwhelming immorality, are we? The Hebrew word avone, translated as “Iniquity” refers to how our heart including temperament, disposition, inclination, and loyalties fall short of God’s standards.

Hebrew has several other words for sin beyond khata, each with its own specific meaning. The word pesha, or "trespass", means a sin done out of rebelliousness. The word aveira means "transgression". And the word avone, or "iniquity", means a sin done out of moral failing. The word most commonly translated simply as "sin", khata, literally means "to go astray." Just as Jewish law, halakha provides the proper "way" (or path) to live, sin involves straying from that path.

When we think of “iniquity”, we are often reminded of the fire and brimstone of Sodom and Gomorrah. For great was the iniquity of those cities. But it is important also, to remember that we are also people who commit iniquities that are a foul odor in the sight of God.

Remember our confession of sins from the 1941 Lutheran Hymnal?

O Almighty God, merciful Father, I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended you and justly deserved your punishment now and forever. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray you of your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.

We are miserable sinners. We are lost in our stubbornness to do it our own way, rather than to go the way God designed for us to go. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and you offenses have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.”

Our sins and iniquities get in the way of our relationship with God. So God sent His only Son to atone for our iniquities. Hear again from Isaiah: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

Jeremiah also notes: ‘For they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their offense I will remember no more.”

In Jesus, God has poured out His just wrath of punishment for our iniquities. Jesus bore the pain, the separation, and the torment for our moral failings, for our stubborn focus on ourselves, and for our willful desire to do things our own way.

Today, let us be reminded of our own shortcomings in light of God’s perfect law and commands. And may we confess those shortcomings so as to receive God’s wonderful forgiveness, grace, and new life. You may want to use the following hymn words to guide your prayer this day.

Lutheran Service Book #608

1 Lord, to You I make confession:

I have sinned and gone astray,

I have multiplied transgression,

Chosen for myself my way.

Led by You to see my errors,

Lord, I tremble at Your terrors.

2 Yet, though conscience’ voice appall me,

Father, I will seek Your face;

Though Your child I dare not call me,

Yet receive me in Your grace.

Do not for my sins forsake me;

Let Your wrath not overtake me.

3 For Your Son has suffered for me,

Giv’n Himself to rescue me,

Died to save me and restore me,

Reconciled and set me free.

Jesus’ cross alone can vanquish

These dark fears and soothe this anguish.

4 Lord, on You I cast my burden—

Sink it in the deepest sea!

Let me know Your gracious pardon,

Cleanse me from iniquity.

Let Your Spirit leave me never;

Make me only Yours forever. Amen

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