A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

“Daddy, I think God must get very tired of my having to say ‘I’m sorry’ to Him so often,” I said impulsively one summer day when our family was vacationing with my parents.

You understand, I was already middle-aged, and my father in his 80’s when this conversation took place. I was a pastor’s wife, a Sunday School teacher, a mother, and I’d been a Christian for most of my life—you’d think by now my life would be under control. My father and mother were godly parents, very strict but very loving. They set high standards of conduct for us, and they lived what they taught. I had accepted their high standards of conduct for my own. It was frustrating not even to meet my own standards.

So when I expressed my frustration to Daddy, he quickly said, “Oh, no, Libby, I think God looks down on you with great tenderness. I think He is very pleased with you.”

God looks down on me with tenderness? He Is pleased with me? That holy God, who is the essence of goodness, overlooks my failures? “No,” I thought, “God can’t condone sin. That’s a paradox! It can’t be true.” But, oh, how I longed for it to be true!

(As you know, a paradox is a “seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true,” as the dictionary says.)
That conflict of ideas is why Hebrews 10:14 seemed to me like a paradox. It says:

By one sacrifice
He [Jesus] has made perfect forever
Those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14 niv

But “made perfect forever” simply doesn’t seem to fit in with “being made holy.” If I was “made perfect forever,” then why would I need “to be made holy”? The answer to this apparent paradox is found in the verse just before it. Hebrews 10:12 says:

“But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time
one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. . . .
Because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever
those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:12,14 niv

When I asked Jesus to forgive my sins, He did. He has paid the penalty for every one of my sins, all of them, past and future. So my record in Heaven is clear. Jesus gave me His righteousness. I “have been made perfect forever.” (I couldn’t, didn’t, do that; Jesus did it for me.)

But, as my friends would admit if you asked them, I still don’t always have myself under control. I’m often disappointed with my reactions. Hebrews 10:14 promises me that Jesus will continually guide me, help me; He will “make me holy.”

So, thank God, it’s not a paradox. His holiness and His forgiveness are not in conflict. Today we can rest in the assurance, when we’ve trusted Him, that His forgiveness is absolute, and He is committed to helping us, every day, to be more like Him in His holiness.