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Confession: Sins Like Ice

To your grace I give the credit, and to your mercy, that you’ve melted my sins like ice. And to your grace I impute it that I didn’t do other evil things, whatever they would have been.—Saint Augustine, Confessions 2.15

I love how Augustine compares our sin to ice. Although he believes sin to be part of our nature, he compares our individual sinful acts to something that is temporary. Our sins are like the evening frost, temporary and present only because of the darkness. Ice can freeze, numb, and slow a person; but the grace of God is like the rising sun, it melts our sin and enlightens us.

Referring to the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-27, Chad Bird states that in Scripture when God’s face shines upon us it is to enlighten our darkness, and when he “lifts up” his face toward us it is to look upon us with favor. This blessing brings Augustine’s same allusion to mind of the sun rising over the darkened soul to bring enlightenment, salvation, and peace. How can one not imagine God’s brilliance before us and not imagine the sun shining upon us?

Moreover, when Jesus was transfigured his face shone like the sun (Matt 17:2). And the Apostle Paul tells us “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6 ESV) In Christ, the face of God shines upon us like the sun.

Augustine goes on to say:

What is all this in reality? Who is there who can instruct me, unless it’s the one who shines a light in my heart and makes its shadows known? What else could have led my mind to inquire into and discuss and contemplate this matter? —Saint Augustine, Confessions 2.16

It is Christ who “because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:78-79 ESV) He shines in our darkness melting away our sin with instruction.

When you are in trouble, the Lord will remember your kindness and will help you; your sins will melt away like frost in warm sunshine.—Sirach 3:15 (GNT)

Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.

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