Not In Part But the Whole

Sometimes it is the unexpected things that get you. Sometimes it is the words you have heard or said or sung a hundred times over that suddenly leap off the page—words like “My sin, not in part but the whole.” The words come, of course, from the much-loved hymn “It Is Well With My Soul,” a song that joyfully celebrates the freedom that is found in salvation.

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“Not in part but the whole.” Have you ever considered your life, your death, and your eternity if you had to face God with your sins only partially forgiven? Can you imagine singing, “My sin, not the whole but in part”?

Thankfully, wonderfully, forgiveness is not a partial thing. Forgiveness does not come in half measures; it is all or nothing. It is either extended or held back, freely offered or completely withheld. To be partly forgiven is to be wholly damned. Partial forgiveness is complete condemnation. The Christian and the Christian alone knows the pure delight of God’s full and final forgiveness.

Christian, you can joyfully accept and proclaim “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.” The biggest of your sins is nailed to the very same cross as the smallest. God has forgiven the sins you don’t even remember in the same way and to the same degree as the sins you just can’t forget. He has extended grace for the sins known to the whole world and the ones known only to you and him. And all of this means that you, with the hymn writer, must conclude: “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

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