God Doesn’t Keep Lists

Your Sins—Even Your Worst Ones—Are Utterly Obliterated Through Confession

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of others’ offenses, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more.

more-than-conquerors

Read: Psalm 130 // Focus: Psalm 1303-:4

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of the mistakes and offenses of others, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more. The Apostle John wrote, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

King David, who not only knew a great deal about personal sin, but Divine pardon as well, spoke in Psalm 103:3 & 12 of a God, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” How amazing is that! God takes the worst sins of the repentant sinner and obliterates them from his record. He wipes them from his memory banks — “as far as the east is from the west”—which, the last time I checked, was a long way.

One of the most moving and poignant descriptions of this forgiving God was penned by the prophet Micah. He spoke of God not just in terms of his willingness to forgive, but even more, of his passionate desire and aggressive search for ways to extend forgiveness to sinners. Take a moment to absorb this mind-boggling truth from Micah 7:18-19,

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

No wonder the psalmist called us to “fear” the Lord in response to God’s unmerited forgiveness. To fear the Lord meant to reverence him, and to offer him a heart of gratitude, praise and love. Obviously, that is the only right response to a God who goes out of his way to forgive people who have gone out of their way to offend him.

I am so grateful for a God who forgives my transgressions—and remembers them no more. There is no other god like him, and I will be eternally indebted to his mercy and grace. When I think about his “unfailing love and…full redemption,” (Psalm 130:7) I am simply undone. How about you?

What love, what mercy, what grace…what a God!

Making Life Work: Are you in need of divine forgiveness? Why not ask God to forgive you—right now. After all, he delights to show mercy!

A Divine Pass

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 25
Focus: Psalm 25:7

“Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD.”

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t remember the sins of your youth, the indiscretions of yesteryear? For that matter, aren’t you glad God doesn’t count your sins from yesterday against you? I sure am. And so was David.

David knew better than anyone the benefit of God’s gracious forgiveness. Perhaps no other person in history had his dirtiest, darkest laundry aired in public more than David did. Adulterer, conspirer, manipulator, cold-hearted you-know-what, murderer—that’s what David was! Yet David found in God something that you and I depend on for our very existence, something the non-believing world cannot grasp: Unconditional, unlimited, undeserving forgiveness.

Of all the Divine benefits David enjoyed in his life, forgiveness was right there at the top of the list. In that eloquent poetic listing of the blessings of belonging, Psalm 103, forgiveness was the very first one he mentioned:

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins…” (Psalm 103:1-3)

David went on in that psalm to describe the scope of God’s forgiveness in 9-14:

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

How does God forgive? According to those verses, in grace and mercy God forgives all of our sins. He doesn’t give us what we deserve—punishment—and he gives us what we don’t deserve—forgiveness. How does he forgive us? Completely—as far as the east is from the west he removes the stain and guilt of our sin. Last time I looked, that was a long way away! How does God forgive us? Out of the compassion of a father’s heart—like a father overflowing with love for a wayward child.

Perhaps that’s why David could write so many beautiful songs about the goodness of God. He, more than anyone, understood the benefits and blessings of being forgiven.

You can too!

__________________

“Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, ‘I can clean that if you want.’ And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin.” (Max Lucado)

 

Making Life Work: Perhaps it would do you some good to stop and consider for a moment the benefits and blessings of the gracious, undeserving, unlimited forgiveness that God has extended to you. Maybe, like David, as you realize how much you have been covered by his grace and mercy, you too, will exclaim, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”

God Doesn’t Keep Lists

Reflect

Psalm 130:3-4

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of the mistakes and offenses of others, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more. The Apostle John wrote, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

King David, who not only knew a great deal about personal sin, but Divine pardon as well, spoke in Psalm 103:3 & 12 of a God, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” How amazing is that! God takes the worst sins of the repentant sinner and obliterates them from his record. He wipes them from his memory banks—“as far as the east is from the west”—which, the last time I checked, was a long way.

One of the most moving and poignant descriptions of this forgiving God was penned by the prophet Micah. He spoke of God not just in terms of his willingness to forgive, but even more, of his passionate desire and aggressive search for ways to extend forgiveness to sinners. Take a moment to absorb this mind-boggling truth from Micah 7:18-19,

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

No wonder the psalmist called us to “fear” the Lord in response to God’s unmerited forgiveness. To fear the Lord meant to reverence him, and to offer him a heart of gratitude, praise and love. Obviously, that is the only right response to a God who goes out of his way to forgive people who have gone out of their way to offend him.

I am so grateful for a God who forgives my transgressions—and remembers them no more. There is no other God like him, and I will be eternally indebted to his mercy and grace. When I think about his “unfailing love and…full redemption,” (Psalm 130:7) I am simply undone. How about you?

What love, what mercy, what grace…what a God!

“Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.” ~Saint Augustine

Come Clean

Reflect:
Psalm 51:1-19

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” ~Psalm 51:10-12

It is hard to imagine the depth of David’s anguish as he came before the Lord carrying the guilt and shame of his unholy affair with Bathsheba. He had committed adultery, conspired to commit murder, executed a gifted and loyal soldier and manipulated people like pawns on a chess board to cover his tracks—but lived with an unbearable sickness of soul for the several months during which he managed to keep his dirty little secret hidden. (Psalm 32:3-4)

Then a courageous prophet named Nathan stood before David and stabbed the prophetic finger of truth into the king’s check. David was the most powerful man in the world, a man who held the power of life and death over people, even pesky little prophets, yet Nathan fearlessly confronted the king with this evil. And David repented. (II Samuel 12:13, Psalm 32:5) In David’s moving prayer of contrition before the Lord, which is what Psalm 51 really is, the broken king expressed to God a depth of shame and humility that revealed why, in spite of such a horrible sin, he was still a man after God’s heart.

This psalm provides a powerful case study in authentic repentance. David wasn’t wanting just to off-load his guilt by getting this sin off his chest. He wasn’t just attempting to get a pass by coming clean. He wasn’t just feeling sorry because he had finally been caught. Not at all! David recognized the utter horror of having offending a holy God. He realized the indescribable pain of having messed up the lives of people over whom he had just played God. He fully confessed his wicked act—and the wicked heart that had led to the act. (Psalm 51:5) By so doing, David cast himself upon God’s infinite mercy, recognizing that only then could he be granted a heart that was truly clean, tender to the Lord, and willing to do the things that God desired. (Psalm 51:10-13,17)

Yes, it’s hard to imagine David’s pain! Or is it? Have we not offended the Lord just as coldly and willingly as David? Have we not murdered, conspired, been willfully unfaithful and concealed sin before a holy God who demands holiness of us? Yes—we have! Not visibly, but certainly in our heart—in the inner, invisible, secret core of who we really are—which Jesus pointed out is just as offensive to a holy God and corrosive to our spirit as the physical act of sin. (Matthew 5:21-28)

This psalm of repentance isn’t really about David. It’s about you and me! Which means, in truth, we are in no less in need of the mercy and grace of Almighty God than this heartbroken king. And not only are we, too, in need of a God who will forgive all of our sins, but we are in desperate need of a merciful God who will create within us a clean heart and grant us a willingness to fully obey.

True repentance—what a grace! Only then can we know the deepest and best joy of all: The joy of our salvation! (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 32:1-2 NLT))

“Wherever there is a pulverized and penitent heart, there grace also is, and wherever there is a voluntary confession not gained by pressure, there love covereth a multitude of sins.” ~Menno Simons

Reflect and Apply: As you bring your sins before the Lord today, first reflect on I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Forgiveness: Give As Prescribed

5×5×5 Bible Plan

Read: Mark 11
Meditation:
Mark 11:25-26

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Shift Your Focus… Don’t skip past Jesus’ words about forgiveness too quickly! Far too many Christians claim an exemption on this one—to the Lord’s dismay and to their own harm.  In no uncertain terms, Jesus said that if we want to access what the Father longs to release to us—forgiveness—then we must release that very same forgiveness to others.  If we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven!

Having said that, there is another side to the forgiveness coin that we need to consider as well if we are going to have theological balance in this matter. The question that always comes up when we begin to talk about forgiveness is: Do we have to forgive everyone who has offended us?

I think there is a fair amount of confusion on this, and a lot of misguided theology is to blame. Perhaps you’ve been taught that you are to forgive others even when they don’t repent of the wrong they have committed. And the scriptural justification for that is Jesus’ words we read here. That might be leveraged, for instance, to say to the wife of a chronically unfaithful husband, “You gotta’ forgive him, or God won’t forgive you.”

But that interpretation fails to reconcile Jesus’ teachings with the rest of scripture, best summarized in Colossians 3:13 and Ephesians 4:32, where we are commanded to forgive others in the same manner that God forgives us.

How does God forgive us? When we confess. Confession opens the door to forgiveness. I John 1:9 says, “If…” underscore that conditional clause, “…if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Nothing in the Bible indicates that God forgives sin if people don’t confess and repent of the sin.

Furthermore, the Bible always calls the sinner to repentance—that is, a radical reversal of the attitudes and actions that resulted in the sin. Confession without repentance is always hollow. (Matthew 3:7-8, Acts 2:37-38)

So when that wife is encouraged to forgive her adulterous husband while he is continuing in his sin, she is being asked to do something that God himself doesn’t require. What Scripture does teach is that we must always be ready and willing, as God is always ready and willing, to forgive those who repent. But forgiveness without confession and repentance doesn’t lead to reconciliation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great theologian who was martyred by hanging in a Nazis concentration camp in 1945, said forgiveness without repentance is “cheap grace… which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner.”

Let me suggest that when there is no confession for a moral wrong committed against you, the better response would be to release that person to God’s justice in hopes that God will deal with them in a way that brings them to repentance and reconciliation.

If you forgive cheaply, as Bonhoeffer warns, you may very well circumvent God’s process to bring that person to repentance and in so doing, close the door to reconciliation in your relationship.

Be very discerning about cheap grace. Genuine forgiveness and Biblical reconciliation require a two-person transaction that is enabled by the confession and repentance.

Yes, forgive! Do it early and often, quickly and fully. Be a forgiver, for sure, but don’t go beyond what Scripture teaches.

“Forgiveness does not mean excusing.” ~C.S. Lewis

Prayer… Father, enable me to be a forgiver—just as you are.  No more—but certainly no less.

God Doesn’t Keep Lists

Read Psalm 130

Featured Verse: Psalm 130:3-4

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

God doesn’t keep lists. Aren’t you glad for that? Unlike some of us who keep track of the mistakes and offenses of others, our gracious God doesn’t! When we confess our sins and repent of our offenses, the Lord remembers them no more. The Apostle John wrote, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse of from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

King David, who not only knew a great deal about personal sin, but Divine pardon as well, spoke in Psalm 103:3 & 12 of a God, “who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” How amazing is that! God takes the worst sins of the repentant sinner and obliterates them from his record. He wipes them from his memory banks—“as far as the east is from the west”—which, the last time I checked, was a long way.

One of the most moving and poignant descriptions of this forgiving God was penned by the prophet Micah. He spoke of God not just in terms of his willingness to forgive, but even more, of his passionate desire and aggressive search for ways to extend forgiveness to sinners. Take a moment to absorb this mind-boggling truth from Micah 7:18-19,

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

No wonder the psalmist called us to “fear” the Lord in response to God’s unmerited forgiveness. To fear the Lord meant to reverence him, and to offer him a heart of gratitude, praise and love. Obviously, that is the only right response to a God who goes out of his way to forgive people who have gone out of their way to offend him.

I am so grateful for a God who forgives my transgressions—and remembers them no more. There is no other God like him, and I will be eternally indebted to his mercy and grace. When I think about his “unfailing love and…full redemption,” (Psalm 130:7) I am simply undone. How about you?

What love, what mercy, what grace…what a God!

“Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.” ~Saint Augustine

Come Clean

Essential 100—Read:
Psalm 51:1-19

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” ~Psalm 51:10-12

It is hard to imagine the depth of David’s anguish as he came before the Lord carrying the guilt and shame of his unholy affair with Bathsheba. He had committed adultery, conspired to commit murder, executed a gifted and loyal soldier and manipulated people like pawns on a chess board to cover his tracks—but lived with an unbearable sickness of soul for the several months during which he managed to keep his dirty little secret hidden. (Psalm 32:3-4)

Then a courageous prophet named Nathan stood before David and stabbed the prophetic finger of truth into the king’s check. David was the most powerful man in the world, a man who held the power of life and death over people, even pesky little prophets, yet Nathan fearlessly confronted the king with this evil. And David repented. (II Samuel 12:13, Psalm 32:5) In David’s moving prayer of contrition before the Lord, which is what Psalm 51 really is, the broken king expressed to God a depth of shame and humility that revealed why, in spite of such a horrible sin, he was still a man after God’s heart.

This psalm provides a powerful case study in authentic repentance.  David wasn’t wanting just to off-load his guilt by getting this sin off his chest.  He wasn’t just attempting to get a pass by coming clean. He wasn’t just feeling sorry because he had finally been caught. Not at all! David recognized the utter horror of having offending a holy God. He realized the indescribable pain of having messed up the lives of people over whom he had just played God. He fully confessed his wicked act—and the wicked heart that had led to the act. (Psalm 51:5) By so doing, David cast himself upon God’s infinite mercy, recognizing that only then could he be granted a heart that was truly clean, tender to the Lord, and willing to do the things that God desired.   (Psalm 51:10-13,17)

Yes, it’s hard to imagine David’s pain!  Or is it?  Have we not offended the Lord just as coldly and willingly as David? Have we not murdered, conspired, been willfully unfaithful and concealed sin before a holy God who demands holiness of us?  Yes—we have! Not visibly, but certainly in our heart—in the inner, invisible, secret core of who we really are—which Jesus pointed out is just as offensive to a holy God and corrosive to our spirit as the physical act of sin. (Matthew 5:21-28)

This psalm of repentance isn’t really about David. It’s about you and me! Which means, in truth, we are in no less in need of the mercy and grace of Almighty God than this heartbroken king. And not only are we, too, in need of a God who will forgive all of our sins, but we are in desperate need of a merciful God who will create within us a clean heart and grant us a willingness to fully obey.

True repentance—what a grace! Only then can we know the deepest and best joy of all: The joy of our salvation! (Psalm 51:12, Psalm 32:1-2 NLT))

“Wherever there is a pulverized and penitent heart, there grace also is, and wherever there is a voluntary confession not gained by pressure, there love covereth a multitude of sins.” ~Menno Simons

Reflect and Apply: As you bring your sins before the Lord today, first reflect on I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”