Where are my old, forgiven sins?

“Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 10:17).

In the former days of computer technology, back when we preachers were finding what a help it could be to our writing, Pastor Frank Pollard retreated to the mountains to work on sermons and a book.  At one point, as he told later, in the midst of a chapter he was laboring over, he accidentally stroked a certain key and the entire piece disappeared.  Nothing he did retrieved it.  We all know that experience and identify with the frustration he felt.

So, later, he asked a computer-savvy friend to explain this.  “Where did my writing go?”

“It didn’t go anywhere,” said the friend.  “It just disappeared.”

Frank insisted, “It had to have gone somewhere.”

“Nope,” said the computer friend.  “It did not go anywhere; it went nowhere.”

Now, being the preacher constantly in search of illustrations and metaphors to make the Christian life understandable and the gospel applicable, Frank decided that this is how it is when “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sins.”  Where are those sins now? They’re just gone.

I can think of three scriptures that pretty much voice the same reality.

–“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).  How far is that?  Answer: infinity.

–“He will have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  (Micah 7:19).  The wonderful Corrie ten Boom used to say, “God buries our sins in the depths of the ocean, then erects a sign saying, ‘No fishing allowed.'”

–“Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 10:17).  What God forgives, He forgets.

Plenty of other texts speak up with similar assurances….

–“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sins” (I John 1:7).

–“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11).

–“You who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).

–“And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:13-15).

–“It is finished” (John 19:30).

I sat in the courtroom where my friend Tommy Wallace sat as city judge.  The trespassers brought before him were not major criminals but he still had the power to make life miserable for lawbreakers of the minor variety.  At one point Tommy issued this warning:  “Mr. Crenshaw, I tell you what we’re going to do.  We’re going to let you go this time.  But this charge against you is going to be retired to the files. It will be sitting there waiting on you.  Now, if you are ever brought back into this court again for anything–I mean, even spitting on the sidewalk–this old charge will be brought out and you will have to pay for it.  Is that clear?”

I sat there appreciating the situation the judge was in–trying to motivate right behavior from the defendant by holding an old charge over his head–and giving thanks that once the Lord deals with our sins, they are gone forever, never again to be brought before us.

I can remember plenty of my old sins and trespasses.  Sometimes in the wee hours when sleep will not come, my mind dredges up these old monstrosities and I am horrified to remember what I have done or failed to do.  It someone compiled a list of my misbehaviors–spiritual misdemeanors and felonies and everything in between!–the result would be horrendous.

And so with you.  None of us has escaped scot free.  We are all sinners; there is none righteous.  If the Lord should mark iniquities, no one would stand (Romans 3:10 and Psalm 130:3).

But when the blood of Jesus cleanses me of sin, those sins are gone forever.  I will never see them again.  His death on Calvary dealt with my sins.

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  (I John 2:1-2).  

And so we rejoice in the opening line of Romans 8—

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.**

Amen. Thank God.

(**Some translations have Romans 8:1 read: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  However, a footnote in many Bibles says “This phrase is not found here in the earliest manuscripts but only at the end of verse 4, perhaps indicating an inadvertent copyist insertion.” 

The New American Standard, my favorite for almost all my adult life, says:  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Period.  Amen and amen.) 


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