“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” - Micah 7:19
“Hey Lord, you remember that sin I committed yesterday?”
Most of us couldn’t really imagine having a conversation like this with our maker, but this past week a similar dialogue happened within my heart. I was starting off my morning prayer by repenting of my “big” sins the day before, even though I had done it already several times the day before. I started to bring it up so God would know I was still really, really sorry about what happened. His response however, was less than enthusiastic.
As a child I was confused by the notion of our omniscient God, “forgetting” our sins. The truth is, I still struggle with it now. The concept of the “sea of forgetfulness” as referenced in Micah 7 , simply escaped me. How could someone know everything, but choose to forget some things?
Legalism, which is often used to describe a very exact approach to obeying God’s law, probably most accurately captures the area in which I err as a believer. We all do in some way. Though the legalist often strikes people as cold and self-righteous, the truth is, there is an appeal that no one talks about. In a way, it would seem like the simplification of sanctification. “Before I got saved, I used to ______.” Fill in the blank with the worst sin you can think of. “But now, I ______.” Insert holy alternative here. It would seem that this is the litmus test of true repentance and salvation. It’s the logical person’s guide to understanding faith. But what happens when “I’ve been saved for 8 years and yesterday I slapped someone in the face.” The options are: “You’re failing”, “You’re not really saved”, “This wouldn’t happen if you read your Bible and prayed more”…etc., which can each be argued on occasion.
I have discovered, that for those of us who take our walk with God seriously, and seek to display evidence of a transformed life, we sometimes take on all the responsibility of holiness, as if it were something we could manage with stubborn effort and just the right amount of contrition. When we fall short of it; when we do sin, with a big sin, (you know, something socially unacceptable to other believers), we don’t know how to approach our Holy God in worship or prayer and act like nothing happened, even after we’ve confessed and repented. The guilt can be so overwhelming, knowing we have no way of truly making amends, we hide from God and tiptoe around Him for a few days like the angry father we’re waiting on to cool off after we totaled his car.
But what if, we took Micah 7 and imagined that the moment we confess our sin, and repent, no matter if it’s the 3rd or 333rd time we’ve done the SAME stupid thing, that He has forgiven us and welcomes us freely into His company unfettered by our wrongs. This welcome is not because of the quality of our apology, not because we are moved to tears with sorrow, nor because He remembers all the good that we have done, but simply because that’s what He said He would do. And, He does exactly what He says.
It takes me back to this passage in Galatians 3 “O foolish Galatians! … Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? 4 Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?”
Perhaps the next time you find yourself in a wrong, afraid to go to God, reminding Him day after day about each of your failures, and all the reasons He shouldn’t love you, or use you - try to remember, He was never keeping score.