Updated: Jan 27
Psalm 103: 12, Isaiah 43: 25
In my blog sequence based on my book and video series, "Live Like You're Loved," I now ask you a crucial question: Is it harder to believe that God loves you, or that God forgives you?
For many, the answer is that God's forgiveness is even more difficult to comprehend than God's love. As I wrote in an earlier blog, we find His forgiveness hard to believe because we think God operates like we do. We know it is hard for us to forgive others. Since God sees all and knows all about us, we reason that it must be even harder for God to forgive us.
Yet the Bible tells us something different - that God overcomes any qualms He might have to forgive us anyway when we repent. Psalm 103: 12 proclaims an incredible truth that is repeated in similar lyrical descriptions throughout the Bible:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Through the stories of the Hebrew people, and through eloquence of psalmists and prophets, the Old Testament shows us that God forgives and cleanses again and again, somehow removing our mistakes and our guilt to places where they can’t reach us again – as far as the east is from the west.
But this doesn’t explain WHY God forgives us. That’s an important question, answered by the core passage regarding forgiveness in Isaiah 43, verse 25:
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
It is curious to hear that an all-powerful God can’t remember something. Actually, this passage isn’t saying that God is forgetful. Instead, he blots out our transgressions, wipes them clean, blocks their effects. And he does not remember them, which is slightly different than forgetting them.
Instead, God chooses not to “remember” them – does not call them up again – does not remind us of them – does not remember them to us. God doesn’t dwell on our past failures.
We humans like to say, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.” And we delight in bringing up a past wrong at just the right time, don't we? But the Bible says God doesn’t do that. He wipes the slate clean and doesn’t keep reminding us of past sins.
God says He doesn't remember our sins "for my own sake." This means that it would go against God's character to keep remembering our sins. It would go against God's covenant promises. It would go against His desire to have an ongoing relationship with us.
Here is the most important thing to consider in this devotional: God is forgiving because of WHO HE IS, not WHO WE ARE. That’s why EVEN YOU can be forgiven by God. We wrongly imagine that forgiveness is about us. Actually, forgiveness is about God.
If you model that approach in your own life, your ability to forgive then is likewise about you, the forgiver, not the one who needs forgiveness! We can doubt that we can forgive the other person for what they have done. But if we are to be like Christ, who even forgave his murderers on the cross, then we must forgive as commanded in the Lord's Prayer. That's because enacting forgiveness is about who the forgiver is, not who the wrongdoer is.
So what do we do with this forgiveness from God? How do we believe it and embed it in our souls? How do we take the next step to forgive ourselves, and then apply that lesson to our forgiveness of others? These are the subjects of Friday's 7-Day Practical Faith blog.
If your small group is looking for content in 2023, check out "Live Like You're Loved." From my website, you can watch a trailer video, access the first video lesson for free, and see the first lesson plan. Please visit https://www.ceciltaylorministries.com/live-like-you-re-loved .