Divine amnesia

Shoreland Chapel devotion on March 3, 2016

Frank and George were both in their late 80s. They had been next door neighbors for over 20 years. Over that time, they purposely blew snow from their driveway into the other’s yard. They parked their vehicle in front of the other guy’s mailbox so the mailman wouldn’t deliver the mail. They collected their leaves and dumped them over the fence into the other’s garden. They even let their dogs do their business on the other neighbor’s front lawn.
They really did not get along.
George had terminal cancer. He was in hospice care in his home. His pastor came to visit George. In the course of their visit, the pastor learned that George carried a huge grudge against Frank. Even though he was on his deathbed, George was unwilling to forgive Frank for all the wrongs he had suffered at the hands of his neighbor for the past 20 years.
After a lot of discussion … and Bible passages … and prayer, the pastor finally persuaded George to see Frank and forgive him. George wasn’t happy about this, but he at last agreed. The pastor went next door and convinced Frank to come over to the house. Frank was led into George’s bedroom so a formal reconciliation could take place.
After a full hour of confession, repentance, and forgiveness was exchanged, Frank got up to leave. As he was walking out of the bedroom, George called out to him, “Remember, if I get better, this will all be off!”
We are relived that God is not at all like George. God has every right to remember every one of our sins. The lack of worship. The gossiping. The complaining. The bickering.
He has every right to shove our sins right into our face. The anger. The discontentment. The accusations. The selfishness.
He has every right to bring down judgment upon us for our constant commitment to breaking His Commandments. The failure to trust our pastors. The lack of respect toward our teachers. The stubbornness toward our coaches. The lack of effort toward our students.
God has every right to withhold forgiveness and remind us again and again about every single time that we mess up.
But He doesn’t. He doesn’t do a single one of those things. The Psalmist says in our text, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10).
If your grandmother has Alzheimer’s, you know how sad it is that she is losing her memory. And yet, when it comes to your heavenly Father, it is wonderful that He loses His memory about our sins! God acts like He has divine amnesia. As soon as we commit a sin, confess it, and repent of it, it is gone. Washed away in the flood of Jesus’ blood. Removed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Paid for by Jesus’ innocent suffering. Buried deep with the tomb of Jesus’ grave.
God does not hang our sins around our necks as burdens to carry everywhere we go. Instead, the Psalmist declares, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
God states with absolute certainty that His forgiveness is complete. Our sins are truly forgotten. He says “I am he who blots out your transgressions … and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).
God never says, “Remember, if circumstances change, this will all be off!” The gift of His forgiveness is not surrounded by exceptions, conditions or exclusions. Jesus bore the punishment of all our sins by His suffering and death. When our Savior cried out on the cross, “It is finished!” He confirmed that the payment for every sin had been made. When He rose from the grave He assured us that every sin had been removed. As He sits in heaven interceding for us as our Great High Priest (Hebrew 4:14), He is guaranteeing that every sin is forgotten by our heavenly Father. 
The first missionaries to Labrador, on the northeast corner of Canada, found that the aboriginal people had no word for “forgiveness” in their language. The missionaries had to determine a way to express this precious gift of God. They made a glorious choice: “not-being-able-to-think-about-it-anymore.” God doesn’t recall our sin because Jesus paid the penalty for us. Through Jesus, we are free from guilt and free to live in peace and joy with God because He remembers our sins no more!
And why does God act like this toward us? Why does He have divine amnesia when it comes to our sins? Because, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).

Psalm 103:1-12
Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Let us pray.

Lord God, have mercy on each of us, for we are sinners through and through. We are constantly wavering between unbelief and pride for our faith. Forgive us for our unbelief. Forgive us for the pride that we unnecessarily attach to our faith. Forgive us for our open sins, as well as our secret sins. Forgive the sins we know and enjoy doing. Forgive the sins we don’t know about and fall into by accident. Forgive the sins that we do to please ourselves and the sins we do to please others. Forgive them all and forget them all, our compassionate and gracious Lord. Praise the Lord. We do not forget all your benefits. All which are ours through Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest who convinces His Father to forgive with divine amnesia. Amen. 


Popular posts from this blog

The hand of the Triune God’s blessing

Be still – A funeral sermon for Jason Lopez, Jr.

Funeral sermon for Susan P. Tangerstrom