One of my favorite books is The Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers, and if you’re not familiar with them, I can say only that they are gut-wrenching prayers, brimming with the theology of the Puritans. I try to read through one each morning, pondering its meaning and application as I sip on my coffee. The passion in these prayers is deeply compelling and a strong challenge to my own stoic nature.
I was reading through one this morning titled (by the editor, I’m sure) Union With Christ. Toward the end, I read over a line that said this: “My great evil is that I do not remember the sins of my youth, nay, the sins of one day I forget the next.” While I love the passion of these prayers, it is difficult to imagine a way in which I could disagree with this line more than I do, and I see this as a great and pervasive problem in the body of Christ today.
So many of us in the body of Christ (and I am not immune to this) walk with the heavy burden of self-sin-awareness. We beat ourselves mercilessly, vowing to do better, to be stronger. We become convinced that our self-abasement somehow magnifies God’s holiness. I would argue that the exact opposite is true.
Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more,” a quotation of Jeremiah 31:34. He says it again in Hebrews 10:17. Isaiah 43:25 quotes God saying, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” There are many other places where the Bible communicates this same message, but these are sufficient to make the point.
Who are we, as forgiven believers and followers after Christ, to hold onto that which God himself remembers no more? To say, “My greatest evil is that I do not remember the sins of my youth” is an insult to the grace of God and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. So strong is this issue in the mind of God that the Bible employs a forceful double negative in the Greek text to emphasize the point, saying essentially, “By no means, will I ever remember your sins!”
This is the mentality of a forgiven believer! Rather than remembering our sins, we should be remembering the cross! Remembering our sins places the focus on ourselves, our effort, and ultimately our failures. Remembering the cross places our focus on Christ, grace, God’s love, and ultimately our victory over sin through faith in Jesus.
When you are tempted to focus on the sin of your past, I challenge you, rather, to think on Hebrews 10:14, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” That is you, Christian. You are perfected for all time by the sacrificial love of Jesus. Walk confidently in that love.
Victoriously in Christ!