(I had to update it because the SCUBA diving record was broken twice since I first wrote this.)
God deals with our sins as thoroughly as He does everything else: in all dimensions of space and time. Those who go to God in repentance do not meet scorn or contempt or anger. Micah 7:18 says that God “delights in mercy”. Notice how all the Scripture references to God’s forgiveness convey the idea of complete and irrevocable separation from our sins:
Micah 7:19 “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
The deepest part of the sea is the Mariana Trench, 6.83 miles deep. The deepest Guinness verified scuba dive was 1,090 feet. The deepest “free dive” or “no weight” dive was only 129 meters, or 423 feet.
Even using scuba capability, the Marianas trench is 33 times as deep as a human has ever been known to dive. And that was only one human, who had been SCUBA diving for 17 years and took four years to prepare for his record-breaking dive. In Micah’s day, anything lost overboard at sea was gone forever. This is the thought God is conveying with this word picture.
Psalm 103 :12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Consider a globe, such as is used to teach kids geography. North and south meet at the equator. Where do east and west meet?
If this Scripture had said “as far as the north is from the south”, you could calculate the distance. But east and west are only directions. You can circle the globe until your sponsors withdraw their support, but you’ll never come to the place where east and west meet. It doesn’t exist. And God had this written (2nd Peter 1:21) before a globe existed, before those directions and locations were plotted. But what He caused to be written 4,000 years ago is still true today. (Matthew 24:35)
Isaiah 38:17 “…you have put all my sins behind your back.”
You could use a mirror to see behind your back, but it’s not nearly as easy as seeing what’s in front of you. That’s why we have a popular expression which says “I’ve got your back.” God could have said, “I will set their sins to one side”, but that wouldn’t be much comfort, because we all use peripheral vision every day. Instead, God chose (again) the most absolute expression possible, this time regarding line-of-sight.
AND EVERY OTHER WAY IMAGINABLE:
A quadruple whammy of our sins: God washes out AND blots out AND forgets our sins AND replaces them with His “towering mercy”:
1. Isaiah 1:18 ” ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ” Some of you may be old enough to remember when clothes faded after being laundered many times. But in Isaiah’s day, scarlet and crimson were “fast” dyes! They didn’t fade. so what God is saying here is that He can cleanse us from any sin at all, period, no exceptions.
2. Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” First Isaiah tells us that God washes out all trace of our sins, then he says that God spills ink on the page for good measure. Even now, in the 21st century, my online bank considers that “two-factor security” is good enough to protect its clients’ records. But God goes far beyond that.
3. Hebrews 10:17-18: He then goes on to say, ‘…and their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” God chooses to forget our sins. Is this not incredible? Is this not cause for incredible joy? And cause for fervent gratitude to the Holy One of Israel?
I don’t understand how God could choose to forget anything. Can He actually erase part of His own memory? But I do understand the meaning of this promise. It means that God will not in the future accuse you of past sins repented of and forgiven. They are not “history”. They are water down the drain. Gone, as far as you ever hearing about them from God again. He will never mention them again.
4. You may have heard the expression “a towering rage”. Here is God’s inversion of that phrase for those who reverence Him:
Psalm 103:11 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.” How far are the heavens above the earth? In the Psalmist’s day, no one took seriously the idea of humans flying. (Archimedes wouldn’t be born for another millennia or so.) Even when Wilbur and Orville Wright and others began to build the first airplanes, people actually said, “If God meant men to fly, He’d have given them wings.”
Again, God chose the most absolute expression possible in the Psalmist’s lifetime for travel in the vertical plane. Because of God’s sacrifice of His Son on Calvary, instead of God’s wrath, God’s mercy towers over you from the ground all the way up to the throne of God.
IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD:
And that’s not all. Consider for a few minutes Colossians 2:13-15:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. [Remember, Paul is writing to believers in Jesus here.] He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the list of charges against us, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
“When you were dead in your trespasses and your sins”. While we were still sinners. God did not wait for us to make ourselves good enough to deserve His love. He acted while we were no more than particularly violent and reprehensible mammals.
“having canceled the list of charges against us” – do you remember the incident when the Pharisees dragged this poor woman in front of Jesus and said they’d caught her in the very act of adultery, Moses’ law said to stone her, and what did Jesus say they should do? They wanted Him to either condemn the woman to death and ruin His extremely high approval rating with the general population, or commit sin by rejecting the Law. They thought they had Jesus cornered.
Jesus stooped down and began writing in the dirt, remember? I’ve been told that the Greek words indicate that what Jesus was writing was “the list of charges” – against the Pharisees. He was publicly naming names, times, dates, amounts … and they very quickly realized they should leave, like now.
The list of charges against you, if you are a believer in Jesus, has been “taken away”. The Judge said, “Give Me that!” and snatched it out of the hands of our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and what happens next is amazing grace –
“…he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
“nailing it to the cross”. Do you remember that Pilate ordered a sign written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek which said, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”, and had it nailed it to the cross? The chief priests requested that Pilate take it down, but Pilate replied, “Not a chance.” (Actually, he said, “What I have written, I have written.”)
If you believe, as I do, that Satan and other demons were involved in getting Jesus crucified, then you see a deeper significance. Pilate, angry at the Pharisees for pressuring him to execute Jesus against his will, defied the Pharisees. In so doing, he served notice to the world of Jesus’ kingship and His atonement for sins. The Pharisees were angry because Pilate honored one they wanted dishonored.
But the demons were angry because they understood the spiritual meaning of that sign. They saw in that sign “the list of charges against us”, that is, against humans, and they were furious. But God’s will prevailed, and the sign stayed up. The notice was served. King Jesus had, by going through with God the Father’s plan, triumphed over them and made a public spectacle of them, not only in this world! You know the holy angels were yelling up a storm, cheering for their Commander! And the demons and their commander could do nothing but sulk. Satan and the demons had lost the most important battle, and the whole universe knew it.
Hebrews 10:14: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (That’s us, brothers and sisters!)
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell
God could not possibly say it any plainer or more completely: to those who place their faith in Jesus, your sins are forgiven, gone, forgotten! Hallelujah Amen!