My daughter lives in LA now and I live on the east coast. We went out to visit her recently. As I flew on the plane I thought, ’Boy is this a long flight between the east and the west.’ … which led me to think about Psalm 103:12 and my sins being forgiven.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
And underneath that uncomfortable mask on the plane I smiled. It was a connection between God and I. He knows I get it. I smiled because suddenly the forgiveness verses came rushing back to me. Long ago I had made a list of Scripture verses which tell me God forgives me and I call them my “forgiveness verses.” I smiled because a phrase like “the east is from the west” sends my thought process towards Scripture. It has become a part of me. It is how my mind works now – to be directed to Him. And I smiled because the lesson I learned way back then has stuck with me to this day. It is glued into my mind. Into my heart. Into my soul.
I became a believer in middle school. I was however what I call an Occasional Christian. Christianity didn’t really play into my daily life. The truth was I was very ignorant of the faith I professed. I had little training and wasn’t sure I really believed everything that Christianity claimed. Actually I hadn’t thought a lot about my beliefs. My faith wasn’t part of my daily every day life. I guess I thought about if I will end up in heaven, but it wasn’t about what will happen to me this day, this hour, or this minute. See I wanted Jesus as a Savior, but didn't really care about Him being my Lord.
And then in 2001 a series of events sent me into a deep depression. When I was in that very real, very terrifying, deep dark pit of despair; I reached out to the only One who had any control of saving me. I don’t mean eternal salvation wise; I mean tangibly in the moment. I promised God if He intervened in my life at that moment, I was His from then on. I’ve kept that promise. I now do daily life with God and it is is so much better than I ever could have imagined.
I didn’t become super knowledgeable about my faith at the moment I made God that promise in 2001. It has been a journey. I had certain concepts I needed to learn and embrace. Being forgiven was one of them.
A Christian professes we are forgiven. That is the whole reason Jesus had to die on the cross - to be the substitutionary atonement for our sins. I said I believed this, but yet I still doubted that I was truly forgiven. Oh sure, those sins of unkindness, of pride, of being stingy with my money, of gossiping,… sure, I could believe God has forgiven those ‘little’ sins. But the big ones, the ones which were really ugly, the sins that I kept a secret from everyone; I just couldn’t believe He would forgive those! And so I lived in this limbo claiming to be forgiven, but not really believing I actually was completely forgiven.
Then I heard a sermon. This has probably been eighteen years ago and I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it was something to the effect that doubting you are forgiven is a sin. It’s a sin because it is unbelief. The whole purpose of the cross is we go from unforgiven to forgiven; from unrighteous to righteous. Either Jesus' death on the cross and His resurrection paid for our sins or it didn't. Either you believe it or you don’t. And yet we somehow hang in that space of partially believing it and partially thinking it is too easy and too good to be true. That void space. We often aren’t even aware we are in that place.
Perhaps I am jumbling several sermons together but I seem to remember the pastor talked about substitutionary atonement/ about forgiveness and the promise of Scripture/ and we should stop making God into a small god. If God says He is going to forgive us by our belief, than believe it. I seem to remember this was the service we were each given a small wooden cross to remind us of what Jesus did for us. I kept that cross in my purse for years. And we got a yellow post-it and pen and wrote our sin(s) on it and we went up to a large wood cross and stuck our sin(s) on the cross. A symbol of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and our sins being nailed to the cross. We are redeemed. It was a powerful moment for me.
It wasn’t that single moment when I crossed from the doubtful limbo area to belief that I am forgiven. I pondered the concept for quite a long time. I studied Scripture. I listed my “forgiveness verses.” I read commentaries and study Bible footnotes on those verses. I committed them to memory. And at some point I took hold of the belief.
These verses are my go-to when my mind starts doubting. When I feel like I’m disappointing God. When I think He must surely be angry with me because I just can’t get it right. I remind myself that the God of creation loves me so much that He has provided a way for me to be forgiven. I believe His Word. I remind myself He is faithful and true and full of lovingkindness.
Believing I am forgiven has changed my life. Rocked my world. It gives me profound peace. Fills me with joy. Humbles me to thankful gratitude. Makes me smile.
Talk about changing your worldview!
Yes, I believe it to my core now. My sins are cast as far as the east is from the west. He remembers them no more. I am as white as snow. I have become like wool. My sins are cast into the depths of the sea. He has cast them behind His back. He has blotted them out. Tread them under His foot. I am declared righteous.
All because of my Savior. Thank you Jesus.
Here’s my list of “forgiveness verses.”
Psalm 103:10-14 (as far as the east is from the west)
Isaiah 38:17 (cast all my sins behind His back)
Micah 7:19 (tread our iniquities under foot and into the depths of the sea)
Romans 8:1 (no condemnation for those in Christ)
1 John 1:9 (cleanse us from all unrighteousness)
Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17 (remembers our sins no more)
Ephesians 1:7 (forgiveness of sins through His blood)
Isaiah 1:18 (white as snow, become like wool)
Isaiah 55:7 (abundantly pardon)
Acts 3:19 (blotted out)
Matthew 26:28 (His blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins)
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.