He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)
Yesterday, I messed up. I betrayed a friend’s confidence. It was a thoughtless slip of the tongue but, unintentional or not, the damage was done. My friend, being a generous and gracious person, forgave me immediately. The Lord, being a generous and gracious God, also forgave me. I, however, had trouble accepting their forgiveness. Though they forgave me, I could not forgive myself.
All I could see was my mistake, my sin, my actions that had harmed another person. I didn’t DESERVE to be forgiven. The knowledge of my stupid act devastated (yes, devastated) every waking moment. It even muted the constant joy I feel from the Holy Spirit. Then, just as I was certain I would never be able to forgive myself, Jesus reminded me of the guy formerly known as Saul.
Saul of Tarsus made his living killing Christians. He was a professional executioner, which he accomplished with righteous zeal. He approved the bloody stoning of St. Stephen (Acts. 8:1), and went everywhere to destroy the Church (v.3). He was a perfect CKM (Christian Killing Machine), until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In a few sentences, Our Lord showed this man how very badly he’d ‘messed up’. The reality of Saul’s sin must have devastated his body, because when he opened his eyes, “he could see nothing”.
Saul had to be led like a child, and he refused to eat or drink for days.
I believe he gave up. He was blind. He’d persecuted Jesus and killed His children. I don’t think he had any hope of God’s forgiveness, and he certainly couldn’t forgive himself. Then, when he was at his lowest, God sent Ananias to help him back to the Light. The scriptures say “something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again.” (Acts 9:18-19)
When I read this, something like scales fell from my eyes as well. If God could forgive a sinner like Paul, who did not deserve to be forgiven on ANY level, and if Paul was able to accept His forgiveness, then I should be willing to do the same. It wasn’t about me any more than it was about Paul. It’s about God caring for us so much that there is no room in His heart for anything except His overwhelming love.
There’s a movie called ‘Fifty First Dates’ about a man who falls in love with a woman with short-term memory loss. Every morning she forgets who he is, and he has to woo her all over again. God’s love is a bit like that. When we accept Christ into our hearts, our past is wiped away. He will, as the Psalm says remove “our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” There’s nothing left of my sin, not even a memory. When I try to bring up my sin to Him, he just laughs at me and wipes away those silly old scales from my eyes. And once again, I can see.