You who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy.
~ Romans 11:30
The story goes something like this. Long ago, in a faraway land, there was an old man in a small village. The old man was a Christian. He also had the reputation for receiving direct messages from God.
One day another Christian came through that village—a Christian haunted by his past. When people told him about the old man, he didn’t know what to think. And so, he decided to try a test. He went to meet the old man. Then he told the old man this. He said, “I am a Christian, but for years I have been carrying the guilt of a terrible sin. The next time you talk to God, would you please ask him to tell you what that terrible sin was?” The old man agreed.
The next day, the two met again. “Did you talk to God last night?”
“Yes, I did,” said the old man.
“Did you ask him to tell you about my terrible sin?”
“Yes, I did,” the old man replied.
“And what did God tell you?”
In a strong, clear voice the old man answered, “He told me to tell you…that he doesn’t remember.”
When God speaks to you and me in the Bible about his forgiving mercy through faith in Jesus, many times you and I do not fully grasp what he means. Just because we often cling to memories of sins from the past, we assume that God does too. But that assumption is wrong.
Here is the truth. God was determined to wash away our sins of disobedience. He was determined to wash them away once and for all. And he did. He spilled the blood of his own Son to do it. Then he raised him from death to assure us that the guilt of our sin is gone. But not only is it gone from our record. It is even gone from God’s memory. As God has already said, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
That’s what God means by mercy. And that is the mercy we possess through faith in Jesus Christ.
God of mercy, so often I choose to cling to memories of sins from my past. But you do not. Help me to absorb this truth. With your gospel, heal my wounded heart. Amen.