The remembrance of our sins. What it is? How does it impact the Christian life? And how is it dealt with? When will it be of no effect and value?
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1-4)
When I write or share light on certain subjects, some easily get offended with saying that I have not the credentials to approach such topics and therefore should cease in order to meet their expectations. What they do not know is that I have something in me that is constantly bringing my attention to things that I had not my attention before. When I say that the Holy Spirit is in me, even pastors get offended. When I was to say that the Holy Spirit has revealed to me such and such, even Christians who are considered my friends highly oppose such notion. What they do not know and may not yet understand is that whatever it is that is inside of me, bringing my mind to things that were once beyond our realm of understanding, when such occupies my mind with light on things that I never knew we needed much light on, I am left with no other option but to document such light and share it publicly to everyone and enlightened those who are ready to welcome such light for their upbringing by God. I will say this once and for all. My posts, I hope and pray, are to never be in opposition of a particular person, but to the building up of the church of Christ as God so chooses. Though I often receive the heat, the isolation, praises here and there, all belong to the Lord. I’m but a passing wind. Some will be thankful to God for my passing, while others will be thankful to God for my ceasing. All glory is to God by the grace of Christ Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Now, what is the remembrance of our sins? Why is it an issue?
First, the author of the letter to the Hebrews pointed this aspect of mankind that has plagued him since the very beginning. Had Adam and Eve forgotten that they had sin, they would not have gone into hiding. But can we forget our sins? And can we afford to forget our sins? Unless we have inherited an active case of dementia or memory impairment illness, we’re held accountable to remember our sins. And bringing our sins forward to the front burner of our memory is a highly depressing engagement to the psyche of mankind altogether.
In other words, if I forget my sins, my mind may be at peace within. But should others realized that I’ve forgotten my sins, they may quickly become offended and accuse me of belittling or denying my sins. In the end, I’m left with no human option that benefit both myself and others. For my own personal well-being, I don’t want to remember my sins. And for the well-being of others, I don’t want to forget my sins either. Stuck in between, as we often say.
For the record, the author of the letter to the Hebrews pointed out something that mankind has been doing for many years in the hope of gaining some peace against their sins: trying to make amends for their sins. It’s not just a Hebrew issue, but of all earthly tribes that had ever existed since the beginning of time.
If the people of Israel were coming to offer sacrifices for their sins year after year, it wasn’t just for newer sins but even for the past ones for which they had consciously atoned many years past. They offered their sacrifices, and felt relieved about such sins until such sins come to mind again and that others are condemning them in one shape or form because of such sins. They can’t forget their sins because they were constantly offering sacrifices for their sins. And that seemed to have been Problem #1. But the real problem is that, just like everyone else, they continually remember their sins regardless if they had offered sacrifices for them or not.
Quite often we hear, “let’s keep the past in the past”. The really is that we can’t keep the past in the past, otherwise, we would have stopped referring to the past in the present. True, the past happened. But it’s influencing the present and will likely serve as foundation for the future. So, for as much as we would like to forget what happened, someone will come along and cause us to remember it and even justify our remembrance of the past. What do we do then? We’ll come back to that question.
So how does the remembrance of sins impact the Christian’s life? He or she can’t get rid of it for as long as he or she exists in this earthly realm. The remembrance of our sins causes us to continually trying to make amends. This is why in the church, Christians are unceasingly crying their hearts out to God for forgiveness hoping forgiveness to also translate to their forgetfulness of their sins. Do we feel guilty about our sins? 100%. In the natural, we have no other option but to feel guilty about all of our wrongs. In the natural, we are guilty 100%. But before the throne of God, we are cleared of all charges due to Christ who took upon himself all the guilts of humanity and received God’s condemnation on their behalf. Did God forgive all of our sins? According to the gospel, he did. Has God forgotten all of our sins? According to the new covenant, he has. But have we or others forgotten our sins? No, we have not. And can we afford to forget our sins? No, we cannot. For our own mental health, should we forget our sins? Yes, we should. So what do we do then? Again, we’ll soon address this question.
Christ, knowing we would be stuck in this dilemma, brought a change. Now, some of you would disqualify such statement simply because I’m stating it here and not your favorite preacher or role model stating it. Why do we call it a change and how important is it? Well, Christ know that the memory of our sins would be in us until we leave this earth. He therefore created a new memory item for us to have along with the memory of our sins. He created his crucifixion as a mean to remind us that those sins that we can never stop remembering in this lifetime, those sins that we cannot forget in this lifetime have been forgiven by God, not by men, but by God. Why do I interject, “not by men”? Because the gospel says nothing about others forgiving us of our wrongs but God alone. The gospel says nothing about us not being condemned by others and even ourselves for our wrongs but God alone. So if you’re suffering condemnation in one form or another from yourself or others, it is quite natural. If there’s ever a condemnation that we have not received directly, it is God’s condemnation. We received God’s condemnation in the person of Christ indirectly and that was enough for God. But naturally not enough for ourselves and others.
So if I were to be terminated or let go from my job, would I be condemned in one form or another? You can bet that I would. Whether it’s budget cuts, bankruptcy, HR issues, whatever the cause, it’s still condemnation. And if I am divorced or separated or hated, is that condemnation? It sure is. What if I am the one disapproving others, is that condemnation? Most definitely. And I am sure that by now we all have realized that when Paul, in his writings, had said that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, he was explicitly referring to condemnation “by God”, not condemnation by ourselves or others. People look at you and condemn you. They hear your voice and condemn you. They smell you and condemn you. They think of you and condemn you. Some condemn you because they know you. Some condemn you because they don’t know you. So in this bubble, the only tiny little hole we can get some air from is in the knowledge that God condemned Christ in our place. Nobody else got to do that. Only God.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. ” (2 Corinthians 5:19) Paul wrote.
And he’s right. God counted people’s sins against Christ who had become Sin in person on the cross. Consequently, God counted people’s sins against Sin, the rightful owner of sins as I once wrote in a past article. Only God did that. Only God counted people’s sins against Sin through Christ. But, what about us? What do we do? Unlike God, we naturally count people’s sins against them. We do it even for ourselves.
Even years after some of the Hebrews had wanted to count their sins against the bulls and goats, they still remembered those sins and still counted them against themselves. It’s inescapable by any human mean. Although we breathe better when we don’t remember our sins, it is a scary thing to others when we don’t. Why? Because it may reveal that we have a greater issue, which is with our memory. We don’t remember everything for sure. But if we can’t remember ever doing anything wrong, that may feel good to us, but very concerning to others around us.
Have you realized that we can’t fall asleep until we have put our memory to rest? And as soon as we bring it back to our conscious mind, then sleep sometimes feel like an oasis in a desert.
So in this earthly lifetime, the remembrance of our sins has been balanced with the remembrance of Christ dying for our sins so that we retain the essential knowledge that despite all that we could suffer from others and ourselves as it concerns our sins, God who is above all has already dealt with our sins in Christ. As a bonus, he remembers them no more. We have an issue with the remembrance of our sins. But God doesn’t. He doesn’t because every time he looks at Christ sitting on the throne, he remembers that he’s already dealt with our sins. This remembrance of God having already dealt with our sins is the foundational point of the gospel.
In our minds, we can certainly say that everyone is against us including our own selves. But the gospel, testify that God, Christ, the Holy Spirit…and I know that it seems like I’m enumerating here, but that’s not the point I’m trying to get across here. The point is that there is someone who is not against us, and that is God. All who are led by His Spirit in Christ to His glory, the glory of his love for us, are for us and not against us. We can argue, reject, belittle such notion all we want and that will not take anything away from it.
When will the remembrance of our sins be of no effect or value? Well, to God, it is already of no effect or value because He already dealt with it in Christ. But for us who are still walking this earth, it won’t matter to us when we see our savior face to face to touch his hands where he was pierced for our sins and the sins of the whole world as John once put it.
As couples, fiancées, long-time boyfriends and girlfriends, have you ever said to have put a matter behind you but then pulled it forward at the very instance of experiencing a disappointment? Have you ever said that you have forgiven your loved one, but were simply waiting for the next opportunity to bring the issue one more time back to mind? Such is inescapable by any human mean. Even a breakup, a separation, a divorce cannot relieve one person from the condemnation of another. Worst of all, sometimes we often justify our condemnation of ourselves or the other person. For as much as we hope it to be so, we cannot natural keep ourselves from condemning others. We were taught since infancy by our upbringing from our parents, siblings, friends, classmates, teachers, and even preachers on how to condemn others.
For as long as our natural mind still function, we can’t forever escape doing what we have learned how to do. Can you imagine Adam and Eve fighting over hiding spots in the garden after they had disobeyed God? Do you read how they start condemning each other? That’s the nature of the mind. When it’s in pain in whatever shape or form, it condemns anything and anyone. Therefore, as coping mechanism to the remembrance of our sins and others’ sins, Christ left us the gospel which is how he dealt with Sin, the author of our sins, and how he dealt with our sins.
How you or I deal with our sins will naturally never be the same as how God dealt with our sins? But divinely, Paul said, “forgive as God forgave us in Christ”. How did God forgive us in Christ? He counted our sins against Christ who became Sin to receive suffering and death for the whole world.
As we remember our sins to condemn ourselves and others, remember as well the death of Christ which was more than enough of a condemnation for all of our sins. But can we do that? Can we truly do such by any natural mean? I don’t believe so. Only the Spirit of God can occupy our mind with God’s peace, joy and rest so that our eyes are kept on Jesus even when looking at our sins. In our minds, Jesus has to be aligned with our sins, Jesus first then our sins, so that we see our sins not through the natural mind, but through Jesus. Without grace, without the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of mankind, no such thing can ever come to fruition.
At the end of the day, if we are to remember our sins, then we’re left with the need of help to remember our sins not through the natural mind, but through Christ. If we are to gain much clarity about our sins, inarguably it will have to be done through Christ. And we hope in the grace of Christ Jesus to help us do that and rest, and as God permits, even rejoice. Rejoice not for the sins, but for our deliverance by God in Christ to restore us to knowing that he loves us.
Christ Jesus, our broken road: