Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.
What does God do for us when He forgives us? In Romans 4:7-8 Paul described how God forgives: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” That phrase “take into account” is an accounting term that means to be charged against somebody’s account. When God forgives us through our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, He takes our sin and marks it “paid in full.” We never have to worry that God is going to ask for another payment for our sin. Paul made another allusion to that truth in Colossians 2:13-14: “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” That is, God took that long list of your sins and my sins–sins that we owe God an eternity in hell to pay for–and He nailed that list to the cross of Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word He used means “paid in full.” Your sin debt has been forever canceled. It has been paid in full.
It is possible to forgive a debt without forgetting a debt. Some years ago, my wife and I decided to give one of our cars to our church. But I had lost the title. So before I could get a title to make the transfer, I had to call the lending agency to show that there wasn’t a lien against the car, that the debt had been paid. Suppose I had written the agency and they had written me back a letter that said: “Dear Dr. Jeffress, unfortunately we have no record of your debt because we have a policy that as soon as the loan is paid off we destroy the records of the debt.” Does that happen? No. The computers at General Motors have long, long memories. But suppose instead they wrote me a letter and said: “Dear Dr. Jeffress, we found a record of your debt. We saw that you paid it off; however, we noticed that we had offered you an unusually low interest rate that on further reflection wasn’t a fair interest rate. So we recalculated what you owe us. Please send us a check for $2,000.” Fortunately they didn’t do that either. Instead, they not only recalled the debt I had, but they also recalled that the debt had been paid. They mailed me a copy of my title that had been stamped “Paid.” They not only remembered the debt, but they also recalled that the payment had been made to satisfy the debt. And that’s what God does for each of us. The fact is, God doesn’t forget our sin. He could never forget our sin that demanded the death of His own Son. However, He also recalls the payment that Jesus made on our behalf.
In 1 John 2:1 John said, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The Greek word translated “advocate” means lawyer. We have an attorney before the judge of all the universe. When Satan accuses us, we have an attorney–Jesus Christ–who reminds our heavenly Father, “Everything Satan is saying is true; but remember, Father, I paid the price, and I paid the debt in full.” It is possible to recall a debt and still also forgive the debt.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Forgiving without Forgetting” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.