He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
What a word.
Most of the time, I don’t like this word.
“She had her tooth removed.”
“She had to remove herself from the conflict in the room.”
“His title was removed and he was demoted.”
In general, remove is not a word I gravitate toward. I prefer words like remain, renew, refresh, rely–but remove, no thanks. Well, most of the time, no thanks.
In this beautiful passage, we get a glimpse, an understanding of what God does with our sin. He REMOVED it. Yes, gone, left behind, not there anymore, totally erased, as if it never happened.
That is difficult to take in. We remember what we did. We experience the consequences. But God is sending us a clear message that He removed our failures, our resistance of His way, and it no longer exists.
Many years ago I made a decision that would impact my leadership throughout my high school years.
As Sophomore class president, a team and I worked for hours and hours planning every detail for an all-school dance. . Some friends suggested we enjoy a little wine before the dance. You know the kind that opens with a screw top–the cheap stuff.
When we got to the dance, in my innocence and ignorance, I just left the wine in the backseat of the car.
As was my style, I went around and greeted everyone, thanking parents for helping out, workers, and of course, the police officers who were providing security.
Leaving the dance with my friends, I saw in the distance the same police officers approaching. As they got closer, my friends began backing away.. Soon I was left all alone.
The next thing I knew, this overpowering light shone brightly on the bumper sticker that was placed in the center of the rear window of my car. It read, “Jesus is Lord.” (That’s one way to get the Good News out!)
Embarrassed and scared, I complied with the police officer order to remove (oh that word!) all of the wine bottles from the backseat of my car. One by one, in front of roughly 400 of my peers and teachers, I was instructed to pour each bottle out. There I was serving as Sophomore Class President, fully exposed. Not only was I breaking the law, I was far from providing a good role model.
I was in a place of direct disobedience.
I made a choice that led to consequences. I lived with those consequences: a declined trust from teachers and administrators, being overlooked for some awards and scholarships, and more.
But, the action I took that night, the choice I made to disregard not only the law of the land, but God’s perfect way for me, that action was forgiven and forgotten when I repented. As far as God was concerned, it never happened.
This is so important for us to absorb. God removes our sins as far as the East is from the West. They are no longer in His view. If you are early in your faith, this may be hard to grasp. It may take some time to believe that God doesn’t know your sin because he took it all on Himself. If you are someone who has walked out your faith for decades, this is not new. Still, I’m curious, do you, seasoned follower of Christ, live like your forgiven sin is out of God’s view?
This is less about you and more about the character of God. He said it is His righteousness not our own. He imparted this removal to us when we received all that Christ did for us on Calvary and through His resurrection. As mature believers, if we still struggle with this idea of forgiveness, perhaps it’s time to reconnect with the word remove.
You are forgiven. Read this passage from Psalm 103 again. This is David under the inspiration of the Lord speaking.
No matter where you are on your journey with God, let today be a day you rediscover the power and love behind the word, remove.
Dear Faithful God,
Thank you for your Word. Thank you for the completed work you accomplish in our lives – the forgiveness of sins, the removal of every resistance of you, and the reconciled friendship we have with you. Thank you for Jesus. AMen