Category Archives: bible

DOES GOD REALLY FORGET OUR SINS?

It is very popular for Christians to quote Psalm 103:12 – ” As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us“, with the idea that since east and west never meet, so our past sins (once repented of) will never again be brought up.  Also often quoted is Jeremiah 31:34 – “…for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more“, again, with the idea that our past sins are forever forgotten. While this makes us feel good, are these verses interpreted correctly, or have they been taken out of context? Remember, verses are part of a paragraph, which is part of a chapter, which is part of a book which is part of the Bible. The three most important words in interpreting Scripture are context, context, context.

What is conveniently forgotten when saying that our repented of sins are forgotten forever are passages like 2 Corinthians 5:10 –   For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” and Romans 14:10-2 : For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’  So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God”

You see, the texts that speak of our sins being forgotten forever by God must be interpreted in light of the texts that teach that all of us will give an account of ourselves to God for everything we did in this life “whether good or bad”. The word “judgment seat” mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:10 is the Greek word “Bema“, which means an elevated seat or a tribunal in which someone with authority sits and declares judgment. Since every human being will undergo some kind of judgment by our great God, biblical theology teaches that even believers will be judged. This judgment is not to determine our eternal destination in either heaven or hell, as this has been decided by Jesus on the cross, and true believers are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. This Bema seat judgment will be for rewards in heaven (these rewards, while not specifically detailed in Scripture, could pertain to what our service will be in our heavenly home). 

So, then what does Psalm 103:12 and Jeremiah 31:34 mean? They don’t mean that God gets amnesia when we repent and can never remember our sins. What they mean, when taken in context of Scripture, is that God no longer holds our sins against us in our relationship with Himself. Sin is a barrier that blocks our intimacy with God. When we, as born again believers in Jesus, sin, we offend our holy God and our relationship with Him is affected. We don’t lose our salvation, but our relationship with Him is marred. When we confess and repent, we are forgiven (1 John 1:9) and our intimacy is restored, even though the consequences of our sin are still experienced. However, we will have to give an account of our lives at the Bema Seat judgment for every word we uttered, every deed we did, every thought we pondered, and every motive that caused these words, actions, and thoughts. 

Makes us think twice about our lives, doesn’t it?

Do you see, just because born again believers are adopted into God’s family and are now His sons and daughters, it doesn’t mean we have the green light to do whatever we want, confess when we sin, and then go on our merry way. It does matter how we live. God requires His children to walk on the holiness journey, to live a life that is honoring and glorifying to Him, and to live in absolute surrender to Him. Modern Christianity has adopted a “cheap grace” attitude of living which is totally foreign to Scripture. This cheap grace pseudo-theology says “since we are saved by grace, our actions and words don’t really matter; we can do whatever we want, confess the behaviors that are sinful, and then just move on without any repercussion because, after all, God forgets them”. This is just wrong-headed theology. While it is true that we are saved by grace, the Bible also teaches that we must live in holiness and obedience to God’s moral standards (1 Peter 1;15-16). There are consequences to sin in this life, and we will have to give an account of our lives to God when our earthly lives are over.

How, then, shall we live, knowing that, at the end, we will give an account for every aspect of our lives to God? My friends, the only way to live this life is in humble, total surrender to God. To die to self and give the reigns of our lives to Him.  To cling to Him in brokenness and holy desperation acknowledging that we cannot do this on our own. We need Him, and need Him desperately. Living this way doesn’t mean that we will be perfect, but it will certainly have God’s approval. Yes, we will sin, as even Christians have a fallen nature, but when we do sin and immediately confess and repent, our loving Father picks us up, dusts us off, gives us a hug, and takes our hand to lead us on. Oh, He will allow the consequences of our sins to occur, but these serve us well in the future to remind us to run from temptation. What a merciful, loving God we call our Father!!

So, my friends, rejoice that, when we repent of our sins, God doesn’t hold them against us in our relationship with Him. But remember that we will, someday, give an Him an account for everything word, action, thought, and motive in our earthly journey. And, finally, live in surrender to Him so that you won’t be ashamed when you stand before Him at the Bema Seat judgment. 

THE MR. POTATO HEAD GOD

Remember Mr. Potato Head, the toy that let you grab a potato and create many different kinds of faces, depending on what you liked? It was fun, and your creativity was only limited by the number of combinations in the box. We felt empowered to create a potato man just as we desired.

Unfortunately, too many Christians have created what I call a “Mr. Potato Head” God. Many have, in their minds, created a God as they desire, a God that fits their lifestyle and makes them happy, instead of holding to a Biblically balanced knowledge of God.

Some have created a God who is like a benevolent old grandfather rocking in his chair in heaven, looking away at our sin because He is loving and just wants us to be happy. This God has dropped His absolute standards of morality because we are living in an ever-changing culture, and the measurement of happiness has changed with it. This God allows us to have premarital sex, live in a homosexual lifestyle, divorce our spouse for any reason, view pornography, cheat, lie, view unwholesome movies and television, and gossip without restraint. He is like our own cosmic bell hop who is at our beck and call to give us whatever makes us happy including health, wealth, and pleasure. This type of God can be loved but not truly honored, feared (respected) or worshiped. This view of God leads to a lifestyle characterized by license.

Others have created an angry God who is ready to stomp on us like a bug when we sin. This God takes great pleasure in making us squirm with guilt and fear, being constantly afraid that we will offend God and be slapped with His wrath. This is like a dictatorial father who rules with an iron fist and strikes terror in his kids. This type of God can be feared (honored), but cannot be truly loved with any depth because He is distant and unknowable. This view of God leads to a lifestyle characterized by legalism.

In both of these extremes, we have created a lesser God, a God of our own imagination, and a God who is far from the truth.

My friends, it is imperative that we have a Biblically balanced view of God – an understanding of God that is taken from His Word, not from our imagination.

What is a Biblically balanced view of God? What does the Bible tell us about our incredible God?

Our great, awesome God is :

  • Eternal (self existent) Exodus 3:13-14; Isaiah 43:13; Isaiah 44:6 ;1 Timothy 1:17
  • Omnipotent (all powerful)  Genesis 17:1; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26;   Revelation 19:6
  • Omnipresent (all present)  Psalm 139:7-10; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:23- 24
  • Omniscient (all knowing)  Psalm 147:5; Psalm 139:1-6; Romans 11:33-34
  • Sovereign (in total control of everything in the universe) Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 46:9-10; Psalm 103:19
  • Immutable (unchanging in His nature and attributes)  Numbers 23:19; Psalm 33:11; Malachi 3:6
  • Righteous/Just  Deuteronomy 32:4; James 1:13; Revelation 15:3-4
  • Truth  Psalm 31:5; Psalm 117:2; Titus 1:2
  • Merciful  Psalm 130:3; Psalm 145:8-9; 1 John 1:9
  • Love  John 3:16; 1 John 4:8;1 John 4:16
  • Holy  Genesis 32:30; Exodus 3:4-5; Isaiah 6:3-5; Revelation 4:8-11;   Revelation 5:14

This list is by no means exhaustive (and each attribute is a monumental study in itself), but gives the essential basics of God’s character, and there are many more verses to describe these attributes than the ones listed.

Going back to our two extremes mentioned above (the “Old Grandfather God” and the “Dictatorial Father God”) we must keep a Biblically balanced understanding of God when addressing these two views. Yes, God is loving, but He is also just. We cannot just focus on one or the other. And no where do we see these two meld together so wonderfully than at the cross.

You see, a righteous, holy God must punish sin, if He didn’t He wouldn’t be righteous and holy. And since we are all sinners, He must punish us for our sin (which, according to the Bible, is death – both physical and spiritual). Yet, he loves us with a perfect love and wants us to be with Him in heaven forever. Now, this creates a seemingly impossible dilemma. How will perfectly holy and just God punish us for our sin (being separated from Him forever in the torment of hell) and still retain His perfect love for us (being with Him forever in the splendors of heaven)? The answer is the cross.

On the cross Jesus carried our sins upon Himself and took the full, undiluted wrath of the Father for our (and all mankind’s) sins. Our sin was punished, so God’s justice and righteousness was rightly meted out. And, since His punishment for our sins was directed on His Son, His love for us remains intact and we, when we repent and trust in Jesus as Savior, go free.

At the cross God’s love and His justice collided, and the result is grace. How absolutely glorious is that? My friends, do you see that when we grasp a Biblically balanced  view of God, we then can enter into a relationship with Him that is both reverent and intimate; a relationship that is based on both mental ascent (knowledge) and emotion (love). This is a God that can be both worshiped and loved. A God who is worthy of our total devotion and praise, and a God who we can come to as Daddy (Abba). What an incredible God we have!!

Oh, my friends, dig deeply into Scripture in order to go deeply into intimacy with our God. Don’t create a Mr. Potato Head God that is of our own creation. Let Him reveal Himself to us through His word, and then fall at his feet in worship, adoration, and love.

SIMPLE CHRISTIANITY

I recently read about a major Christian university that commissioned a task force to, among other things, “provide clarity regarding the (school’s) identity as an evangelical Christian university” and to establish “a common understanding regarding behavioral expectations for fulfilling roles and responsibilities in light of university values.”  Wow, is it really that complex? You’re a Christian university, follow Biblical standards.

Additionally, one can go to a Christian bookstore and find books on how to measure church health, how to facilitate church growth, how to pray, how to worship, how to be relevant, etc, etc. Christianity is glutted with books that, with great detail and complexity, show you how to find yourself, how ro lose yourself, how to be a leader, how to raise perfect kids. and countless volumes on how to have the picture perfect Christian marriage. For those who are strapped for time, you can buy “instant” Christianity books – thirty days to this, forty days to that, one minute Bibles, and  discipleship as quick as microwaving instant oatmeal. All of these books, whether on spiritual disciplines, theological issues, or practical living, use Scripture references to back their claims. After reading these, one’s head can be spinning with facts, figures, “how to’s”, and loads of guilt for not doing what the “experts” say we should be doing..

Really, is living the Christian life really that complex? We sure have made something that is so beautiful, and so simple, into something that is so complicated.


Living for Jesus after you are born again is, at its core, really quite simple. It can be summed up in one word — “surrender.” Jesus made this clear in Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Surrender is giving up all right s to yourself to Him. He calls the shots, He is in control. Your life is totally His and you live in total obedience and devotion to Him.


When we are on the journey of surrender, our lives will be holy, we will be able to integrate spirituality into every facet of life, we will know how to pray and we will glorify Him. When we are growing in intimacy with Him, which is the natural byproduct of surrender, we will be hungry for His Word, and we will build a Biblical world view on life.  Take marriage for example. The Bible is very concise about it.  Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church (put her first and serve her); wives, submit to your husbands (allow him to be the leader of the home as God has ordained). Pretty simple.  Yes, I know that the marriage relationship can be complicated. But just think, what if every married couple surrendered to Jesus and followed these two simple rules.  Marriage would be in a lot better shape.  


If a church is filled with surrendered believers, Jesus becomes the main focus, and it will be alive and healthy; and what is alive and healthy will grow. We won’t need to hire consultants, assemble task forces or committees or follow complicated charts and graphs to see what we are supposed to do. Just surrender to Jesus and obey the Bible. That’s all we need.


If it is so simple, why has Christianity taken the complicated route? Probably because surrender is not very attractive in a culture where “self” is the focus of life. As I mentioned above, surrender is giving all rights to ourselves to Jesus, but we fight this because we want to call the shots and be in control. So we take matters in our own hands and end up making a mess of something that was intended to be so simple.


Following Jesus is simple — it’s all about surrender.

HOLY DESPERATION

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “desperation” as a loss of hope. When we think of someone who is desperate, our thoughts usually paint a picture of someone who does everything he or she can to either escape an unpleasant situation, or to hold on to something or someone at all costs. Desperation is often one of the more frightening experiences in life.

However, if you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, hopelessness is gone. You have the assurance of sins forgiven and eternal life. You have everything to hope in because of the cross and blood of Jesus, and thus you need not be desperate over the circumstances of life.  The One who saved you is the One watches over you and keeps you strong in the ups and downs of life.

However, I believe that every Christian needs to live in “holy desperation”.  By holy desperation, I don’t mean we should live in a state of empty spirituality. Holy desperation must not be viewed in the same context as the desperation defined in Webster’s.

Holy desperation means that you are passionate for God’s presence in your life. It is to come to the realization that without God, you are nothing and can do nothing. Holy desperation is having a hunger for God, not so much for what He can do for you, but because of who He is.

And who is He?  He is the all powerful, holy, righteous, merciful, sovereign lover of your soul. He created you, loves you, saved you, and keeps you. Without Him, you would be an empty shell heading like an out of control locomotive straight to hell. He is truly your all in all.

Unfortunately, too many Christians have no real desire for God’s presence in their everyday lives. They live in self reliance, self sufficiency, and self righteousness.  And the result? The shallowness of many believers. These folks are deceived by the false claims of worldly things and grasp tightly to these counterfeits. When anyone clutches tightly with both hands to materialism, pleasure, recreation, and to the almighty “self”, it is impossible to cling to God.

You can only cling to one thing at a time. If you try to cling to two or more things at a time, your strength and attention are divided, and you will lose your grip on everything and end up with empty hands. You cannot hold on to God and the world at the same time. The worldly things that we cling to only lead to hollow emptiness.

Well, then, you may be thinking, “what does it take to live on ‘holy desperation'”? It takes an absolute surrender to Jesus Christ. The relinquishing of all rights to yourself to Him. A brokenness that cries out your deepest need of Him in every aspect  of your life. A “falling in love” with Him that leads to an insatiable hunger for Him and His awesome, incredible presence. it takes dying to self so that He may live for you. Holy desperation means all these things, and nothing less.