April 12, 2013
Hebrews 10:16, 17
Have you ever read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan? Published in 1678, it is available today in modern English. It is worth the read! Christian, representing everyman, journeys from his home in the City of Destruction – a journey of many days and hard trials – to the Celestial City (heaven). He is seen at first carrying a heavy burden strapped to his back – his sins. After other attempts at relieving himself of this heavy burden, he and his fellow-travelers finally arrive at the cross of Jesus Christ. They “…came to the place where Christian’s burden fell off his back and tumbled into a sepulcher. Here then they made a pause; and here also they blessed God.” But it is two thirds through the story before Christian is able to be free of his burden. It is only when he comes to the cross, his faith solely directed to what Jesus accomplished thereon, that the sins that were so heavy upon his back were taken from him and buried forever from sight.
Wouldn’t that be something you and I would desire in our own lives – our sins gone from being such a burden, never to be seen again? That is the subject of the last several blogs, and this one also. Hebrews 10:16 & 17 (quoted from Jeremiah 31:33, 34) shows forth the gem of our sins forever gone:
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord,
I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their
sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Technically, this gem applies to Israel in the future, but the application of it is a current reality for Christians ever since the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
First of all, the Lord had to perform heart surgery on those to whom He would reveal Himself. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, and passed that sin nature to all of their progeny (Romans 5:12), man has naturally had a heart (a nature) that was stone-cold to the things of the Lord. So before God could “…put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them…”, He had to do something drastic! According to Ezekiel 36:26, He proclaimed, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” That new heart would be receptive to the Holy Spirit. It is upon that “heart of flesh” God would write “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus….” (Romans 8:2).
But the God-given desire to do His will is just the first part of this gem. The second part is that “…their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” God will not hold in His mind all the sins and iniquities that we have committed by our own wrong choices!
Now what does this mean for me? With my compulsive/addictive personality, I have struggled with what old-timers called “besetting sins”. These are the sins that we fall into again and again, even as Christians. I thank God for His gracious deliverance of many of the “besetting sins” that plagued my life through the years. Yes, He can free us from even ingrained habits and addictions! When I would find myself in the slough of sin again, I would come to Him in confession. And this is how I imagine the conversation went as I began to understand this gem of Hebrews 10: 16 & 17:
Me – “God, I did it again!”
God – “What did you do, my child?”
Me – “The same old thing, Lord, I did it again!”
God – “What did you do, my child?”
Me – “God, you know what I did! It is the same sin I have fallen into so many times!”
God – “Tell me, what did you do?”
Me – “You’re omniscient, Lord! You know everything! You know what I did!”
God – “I have chosen to forget all those past sins you have brought before me. Now,
what did you do?”
All those past sins are gone, paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross in my place! Now, when I stand before God, it is like I have never sinned before! This sin I am currently confessing – though it be a “besetting sin” I have committed time and again – it is like I have sinned for the very first time!!! And when I confess this one to my Father, it will also be gone – from my record, from my burden, from His memory!
I know He is God, and being God He is able to do things we can’t. He chooses to forget our sins and iniquities, and He will never bring them to mind again. We, on the other hand, do not have such powerful control over our minds! But when we bring up our past sins, or our enemy reminds us of them, we can say with the authority of God’s Word, “My sins are gone – paid for by Jesus – and God doesn’t even remember them anymore! So why should I? I am Forgiven and Free!”