“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute (count or reckon) sin” – Romans 4:8
The happiest people, the blessed people, are the ones who know the truth of this verse – God is not counting sins! In other words, God is not keeping a daily tally or record. I counted mine since Monday: a total of twenty four and none at all on Sunday. I reckon that must be a record – well for me anyway! Oh, I did forget though, ‘what is not of faith is sin’, so there may be a few more that I missed – sorry!
Thankfully, I believe that there isn’t some divine sin chart that the angels assigned to you are examining daily. One angel turns to the other with an anxious frown: “Oh dear! February was a bad month for Paul, what are we going to do?”
Does God keep records?
I mean, does God reset the sin counter back to zero when we finally decide to list our sins and confess them before him one by one? Do the the angels breath a sigh of relief? Is that really how grace works?
Now, God does keep records – indeed there are many books in heaven:
Rev 20: 12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
God even records your tears:
Psalm 56:6 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”
What’s more, if your are a believer your name is in the book of life – that beats an entry in Who’s Who!
Philippians 4:3 “whose names are in the book of life”
You are forgiven!
The wonderful truth of salvation by faith in Christ is: God has already forgiven all our sins past, present and future. The count stays on zero. Some people don’t like this idea, it seems a bit reckless of God, I mean surely everybody is going to abuse this hyper-grace?
Dr Michael Brown writes: “The fundamental deception in hyper-grace is that all of your future sins are forgiven in advance.”
However Dr Michael Brown, I believe that this is in fact the glorious truth of the Gospel and anything less than this is not the Gospel. If you want to call it hyper, super or exceedingly abundant, as Paul describes it somewhere, I don’t really care. The fact is, only believing that your past sins are forgiven (up to the point of confession I presume), is a much inferior message relying on the performance of the believer to somehow stay in the grace of God by the means of perfect confession and repentance.
On the other hand, if Romans 4:8 means what it says, you really don’t have to keep short records with God because – there aren’t any!
1 John 2:12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”
Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Our sins are forgiven. We have redemption. In other words the debt of sins in its totality has been paid for at the cross. God is not topping up the balance every time we sin to cover the sin withdrawal. No, you are declared righteous or justified – for ever and ever and ever!
What happens when we sin?
What happens though when you do sin? The Apostle John acknowledges that possibility in 1 John 2:1:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense: even once) we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
The answer, is not as some teach: you lose your salvation; you are whisked out into outer darkness until you say sorry; you are barred from the presence of God; you are marked as a naughty backslidden christian under God’s severe discipline.
No, a true believer doesn’t pretend that he or she doesn’t sin. In fact, the gnostic heretics infiltrating the early church, said heretical things like: sin doesn’t matter because it is just an illusion not reality. Of course, sin is no illusion, it’s very real. Real enough for Jesus to come in physical flesh to pay the terrible price for human sin.
The Apostle John countered gnostic teaching by saying:
1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:10: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
Therefore, a believer is one who walks in the light. We admit our sins. We never hide or pretend that sin doesn’t exist!
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Come to the light of the world!
This is illustrated in the Gospels where it is seen that they who are regarded as sinners, in fact are attracted to Jesus the light of the world like moths dancing around a bright light!
John 3:20 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
On the contrary, the self-righteous pharisees are repelled by Jesus because He reveals their hypocrisy. In Luke 18:9 Jesus pointedly tells the story of the Pharisee and the publican going up to the temple.
The Pharisee, full of himself, thinks he’s righteous and without fault before God and proceeds to read out a list of his good deeds (the religious like to reckon their own righteousness). His prayers however don’t go any higher than the ceiling! The publican on the other hand doesn’t read a list (of even his sins), he just smites his breast in anguish and says: “have mercy on me a sinner”. This is true confession and it says he goes down to his house justified. He has come to the light and the light has cleansed his heart.
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth (continually) us from all sin.”
Relationship with God is not broken when we sin
Therefore, true believers live in that light because we know that it is the light and grace of Jesus Christ that cleanses, changes and delivers us. Thankfully, when we sin, relationship is not broken; that would be like the doctor refusing a patient entry to the hospital because they are sick!
No, it doesn’t matter whether your sin is adultery, stealing, lying, or watching pornography, it is the light not the darkness that you need and Jesus the advocate (defence lawyer not the prosecution) is already at work on your behalf (1 John 2:1).
So, when we come to Jesus he shines upon us, not to expose and shame but to cleanse, heal and deliver.
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”
Consequently, in 1 John 1:7 (referred to earlier), it’s because we are in the light that the blood of Jesus cleanses (continually) from all sin. It’s like being under a sun lamp that erases sin (darkness).
What about others?
What about others though? When we sin against other people then maybe they are counting our sins! It’s no good saying to the police officer, when he’s caught you speeding: “It’s ok God has forgiven me so you ought to let me off”. No, when we sin against others we should seek to put things right if we can.
James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
In conclusion, God is not acting like a divine bookkeeper keeping records of every sin. Neither is the Holy Spirit checking our sin record like a divine tax inspector from HMRC sent to make sure we’re not cheating on our tax return.
No, we are free from a ‘divine tax inspection’ and this means, we are released as sons and daughters to enjoy our relationship with God and actually become children of light! Thankfully, we no longer have to tread carefully in God’s presence afraid of the next sin we may commit!
Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”
Awake to righteousness
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