“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” —Psalm 103:12
Sometimes I imagine that God has a big file on every person on earth. Maybe this file has some basic biographical data to remind God who we are. And then it definitely has a comprehensive list of every action we’ve taken, every word we’ve spoken, and every thought that’s crossed our minds. In this image, when God looks at one of us, he doesn’t so much see a human being as a record. It’s like each of us is a candidate for office, and God can (and will!) scrutinize each and every bit of our histories to figure out whether we’re more worthy of his vote or of federal prison.
Other times I imagine that God is kind of willfully ignorant. In this image, God basically just pretends that he doesn’t know the truth about us. It’s like God is an indulgent parent who can’t see what little monsters we are. It’s like all of us are looking around at each other—at our messes and hard-heartedness and foolishness and narcissism and cruelty—and wondering, “Can God really not see how awful we are? Does he really think we’re so lovable?” In this image, we’re miserable and despicable, but God just pretends that it isn’t so.
The image in Psalm 103 is quite different from either of these images. The God we meet in Scripture is not a prosecutor just waiting to drop a boatload of damning evidence in front of us. Nor is God a willful idiot pretending not to see what everyone else can see. No, the God of the Bible actually deals with sin. The God of the Bible sees sin much more clearly than we do. The God of the Bible acts to remove this sin.
And when God removes our transgressions from us, he doesn’t tuck them away in a neatly organized file cabinet for later reference. Rather, God removes our sin from us—and we should say as well that God removes us from our sin—as far as the east is from the west. In other words, there is now an infinite chasm between the one who was in bondage to sin and the one who is now free in the Messiah Jesus.
Our God is not a God of half measures. When God frees you, he doesn’t set you just outside the prison wall. Instead, God removes you from the prison of sin, buries that prison in a grave, and places you in the fresh air of new life.
So may each of us, today, remember that God is not passive. He is not delusional or foolish. He is not petty. God has removed our transgressions, freed us from bondage, and brought us into his new creation. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Praise be to the Lord.