Is it Really Gone?

Don’t look at my sins.
    Erase them all.
10 God, create a pure heart in me,
    and make my spirit strong again.
11 Don’t push me away
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Your help made me so happy.
    Give me that joy again.
    Make my spirit strong and ready to obey you.
13 I will teach the guilty how you want them to live,
    and the sinners will come back to you. (Psalm 51:9-13, Easy to Read Version)

Before ministry there was the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. In the From February of 1989 through May 1991 I made my living as an information services analyst with the FDIC. If you think back into that part of banking history, there were many, many bank closings. To further complicate things, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation got stuck with way too many collapsing savings and loan institutions. It was so bad, the FDIC ended up taking over the FSLIC so on top of the banks we were closing like crazy, we then started closing savings and loans too.

When I went out on closing teams (something I managed not to do very often) my job was whatever needed to do with the computers in the bank. On one closing I ended up doing something that I found out later wasn’t that uncommon. When we walked in the bank doors at closing time one Thursday afternoon (almost all bank closings were at closing time on Thursday in those days), the ants (employees) scurried out of sight (that is why I call them ants, they were running everywhere) headed to personal computers that were in out of sight offices all over the building. They keyed in the erase command and when it started they walked away. In some cases they came back and erased even more before we could find the computers and put a stop to it.

Why would they do that? They wanted to be difficult. Well, that is the best reason I can come up with.

Then I spent the remainder of the weekend going through those computers one at a time, one file at a time, with a recovery program and fixing them, recovering them. While the work was difficult, no doubt, easier to do today, with the available software, probably, they didn’t know enough enough to make them go away permanently, few did in those day. You should know when you put something on a computer, it may never really be gone.

So, if you erase something, is it really gone? If you think about that picture above, if you write something on a piece of paper and then try to erase it, there is a pretty good chance that handwriting, even in pencil is going to still show up. Unless someone writes very lightly on the page with the intention of it disappearing when erased you may never erase it all. Even if you get all the graphite from the pencil led out of the nooks and crannies you may never have all of it done. Wherever we are heavy-handed, lines might show though.

It is the same way with a computer. Erasing something doesn’t mean it will go away. If you ever kept all your passwords and banking information these days of the internet we have many things out there and some of it we want to get rid of it. It is said you can get a Facebook message off (supposedly) but you have to have both time and patience. For most of us, we put some things in our mailboxes or on our Facebook wall when we get home and fix whatever is wrong with it.

The truth is, it is always difficult, once something is done, to make it go away, to undo it. I read an article yesterday saying the same thing. It used the example of making something go away on Facebook. Once you type something and hit enter, you may never make it go away. Some people have paid a high price for a mistake they made and then tried to erase. It had not and would not go away. The author of the article then compared that to when we do something wrong to another person. Because we have memories, our actions will never go away. People will remember.

In today’s Bible reading, the psalmist asks God for forgiveness. He asks God to make his sins go away, never being noticed by anyone. We may get forgiveness from God, people around us may even forgive, God may forgive, but do these sins really go away? Not if we continue to talk about them, dwell on them? We also need to forgive ourselves.

But, the main question here still his, does God remember our sins? Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-15, ” 13 Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t think I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. 14 The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. 15 So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her.”

If Paul can forget what is behind him, could God not do the same? But, the writer of Hebrews gives these words.

10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
        after those days, says the Lord.
I will place my laws in their minds,
        and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11     And each person won’t ever teach a neighbor
    or their brother or sister, saying, “Know the Lord,
        because they will all know me,
            from the least important of them to the most important;
12         because I will be lenient toward their unjust actions,
            and I won’t remember their sins anymore.” (Hebrews 8:10-12)

Pay attention to the last verse, specifically the red type face. The psalmist asks God to forgive his sins. God will and the psalmist needn’t worry about God remembering again.

Rev. John Piper of “Desiring God” says,

“And I think probably it is the same with God. God remembers and doesn’t remember. That is, he calls to mind and applies, or he doesn’t call to mind, according to what is good for us and what is good for his glory.”

I like that.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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