Remember Your Sins
I’m being so encouraged, and at the same time having my heart thoroughly challenged, as I’ve been reading Joe Thorn’s Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself.
For those unfamiliar with the book, Joe begins by simply explaining what he means by “preaching to yourself”, and then he includes 48 examples of what it might look like to preach to yourself; or as they are in the book, 48 actual notes to self.
If you’re anything like me then I’d suggest getting a copy. Not only is Note To Self a great way to be reminded of the Gospel (I confess that the Gospel is the doctrine I struggle the most to believe), Joe’s notes would be terrific in helping you pray the Gospel too.
Note To Self can be read cover-to-cover, and is also ideal to be read note by note as a daily devotional.
As an example of Joe’s writing, and to encourage you in the Gospel this Tuesday, here’s a note written in response to the words of Psalm 32:5.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. — PSALM 32:5
Yes, part of your confidence before God is that he has forgiven you of your sins and remembers them no more. But sometimes you have a hard time forgetting all that you have done wrong. Of course, God doesn’t actually forget your sins. He remains omniscient, knowing everything all the time. Saying God does not remember your sins is a way of saying he will not hold them against you as judge. He has thoroughly forgiven you in Jesus. You need to hear that. Those who believe in Jesus are truly forgiven. Yet, recalling your sins can lead to a perverted relationship between guilt and pride, which is a very popular method for dealing with the feeling of guilt. It works like this.
You are aware of the sins you have committed and consequently feel guilt—paralyzing guilt that says you are unworthy of even talking to God. Seriously, some of the things you have done are pretty messed up. As you consider your sins and feel their weight, you decide to embrace the guilt and even heap it on. Then, only after you have felt sufficiently bad about all that you have been and done do you begin to feel better about it all. It’s as if amassing feelings of guilt becomes a perverted kind of penance in which you pay for your transgression by making yourself feel bad—as if your guilt is a means of getting clean. It may be hard to see it, but you can probably remember times when you felt as if you could not approach God because of your sin. So you waited, heaped on the guilt, and after you felt bad enough and sorry enough, you began to try to draw near to God as if you had somehow become more acceptable.
Look, the memory of your sins is no cause to beat yourself up and wallow in guilt. Instead, it should lead you to rejoice in the redemption you have in Jesus. So you will (and should) remember your sins but not be plagued by them. As a Christian you must see them in light of the cross. You need to remember your sins for what they are—lawlessness that stemmed from a heart that hated God. It wasn’t just what you did; it was what you were. And in remembering these sins, you hold fast to Jesus. This remembrance does not encourage you to shrink back from God but to draw near, seeking him because of the hope of the gospel. When you remember your sins, you learn humility, love Jesus, and make much of the gospel.
How do you respond when you remember your sin? It says a lot about how much you grasp the good news of the Gospel.
My prayer this Tuesday is, “Lord, help me to ‘learn humility, love Jesus, and make much of the gospel.'”