“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12
One of the most beautiful passages pertaining to God’s forgiveness is found in Psalm 103:12. David poetically expresses the magnitude of God’s gracious act of forgiveness toward sinners. But why does David (by the inspiration of God) choose the words, “As far as the east is from the west.” Would not “as far as the north is from the south.” suffice or carry the same significance? The answer to that question is that it certainly would not; for the words “east and west” illustrate far greater the intensity of God’s forgiveness than “north and south.” Allow me to illustrate this further.
Imagine for a moment taking a globe of the earth and running your finger longitudinally from north to south. As you run your finger down from the North Pole to the South Pole, you are moving south. And if you were to circle back up on the other side of the globe, you would then be moving your finger northward back to your place of origination, the North Pole. But this exercise cannot be duplicated from a latitudinal standpoint. Imagine running your finger along the equator traveling east. As you circle the globe, you are constantly traveling east, even as you meet back at your point of origination. You could try this exercise by switching directions. By doing so, you would be continually traveling west, and you would still be moving west even as you circled back around and arrived at your point of origination. Unlike north and south, there would never a time that you would run your finger around the globe from a latitudinal position and have the east catch up with the west so to speak, or vice versa. In this exercise, we see demonstrated “the latitude of God’s forgiveness.” God removes our sins from us as far as the east is to the west!
But oftentimes paired with Psalm 103:12 is Jeremiah 31:34 where God says, “For I will forgive your iniquity, and your sin I will remember no more.” This truth is expanded by the author of Hebrews. He expresses God’s promise of the new covenant with His people. He writes, “this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,” he then says, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. ”These passages are not to be interpreted as some form of divine amnesia; for God does not experience memory loss. God knows everything, even our past sins. These verses simply mean that when we have been forgiven of our sins, God no longer holds those sins against us. They are no longer charged to our account. It is not that He forgets our sins; rather it is that He graciously chooses not to remember them.
Remember, how well you understand these timeless truths on God’s forgiveness will be evident by how well you forgive others. The measure of grace that you demonstrate to those who have sinned against you will reveal how well you comprehend God’s act of gracious forgiveness towards you (Matthew 18:21-35). We are all sinners in need of forgiveness, thus we should forgive others because the Lord has forgiven us. We are all sinners, and our sin is an offense to God (Romans 3:10, 3:23). But even though we do not deserve forgiveness for our sin, God graciously demonstrated His love toward us by making forgiveness of sin available through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). These are just some of my personal thoughts of the miracle of God’s forgiveness. Take time out today and spiritually feed your soul upon these truths.