In a recent evangelistic meeting that I attended, the speaker made a statement that I am curious about the accuracy of. The statement is paraphrased as follows: “The scripture in Psalm 103:12 that says as far as the east is removed from the west so hath god removed my transgressions, is only applicable at the time that you are born again.”
The speaker said that “God will forgive us of sin, but after we are saved all sins from that point on though forgiven will not be forgotten.” He said that there will be punishment of these sins even if they are confessed. I have never heard this concept before. What is your insight?
Psalm 103:8-12 says, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
The speaker that you heard is greatly mistaken, and has either not thought through his statement very carefully, or else he is teaching false doctrine on purpose. You would have to talk to him to find out which is true.
First, Psalm 103:12 does not even mention God “forgetting” our sins, just that He removes them from us an “infinite distance” away. It is Hebrews 10:17 that mentions the truth about God “forgetting” our sins. But let us look at the context of that verse.
Hebrews 10:10-18 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; AND THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”
The whole point is this, IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, THERE WAS REMEMBRANCE OF SINS MADE EVERY YEAR. Why? Because ANIMAL BLOOD CANNOT FORGIVE SINS. Hebrews 10:1-4 says, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. FOR IT IS NOT POSSIBLE THAT THE BLOOD OF BULLS AND OF GOATS SHOULD TAKE AWAY SINS.”
Please remember that people in the Old Testament were never saved by offering animal sacrifices. Salvation has always been by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, THEY LOOKED AHEAD to His coming to take away their sins. In the New Testament, WE LOOK BACK to when He did die and pay the penalty for our sins. In all ages, salvation has been by faith. Please refer to the question on this web site in regard to “How were people saved in the Old Testament?”
You will notice that of those animal sacrifices it was said in the passage above, “…can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Why was that conclusion made? Because if those animal sacrifices did make the comers perfect (that is truly and totally forgiven forever), then there would have been no need to continue those sacrifices over and over again. Read the whole passage again, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. FOR THEN WOULD THEY NOT HAVE CEASED TO BE OFFERED? BECAUSE THAT THE WORSHIPPERS ONCE PURGED SHOULD HAVE HAD NO MORE CONSCIENCE OF SINS. BUT IN THOSE SACRIFICES THERE IS A REMEMBRANCE AGAIN MADE OF SINS EVERY YEAR. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins..”
And there you have the phrase, “REMEMBRANCE AGAIN MADE OF SINS.” Why were those sins remembered and not forgotten? “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” SINS ARE REMEMBERED UNTIL THERE IS A SACRIFICE THAT WILL TRULY FORGIVE THEM. And that sacrifice was made when the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross.
Now notice the verses that follow what we have just seen. Hebrews 10:5-18 says, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but A BODY HAST THOU PREPARED ME: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. AND EVERY PRIEST STANDETH DAILY MINISTERING AND OFFERING OFTENTIMES THE SAME SACRIFICES, WHICH CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY SINS: BUT THIS MAN, AFTER HE HAD OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVER, SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HATH PERFECTED FOR EVER THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; AND THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE. NOW WHERE REMISSION OF THESE IS, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.”
When Jesus died on that cross, there was no more remembrance of the sins of those that had, or that would yet, place their faith and trust in Him alone for their salvation. It was at that point, that all sacrifices ceased. “AND THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE. NOW WHERE REMISSION OF THESE IS, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.”
You stated, “The speaker said that ‘God will forgive us of sin, but after we are saved all sins from that point on though forgiven will not be forgotten.’ He said that there will be punishment of these sins even if they are confessed.”
After looking at the above passages, you can readily see that THERE IS NO SUCH THING as having your SINS FORGIVEN now, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. If they are not forgotten, then there is need for another sacrifice to be made. That would be teaching the false doctrine that Jesus’ one sacrifice was not enough, but that suffering on our part is yet needed to fully atone for our sins. That is nothing short of the false doctrine of a “works salvation,” which is not salvation at all. That is the same error as Catholic doctrine which states that it is Jesus’ sacrifice, PLUS your suffering in purgatory for a while, etc., that finally results in your sins being forgiven. The evangelist that you have heard may not realize the very serious doctrinal error that he is making. He may be like so many evangelists who make dramatic statements to get people to come forward.
The time for a Christian to fear IS NOW. If we sin now, after we are saved, and are not willing to repent and forsake that sin, IT IS NOW that we will be chastised for those sins, not after we die. All you have to do is read on in this same chapter to see that. Hebrews 10:26-31 says, “FOR IF WE SIN WILLFULLY AFTER THAT WE HAVE RECEIVED THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, THERE REMAINETH NO MORE SACRIFICE FOR SINS, BUT A CERTAIN FEARFUL LOOKING FOR OF JUDGMENT and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, THE LORD SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE. IT IS A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD.”
Hebrews 12:1-13 teaches us WHEN THAT CHASTISEMENT COMES, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVETH HE CHASTENETH, AND SCOURGETH EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVETH. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. FURTHERMORE WE HAVE HAD FATHERS OF OUR FLESH WHICH CORRECTED US, AND WE GAVE THEM REVERENCE: SHALL WE NOT MUCH RATHER BE IN SUBJECTION UNTO THE FATHER OF SPIRITS, AND LIVE? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
You will notice that CHASTISEMENT IS FOR THE PURPOSE OF HAVING A CHANCE TO REPENT OF OUR SIN, AND TO THUS LIVE. I Corinthians 11:31,32 says, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” Chastisement NEVER pays for our sin. Only Jesus’ perfect, sinless blood can pay for our sin. When we get saved, ALL of our sins; past, present, and future, are forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.” Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering he hath PERFECTED FOR EVER THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED.”
Then what is to hinder a Christian from sinning as much as he wants? It is because of the CHASTISEMENT THAT HE WILL NOW FACE. If we are truly His children, then He is going to chastise us NOW when we get out of line, and will not repent.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, all of our works (the works of Christians) will go through the fire. Notice that it is NOT the Christian who faces the fire, but his works. I Corinthians 3:11-15 says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; EVERY MAN’S WORK shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because IT SHALL BE REVEALED BY FIRE; and THE FIRE SHALL TRY EVERY MAN’S WORK OF WHAT SORT IT IS. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, HE SHALL RECEIVE A REWARD. If any man’s work shall be burned, HE SHALL SUFFER LOSS: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
You will notice that a Christian does NOT receive rewards based upon the NUMBER of his works, but the SORT of his works. Motives and reasons will be weighed when considering the Christian’s works. If some (or even all) of a Christian’s works are found to be of the wrong sort (in other words, not done with the right motive or reason), then that Christian IS NOT GOING TO BE PUNISHED AND SUFFER FOR THOSE SINS. Jesus was punished and suffered and died on the cross for all of our sins. What is going to happen there is that if a Christian’s works are found to be right, then HE WILL BE REWARDED; and if not, HE WILL SUFFER THE LOSS OF A REWARD for that work.