The God of the Bible is omnipotent. Man looketh on the outward appearance; God looketh into the heart. According to the estimate of some men, God has looked into the hearts of more than twenty billion individuals. God has an infallible record of all of the thoughts, words and deeds of all who have ever inhabited the earth. These thoughts, words and deeds have either been righteous or unrighteous. There are two kinds of righteousness; “self-righteousness” and God-righteousness”, or “human righteousness” and “Divine righteousness.” In God’s Divine ledger, the righteous acts of the, self-righteous are posted on the debit side; the righteous acts of the “God-righteous” are posted on the credit side. But what about the unrighteous acts? What is it that God forgets not? Let us turn to God’s Word for our answer:
“WHEN I SAY TO THE RIGHTEOUS THAT HE SHALL SURELY LIVE: IF HE TRUST TO HIS OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND COMMIT INIQUITY, ALL HIS RIGHTEOUSNESSES SHALL NOT BE REMEMBERED; BUT FOR HIS INIQUITY THAT HE HATH COMMITTED, HE SHALL DIE FOR IT.” EZEKIEL 33:13.
“AND THEIR SINS AND INIQUITIES WILL I REMEMBER NO MORE . . . HAVING THEREFORE BOLDNESS TO ENTER INTO THE HOLIEST BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS . . . LET US DRAW NEAR WITH A TRUE HEART, IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH.” HEBREWS 10:17 AND 19.
“FOR GOD IS NOT UNRIGHTEOUS TO FORGET YOUR WORK AND LABOR OF LOVE, WHICH YE HAVE SHOWED TOWARD HIS NAME, IN THAT YE HAVE MINISTERED TO THE SAINTS, AND DO MINISTER. AND WE DESIRE THAT EVERY ONE OF YOU DO SHOW THE SAME DILIGENCE TO THE FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE UNTO THE END.” HEBREWS 6:10 AND 11.
No Divine truth is more clearly taught in the Bible than the fact that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8. “To him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt.” Romans 4:3 and 4. The righteous, or religious, acts of a self-righteous man are not acceptable unto God; such acts are dead works. Christ died to save religious men from dead works. Hebrews 9:14. Humanity is willing to ascribe praise and honor to the philanthropist who endows the hospital for the relief and cure of the sick and helpless, who provides food for the hungry and clothing for the naked, who finances the asylum for the orphans; for all who minister to the physical needs of the unfortunate. Such benevolences are truly praiseworthy. But God says: “if he trust in his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”
Thus we see that some benefactions that are remembered by men are forgotten by God. “Man’s ways are not God’s ways.” “There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Whether or not we may be dogmatic in the statement that the good deeds of an unsaved man displease God, we may be sure that the unrighteous or selfrighteous man never receives credit or reward from God for his acts of righteousness.
How about Cornelius, the just and religious man? To him Peter preached “in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him.” Acts 10:34 to 37. While it is true that Cornelius had to hear from Peter’s mouth “words whereby he and all his house should be saved”, yet Cornelius was by no means a self-righteous man. Cornelius prayed to God alway: he was a just and devout, Godfearing man, who gave much alms to God’s people. Cornelius was not trusting to his own righteousness. From the record, we can say that Cornelius believed the gospel the first time he heard it. He was apparently eager to be saved. He was conscious of his unworthiness and his need of grace.
The “sin” controversy between God and man is of a very serious nature, and must be entirely settled before God can give credit for deeds. Only righteous deeds will be rewarded by God. The doer must be righteous before his deeds are righteous in God’s sight. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Because all have sinned, death has passed upon all men. All men by nature are dead in trespasses and sins. Some dead men are more religious than others. Some dead men do not sink as deep into immoral habits and lustful practices as do others. Some dead men do not possess and manifest the same traits of gentleness, kindness, patience and charity as do others. But with respect to life and salvation, all dead men, religious and irreligious, have the same need. Regardless of the language used, the theological terms employed or the doctrine presented, the sinner’s need is Christ. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” He said, “I am the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Christ died to abolish death and bring life to humanity in the Gospel. II Timothy 1:9. It was Christ who said that believers “have passed out of death into life.” John 5:24. He gave to His servant Paul this message: “The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. “You hath He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1 to 5.
The sinner’s first need is life and righteousness. Christ is the believer’s life and righteousness. He is available for all. On the cross of Calvary this sinless Christ was made sin that sinners might be made the righteousness of God in Him. II Corinthians 5:21. He had power to lay down His life and take it up again. John 10:17 and 18. Christ received the sinner’s wages; death. Christ on the cross received the penalty for sin, when He by the grace of God tasted death for every man. Hebrews 2:9. Then by His inherent Divine omnipotence He was able to abolish death, Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Hebrews 9:26.
The believing sinner is redeemed by the precious blood of Christ: “in whose Blood we have redemption even the forgiveness of sins.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” When God forgives the sinner, it is because his sins have been dealt with, have been put away. When the worshipper came to the Lord, under the Old Covenant, his sins were covered by the blood of the sacrifice which spoke of the once-for-all sacrifice of the coming Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our sins are not covered; they are put away. We are pardoned, exonerated, freed, forgiven and justified, by the blood of the sinless Son of God. And our God, who has the perfect Divine right to forgive the sinner who receives Christ as his worthy Substitute, says: “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17.
SINS REMEMBERED NO MORE
The unbeliever’s good deeds are not remembered. The believer’s sins are not remembered. This is the way God does things. He is just and the justifier of every one that accepts the redemptive work of His well-beloved Son. Romans 3:24 to 26. God’s grace is marvelous. We are saved from sin because God is rich in mercy and great in love. Ephesians 2:4 and 5. The believer is in Christ. God cannot find fault with the helpless sinner who has taken refuge in Christ. “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ.” “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” It is all by and of grace. Believing sinners are the recipients of God’s grace. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.”
One of our difficulties is, that we have no way of measuring the grace of God, or of putting the true value on the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is sovereign. God is just and holy. Christ received the just penalty for sin. He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. By His vicarious work of redemption God can and does forgive and forget and justify the penitent, believing sinner.
Another difficulty with us is, that we inventory our blunders, weaknesses and faults, that we consider our unworthiness, and try to measure God by human standards. Because we cannot forget our history of sin, our miserable past record, because of our present shortcomings, because we find it so difficult to forgive others, and especially to forget their offenses against us, our minds and hearts are filled with doubts as to the obliteration and obviousness of our sins in God’s sight. But we should believe God, take His Word at full face value: “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Gone forever. Forever put away, by the grace of God and the work of Christ. God looked, and still looks, upon His Son, obedient unto death and exalted to His own right hand, where He now appears in heaven for us; and we should do the same thing; “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” When we look at ourselves, or at others, we will be disappointed, dissatisfied and doubtful. But not when we look unto Him who loved us and gave himself for us; unto Him who is our redemption, holiness, righteousness, peace, hope and life. Such a look will make us confident of this very, thing that He that hath begun a good work in us will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ, As Christians we should obey Ephesians 4:32; “And be ye kind one to another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” We should do this, not to influence or cause God to forgive us our sins, but because, for Christ’s sake, He has already done that.
Just this morning I had a very sad message from a sorrowing, broken-hearted wife. Two weeks ago she and her husband received Christ. They were in earnest, truly convicted by the Holy Spirit. After struggling and doubting they believed the gospel of redemption and were both saved. They acknowledged that God had put away their sins, because Christ had shed His blood to make forgiveness possible. The wife had already confessed her unfaithfulness to her husband. Yesterday he told her that he could not forgive her, and that they would have to separate. Surely this is disobedience to the Word of God. But God is the God of all grace, and in spite of the determination of this man to give up his wife, God will not give him up. His sins have been judged and put away by the Lord. The sinner is forgiven; his past has been blotted out and forgotten. How blessed it should be to know that God is not dealing with us, under grace, on the terms of the “Our Father” prayer; “if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Because of the value of the blood of Christ, because of the superabounding, all sufficient grace of God, the believer is exhorted to draw nigh in full assurance of faith. If we are trusting in the redemptive work of Christ, if we are depending upon the grace of God, surely we should be delivered from doubts and fears, from any feeling of insecurity. God wants us to have assurance, full assurance.
TO FORGET YOUR WORK AND LABOR OF LOVE
As God will not remember the sins of the justified sinner, He will not remember the good deeds of the unbelieving sinner. But God will not forget the good deeds of the believer. “Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58. “Not in vain in the Lord.” Does Job serve God for naught? No. No Christian serves God for naught. “Every man shall be rewarded according to his works.” Matthew 16:26. As there will be rewards for the saved, undoubtedly there will be different degrees of punishment for the unsaved, although, all unbelievers are lost.
God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” I Corinthians 3:14. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
No sinner can lay his foundation. No sinner needs to lay a foundation; the foundation has been laid. The only works that are “good works” in God’s sight are the works that are built on the foundation. Faith in the good work of the Lord Jesus Christ is the believing sinner’s passport to heaven. No other works are necessary to get the believer into heaven. But every good work done by the believer, who is in Christ, will be rewarded by God, if that good work is done in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. God will not forget a single deed done by the redeemed sinner in the Name of His Son.
Therefore believers are urged, “that ye be not slothful.” “Shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.” Hebrews 6:12 and 13. As the believer should have no doubt that all of his sins have been put away by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, he should have no doubt as to receiving a full reward for every service of love, for every sacrifice, for all suffering in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. “In the world ye shall have tribulation”, “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.” Let us not weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.
“If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” I Peter 2:20.
If we suffer with Christ we shall reign with Him. We should work for Him, walk for Him, witness for Him, wait for Him. We should constantly be occupied with Christ and for Christ, and we shall not regret when God proves in that day that He shall not forget.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.