Christianity 201

June 15, 2011

Removing Sin’s Stains

Invariably, when lists are compiled of what some consider goofy hymn lyrics, someone always nominates:

My sin, Oh the bliss of this glorious thought.

It is of course a little bit out of context; the hymn writer isn’t reveling sin; a better punctuation would be

My sin (oh the bliss of this glorious thought)
My sin not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more…

Or an option to the parenthesis would be what are called em-dashes:

My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought —
My sin not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more…

The writer is rejoicing in the thought of sins taken away.   Other writers of that era wrote

You ask why I am happy, so now I tell you why
Because my sins are gone
And when I meet the skeptics* who ask me where they are
I say, ‘My sins are gone.’


Mercy there was great and grace was free
Pardon there was multiplied to me
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary

Of course, we don’t write those types of lyrics these days, and there is a whole imagery of sin forgiven and forgotten that is missing from contemporary books as well.  Corrie Ten Boom once wrote that God places our sins in the “sea of forgetfulness” and then put up a sign that said “no fishing.”   I once put it this way, “Forgetfulness is a human failing but it’s a divine attribute.”

Some contemporary authors have written that in fact God is capable of retrieving our sins from his celestial “hard drive” if He were to so choose, but doesn’t do so unless we happen to bring it up.  I think that misses the point of what we find in Psalm 103:11

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (NLT)

And as far as sunrise is from sunset,  he has separated us from our sins. (MSG)

But experience is often a different kind of teacher:  Sometimes we do in fact wallow in our past sins.  It’s a technique of the Enemy to focus on our past failures so that we’re blinded to the truth.  The group Casting Crowns has a song that says,

I start the day, the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time again your truth is drowned out
By the storm I’m in

What we need to do in these moments is remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness to his promise to cast our sin into oblivion.

Romans 8 — the passage many of you know as “There is therefore now no condemnation” begins like this in The Message:

…Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death…

And then there are Jesus words in John 8 to the woman caught in the act of adultery:

The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

~Paul Wilkinson

*Skeptics is how we would say it today; the original lyric is scoffers.