Friday, June 6, 2014

Forgetfulness Or Remembrance?

Many of us Christians think that, when God sets us free from our sin, that He is telling us to forget it, or better yet to glory in it the fact that it happened. This comes from taking verses from the New Testament out of context (Romans 5:20 comes to mind; "...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more"). But He does not often give us such a command.

Here's a summary/exposition of some events; Jesus is preaching, and while doing so He talks of the hypocrisy and immaturity of "this generation," and says they're like children in a marketplace, talking to each other. He speaks of how John the Baptist, His own forerunner, came in abstinence (not just sexually, but in the dietary sense), and they said he had a demon; then they say, of Christ, that He's a glutton and a drunkard because He does not observe the same dietary restrictions--and they say He's a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
After this, He is invited into the house of a Pharisee, and a sinful woman comes in, and soaks His feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, then anoints His feet with her jar of perfume. Simon, the Pharisee, is thinking that if Jesus was truly a prophet that He would know what kind of sinner she was and that she was unclean and unfit to touch Him. But Jesus knew. He says, "Simon, I have something to say to you..." and proceeds to tell a parable about two debtors who can't pay back their dues, one who owed tenfold the other's debt, and the creditor cancelling their debts. Simon says it's the one who owed more that would love the creditor more. Jesus concurs.

Because Simon, a "holy man," had been brought up in a godly manner, lived according to the Law, had little to be forgiven of, he did not love Jesus as much as the woman who apparently didn't stop kissing His feet the entire time He was in Simon's house.
Simon didn't put oil on His head, didn't greet Him with a kiss (as was the custom), yet that woman, seeing herself unfit to put oil on His head, anointed His feet--if she were a prostitute, the "expensive perfume" was crucial in her craft, and the condition of her hair was no doubt just as important. Yet she matted her hair with mud (the tears and dirt), and poured her perfume on His feet because she was giving up what she had been.
She basically says, "I don't want to be like that anymore, so I lay all of it at Your feet." She surrenders everything for Him, not the following day, not a week from then, but at that very moment she poured it all at His feet.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)
She was crying because of her sins, because she had sinned against Him. These were not tears of joy, these were tears of remorse. She knew He was the friend of sinners (read: He was the friend of her). And she knew this was her only hope, this man who spoke with authority from God, who the Pharisees feared, who preached a legitimate Gospel ("Good News"). And because she knew that, a Godly sorrow welled up within her until she poured tears about the floor and His feet, and she worshiped Him by giving up her livelihood to anoint not even His head but just His feet.
He did not tell her to forget her sins. He said they were forgiven--that He would forget. But she remembered her sins. And wept. And that's what anointed Christ.

See, we all have sins, and we all have a past.
Those who have been found guilty and yet forgiven for, say, stealing five dollars worth of merchandise will not be as happy and thankful to the judge as the person who has been found guilty but forgiven of attempted murder. And, sometimes, to sear one's conscience, we forgive them without reprimanding them.
This can serve to create a higher sense of guilt than punishing them. What's more, tell them that someone else decided to take their punishment; this will (or at least should) stir them up inside to the point of their tears flowing enough to soak the feet of the person who bore their sins. And they will (again, should) turn from their crimes and even say, "See this way I was? He took the blame for me. Because of that, I set my old ways at His feet and now they're an evidence to His love for me. And He'll do the same for you."

But how do we reconcile ourselves to our pasts of sin? How do we live on after this sin? Is remembering it and being filled with grief in itself a sin? After all, the New Testament says that sinful flesh, that old person has died; is remembering that equivalent to bringing it back?
Having spent time dwelling on my past, hating myself for it, i felt like i was doing something wrong because so many pastors say our sins are forgiven so we shouldn't even think of them anymore. That we should only think of good things (as mentioned in the New Testament). And now we have pastures filled with flocks acting like spotless lambs, when it was the only spotless Lamb chosen from the vile, filthy herd that we are to take our filthiness. Yes, we have been washed, but we must never overlook the fact that we were filthy, mangy, and unclean lest we forget the weight of the sacrifice of the truly perfect One sacrificed for us.
What glory does a Redeemer receive when those He redeemed act as though they're not even the same thing as was bought back?

And even so, we still have people saying we're to live like it never happened because we're a new creation. I once heard someone say we shouldn't refer to ourselves as sinners forgiven, because it in a sense dims-down the beauty of God's creation, and that it makes Jesus' work on the cross seem like less because we still focus on what we were before. Are we truly called to forget our sins? How do we resolve this?

Simple. Remembrance. Visit the grave of your old self, and do so often. Don't try digging up the body.
The Bible does say we are a new creation. But our past happened. We're not to be liars, and we're not to be ignorant. Keep reminders of the old self's death. Never forget it.
I remember my sin. And i don't want to forget it. Because i know i've been forgiven much; i never want to forget, because i don't want to love Him less. I want to see and to dance on that grave marked, "Joshua David Isaacs," because i know that self is dead, but i don't want to act like he never was a part of me or that he never lived.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:62)
Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:31-32)
Remember. Be ashamed. Be confounded. Loathe yourselves. All the while, praise God for Christ's sacrifice!

And what's a blog post without some lyrics?
Won't You please come and remind me?
I need to know what I've become. I need to know where I've come from.
Take me from this madness, take me from this pain.
Take me from this sadness, but don't take my memories.
 ("Memory" by Decyfer Down, from the album, "Scarecrow")

No comments:

Post a Comment