WHEN GOD BLOTS OUT OUR SINSby: Elder Lawrence Nelson
It is customary to greet one another with the words, "Happy New Year" at the beginning of a new year. However, as we daily witness the terrible conditions developing worldwide, one may hesitate to extend the usual expression, "Happy New Year." Yet this is the time when millions make new resolutions to overcome bad habits and try to forget past failures expecting better days in the coming year.
As we reflect upon the new year, have you considered that God is looking for a complete change in the lives of His saints? According to His prophetic time clock which has never failed, He will soon proclaim greetings not of a "Happy New Year" but greetings of a "Happy Eternity." This will be made possible by the pouring out of the Latter Rain, enabling His people to experience a totally new kind of godly happiness. When this happens we shall forget our past sinful lives and live forever without any remembrance of sin. What's more, God also will join with us in this wonderful, new experience for He too will forget our past sins and enjoy the fellowship with His redeemed family.
Inspiration puts it in these words, "The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in unshadowed beauty and perfect joy declare that God is love." Great Controversy p. 678.
Let us pray. Loving Father, as we prepare for the outpouring of the Latter Rain, we realize that only by Thy divine power can we be ready for a glorious future of sinless living. In this study please open our spiritual eyesight as to what we must do and what God is ready to do for us. In His dear name we plead, Amen.
Let us begin with a very dramatic statement revealing the power of love and what the cross has made possible for each of us. I am reading from Isaiah 43:25. It is the voice of Jesus speaking, "I even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." Oh what amazing grace! Throughout the scriptures we find God continually telling us and reminding us of this good news. First, God tells us that He will forgive us of our sins as found in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Secondly, God will blot out those sins as stated in Isaiah 43:25, "I have blotted out thy sins." Finally, God will forget those sins and remember them no more for our text says, "I will not remember thy sins." Don't you just feel like praising God?! God is so good. Could we ask anything more than this comforting assurance as found in God's plan for our redemption?
Some of you have heard those who declare that our sins are blotted out at the very moment that we confess our sins, but the Bible does not substantiate such a teaching. To make sure, we must discover the answers to the following questions: 1. When does the blotting out of sins take place; and why is it necessary to blot out the sins? 2. When will God remember our sins no more; and what will be accomplished by blotting them out? I believe we are going to have an exciting time as we discover these great truths.
First of all we must find out where these sins are recorded that are to be blotted out. The Bible states that they are recorded in two difference locations. First, they are recorded in our minds. The individual that commits a sin has that sin recorded in his brain and amazingly it is also recorded in the books of heaven.
Now, let's study how the sin is recorded within the mind. In Jeremiah 17:1 is a very thought-provoking statement. These words are addressed to Judah who represents the individuals who are within the church. Notice these words, "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart." That is a very positive statement.
When you want to write something with a pen and it doesn't write clearly you press harder and harder to make sure that the words are readable, but God uses a pen of iron. Can you imagine the weight? God has no problem for His pen has the necessary weight and what's more the end point of His pen has the point of a diamond. Everyone knows that diamonds are the hardest substance that God ever created. Since it has a cutting edge, the Bible says that it engraves the sin within the heart. Could anything be more clear? God has given us an accurate description of just how our sins are recorded in our minds. There is no question about it.
Perhaps this is easier to understand since we have arrived in the computer age. We can better illustrate the function of the mind and just how it records both good and evil within the folds of the brain as we look at the computer of our day. Permit me to give you a simple description of how the computer functions. Within the computer you can place millions and millions of bits of information which are recorded on tiny chips of silicone material. At the wish of the operator any of these facts can be instantly displayed on a visual screen or they can be printed out on paper so they can be read. If the capacity of the computer is great enough there is no limit as to how much data the computer can handle. Unless these facts are erased or blotted out they will remain forever to be recalled by the operator.
Now I need not tell you that I am sure that the greatest computer in existence is the human brain. Any normal mind is able to record every expression, every experience of a lifetime. Such as whatever we see, whatever we hear, whatever we touch or taste and amazingly, every word we speak. And believe it or not every thought that enters the mind is recorded with a pen of iron; they are engraven with the point of a diamond and cut there to stay forever on the cells of the brain.
There are a few people who wonder why it is that we can't always recount or recall as a computer does. This is because sin has weakened our computers, but this does not mean that they are not able to put on the tissues of our cells the remotest details of experiences of our lives.
Consider this: There are some individuals in this world who are able to recount or reproduce anything that they hear. They are very unusual, gifted people. Such individuals can reproduce what the brain has recorded and I must tell you a story about just such a person. A famous musician heard that there was a blind man who claimed that he had such ability, but the musician questioned it. He decided that he would test this man to see if this was possible. Since this blind man played the piano the musician purposely played a very difficult melody for this blind man to hear. He had been told that this blind man had never heard it before, but to make sure he added some erroneous notes on purpose as he played the melody. In several places he also added an original score of his own which he had never played to anyone. You see, he wanted to make absolutely sure that this man had not heard this piece of music before.
The blind man listened carefully and then sat down at the piano and he rendered the exact musical notes in every detail. He even reproduced the erroneous notes which had been purposely put into the musical score and the personal score that had been added by the musician who was testing him. The blind man played exactly what he had heard and what he had recorded in his brain. He was able to record and recall the notes exactly from his human computer, his brain. Furthermore, any time thereafter in the days to come, he could reproduce the musical rendition exactly as this world-famous musician had played it.
Now this tells us something about our brains. What did God say about our sins? Let me read it to you again in Jeremiah 17:1, "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart." If you were following in your Bible you will notice I didn't read it all. I will now read the last phrase, "And upon the horns of your altars." Did you notice that? Not only is it engraven in the heart with a pen of iron and with a diamond point that engraves it there permanently within the mind, for Inspiration adds that it is also placed upon the horns of your altar.
Now this takes us to the sanctuary, the second place where our sins are recorded. This refers to the sanctuary in heaven, for our sins are not only engraved within the heart but they are recorded on the record books of heaven. I want to read a most vivid description to you of this as found in Great Controversy p. 482 and it makes me tremble. "Every man's work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful disassembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel." I must tell you that when I think this through I tremble. No wonder I am anxious to have such things blotted out of my memory and blotted out of the books of heaven forever or I wouldn't enjoy heaven at all. Now you think that through.
But when is this going to happen? God gives us the answer. In Acts 3:19 it tells us, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." I hope that since you have heard this verse of scripture that you will stop to digest and discover three great facts: 1. To repent and to be converted is necessary in a preparation for heaven. 2. That your sins may be blotted out if you meet the requirements of repentance and conversion. 3. It tells us exactly when that will happen. It says, "When the time of refreshing shall come," and that is the Latter Rain.
I believe we can determine exactly when this refreshing will come. In Great Controversy p. 611, 612 I quote, "The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel, are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are 'the times of refreshing' to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said, 'Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out [in the investigative Judgment] when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.'" So the refreshing and the Latter Rain are one and the same. Note: this comes at the close of the gospel for Peter added in the next verse, Acts 3:20, "And he shall send Jesus Christ." So the coming of Christ follows the blotting out of sin.
Now I think we can understand why it is impossible for sins to be blotted out at the present time. Notice carefully the quotation from the Great Controversy p. 485, "It is impossible that sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out 'when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall sent Jesus Christ.'" This tells us that when the Investigative Judgment closes Christ will come and His reward will be given to every man as his work shall be.
Let's pause here and summarize what we have discovered so far. Our sins are to be blotted out after the Investigative Judgment has ended, which takes place during the time of the refreshing of the Latter Rain. Therefore I can state positively that the blotting out of sins is yet in the near future. I am continuing to read from Great Controversy p. 612, "Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers."
On the following pages (613, 614) I read, "When the third angel's message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received the 'latter rain,' 'the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,' and they are prepared for the trying hour before them. Angels are hastening to and fro in heaven. An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received 'the seal of the living God.' Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, 'It is done;' and all the angelic hosts lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn pronouncement: 'He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.' Revelation 22:11. Every case has been decided for life or death. Christ has made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins."
This information should activated out minds as nothing else because to prepare for the Latter Rain we must correct every defect of our characters in order to receive the Latter Rain. This is in keeping with the counsel found in Early Writings p. 71, "I saw that none could share the 'refreshing' unless they obtained the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, draw nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence."
To make this absolutely clear let me quote further from Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5, p. 214, "Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us [not God] to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement." Did you catch that? Every defilement – that includes sin, doesn't it?
Now let's correlate a little further what we have found between what happens in the heavenly sanctuary and what takes place in our mind. You are aware that on the Day of Atonement in Israel of old that the sins that were blotted out on that special day were the sins that had previously been pardoned and forgiven. These were the sins that had been transferred to the sanctuary which took place when the repentant sinner brought his lamb, confessed his sin over the lamb's head, thus transferring his sin to that of the lamb which was then slain by the hand of the sinner. The blood of that lamb was then carried into the sanctuary by the priest and sprinkled on the horns of the altar.
Do you remember our text in which it said, "And upon the horns of your altar"? That altar stands before the inner veil of the sanctuary. Thus, pardoned sins which were recorded in the brain of the sinner were also recorded in the sanctuary in heaven. In the book Great Controversy p. 421 we are told, "For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ's work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary … to cleanse the sanctuary. …As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through the blood transferred, in figure to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant."
Now listen, this is what takes place for us today. I continue reading, "So in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary and as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of sin."
This is why it is paramount that today we now make necessary preparations so these sins can be removed. It is when every confessed, forsaken and pardoned sin which has been transferred to Jesus who then places them in the sanctuary, that on the final day of atonement Christ our High Priest will be able to blot out those sins. This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Timothy 5:24, "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after."
Here we must again pause for a very important question and perhaps one that you have never thought of in your life. Is it possible that you can annul your pardoned sins? Have you ever thought of that? When you ask Jesus to forgive you is it possible that Christ, who has forgiven you, may in the future cancel what He has done because of a change of evil in your life? Let me read something to you in Patriarchs and Prophets p. 357, "The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement."
Now you ask, "Why in the world does God do this in this manner? Why doesn't He blot them out when we come in repentance and ask for forgiveness." You remember the parable of the unjust steward? Jesus tells us of a king who is investigating his servants and he finds a man who owes him an enormous debt of 10,000 talents. In our world today that would be millions of dollars. This poor fellow is in serious trouble; he cannot pay. He doesn't have the millions. The king commands that he be sold into slavery to make payment.
Can you see this poor man? He gets down on his knees and with tears running down his cheeks he pleads, "Oh please forgive me. I would pay if I could, but I don't have the money. Please." I'm reading in Matthew 18:27, "The lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt." Isn't that just like God? Our sins are so many that we couldn't begin to atone for them, but when we come in repentance and pleading to God He forgives us.
But watch what happens. A few weeks later this same man who was forgiven this enormous debt finds a poor man who owes him 100 pence. That's pennies. He is so poor that he doesn't even have a penny and this man who had been forgiven of the millions that he owed demands that this poor man gives him the pennies that he owes him. The fellow gets down and pleads with tears and asks this man to forgive his debt. But this man who was forgiven of millions throws the poor man in prison because he cannot pay his debt of pennies. Listen to what it says in Matthew 18:34. "His lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him."
Now you may say, "Wasn't he forgiven?" – Yes, but by his evil action he had annulled his forgiveness. I hear you say, "Elder Nelson, are you sort of stretching this a little bit? Are you making an application that ought not to be?" Listen, I'm reading from the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:35, "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." The lesson is clear: If we have been forgiven but choose to be unfaithful in our actions we will thereby annul our previous pardon. The marvelous word "forgiven" that had been recorded over our sins in heaven will be erased from our record and the guilt of our past sins that have been forgiven will no longer be forgiven.
I hear someone say, "That's hard to believe that my God would do that." Let me give you more positive proof. Listen as I read in Christ Object Lessons p. 251. The servant of the Lord is writing about this very same man who owed millions to the king. "It is true that he may once have received forgiveness, but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God's pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented."
Now I believe that you are in a position to see the divine wisdom of God that tells us that He does not blot out our sins at the moment that we seek forgiveness. As long as probation is open and not closed God will cancel our pardoned sins if we prove unfaithful. In today's justice system we do the same here in America. For instance, a criminal serves five or six years in prison of a term of say 20 years and because he has lived a right kind of life in the prison he is then placed on probation. But if that man violates that pledge, that parole is revoked and he returns to prison to serve the full sentence.
We can now see why God does not blot out our sins in the record book of heaven. He is waiting until the judgment is finished, waiting to see if our repentance and conversion is genuine, then He will blot out our sins and our names will be retained in the book of life; Then He will offer the crown of life.
Now comes the most thrilling part of this sermon. In the records of heaven and in the records of our minds the moment is about to come in this final atonement when God will erase every memory of sin. He performs this wonderful act in heaven of blotting out of our minds every past sin so we will never remember them again and they will be banished in the sea of forgiveness. Our loving God has also promised to blot out every sin recorded in heaven, just as the operator of a computer can touch a certain key and cancel everything that has been recorded.
Sometime ago I heard about someone who had spent months in preparing a final paper for her degree and it was all in her computer. Because she was weary and tired and not realizing what she was doing her finger accidentally touched that key which deletes and instantly it was all wiped out. So God has promised to blot out our sins and we shall never be able to recall them.
Let me read this to you from Great Controversy p. 620, "In the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they have no cancelled wrongs to reveal. Their sins have gone beforehand to judgment and have been blotted out, and they cannot bring them remembrance." Praise God.
I must tell you that there are things in my heart I would like blotted out today, but I shall have to wait until the judgment ends when God will wipe them out forever and I can go to heaven and enjoy such a place never again to remember the evils that I participated in as a sinner. Praise the Lord. When God does something He does it right, Amen? What joy we should have as we look forward to the future. Let me read again from Patriarchs and Prophets p. 358, "In the final atonement the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted out from the records of heaven, no more to be remembered or come into mind." Beloved, isn't it going to be wonderful to live in heaven and never remember any of the evils that we have done in this world? No wonder I am looking forward to that day! What a Savior!
This is why in Jeremiah 50:20 it says, "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none." Why? – Because the sins have been blotted out. Isaiah 4:3 makes it very clear, "And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy." Holy? Why? – Because there is not a trace of sin in the individual. The sins have been blotted out in the heavenly sanctuary and blotted out of our minds. All this because of Calvary. Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus that made this possible. Isn't it going to be wonderful to take His hand in heaven and the only thing that will ever remind us of this old world is when we see the scars of sin in His hands in Satan's attempt to take His life on Calvary.
I appeal to you today, with the prophet Joel, that it is time for us to do some special heart searching. God says, "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; … Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Joel 2:1, 12, 13.
We are nearing the close of that final moment of the atonement in heaven when we will either be sealed and declared "saved" with every sin blotted out, or we will have unforgiven sins and we will not be saved. Could it be that in our church today, because of unbelief and rebellion, that some are following in the steps of ancient Israel, unprepared for this final day of atonement? God has told us what to expect. Could it be that some of us look at this blueprint and because of unbelief in our hearts we want to be like the churches of Babylon? We want their worldly rock music, we want to dress like the world and we want to hope that somehow God will save us in our sins as the surrounding churches teach. This is why many are looking for a detour from the divine blueprint of "Thus saith the Lord." But to such they will hear God say, "Depart from me, I never knew you."
You may not like this kind of preaching but I have no choice. I must give the trumpet a warning sound for today is the time when we should be seeking victory over every sin and besetment in our lives. Listen to the following found in Great Controversy p. 425, "Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their character must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative Judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away sin, among God's people on earth."
Listen to this. These are not my words, they are words of Inspiration by the servant of the Lord found in Review and Herald April 21, 1891, "We have slept too long, shall we sleep on, and be lost at last? Are there those who have been sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, and will they continue to do so till Christ shall come? May God help us." You see, sinning and repenting is a teaching exactly like the kind of teaching that the devil is trying to bring into our church today. When you believe that you can sin until Jesus comes, as preached by unfaithful shepherds, you will be lost.
But praise the Lord, today God is offering us power to overcome. Will you take hold of it? That is why I blow the trumpet loud and long. God wants to provide for us victory so that our sins can be blotted out of the books of heaven and blotted out from our minds forever so that our names can be retained in the book of life. Then and only then we shall hear the most marvelous words that a human being can ever hear, "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Let us pray. Oh loving Father, please hold our hand tightly and never let go, and help us by Thy Holy Spirit to have complete victory in our lives over every sin that we may be ready to see Jesus. Grant us this experience today, we pray. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.