GOD HAS REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS
by Wayne S. Walker
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). English writer Rudyard Kipling, who grew up in India, is credited with the saying, “East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” In his day, Europe was considered “the West” while places like India and China were considered “the East,” and there was a great, almost unbridgeable gap, not only in distance but also in culture, between them. Even in our nation, the East Coast and the West Coast and not only over a thousand miles apart but very different in many other ways as well.
David is saying that just as there is a great distance and separation between east and west, so God has made possible a great distance and separation between us and our sins. Some Bible critics have affected to see a vast distinction between what they call the God of the Old Testament, whom they view as a God of harshness and severity who just could not wait to catch people in sin so He could punish them, and the God of the New Testament, whom they view as a God of love, grace, and mercy who will just accept all people as they are. However, here in Psalm 103, David, in the Old Testament no less, says of God, “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (vs. 13-14).
Of course, the New Testament explains in more detail how God has removed our transgressions from us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Yet, God’s love does not mean unconditional acceptance. Even the New Testament tells us, “Therefore, consider the goodness and the severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22). Yet, because of God’s love demonstrated in Christ, we can have the benefits of God’s promise, initially made in the Old Testament, that “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). What a wonderful blessing that God has removed the sins of those who obey Him as far as east is from west.