Why We Must Understand That God Removed Our Sins “as Far as the East Is from the West”

Contributing Writer
Why We Must Understand That God Removed Our Sins “as Far as the East Is from the West”

If there is one thing many believers struggle with it is understanding God’s forgiveness. It is challenging enough to receive God’s forgiveness at salvation, but sometimes it is even more difficult after we have been saved. It is not unusual to wonder how God views our sin once we have repented and he has forgiven it. Verses like these in Psalms help to paint a clear picture of God’s perspective on forgiving our sins, but also how he views them afterward.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

The truth in this verse is so fundamental to your walk with Jesus that you simply cannot afford to miss it. Once you truly understand the significance of this verse, it will revolutionize your relationship with God.

What Does It Mean “as Far as the East Is from the West”?

While the language of this verse is poetic, there is a real transformational truth found in these words. To begin with, let’s define what a transgression is. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a transgression is “an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct; an offense.” In a biblical sense, a transgression is not just an act but a willful act where you choose to intentionally disobey what God has commanded.

While sin, which means to miss the mark, can fall into this category, sins can be intentional or unintentional. This is not the case with a transgression because transgressions are done with full knowledge and intention.

The Significance of East and West

The beauty of this verse is seen in God’s response to our transgressions. He meets our willful act of disobedience with a willful act of his own. When we come to God in repentance seeking forgiveness, he forgives us, but it doesn’t stop there. As David said, “as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” What does that mean for you and for me?

Consider this for a moment. What would happen if you took two people and told one to walk east and the other to walk west? Well, as long as those two people are walking in those directions, they would never meet each other again because they are going in opposite directions. This is how God has separated us from our transgressions. Once they are forgiven, in God’s eyes, we never meet up with them again. 

This speaks volumes to what God chooses to do when he forgives our sin. God’s act of forgiveness towards us is purposeful and intentional. He chooses to display his mercy towards us in the act of forgiveness, but according to this verse he does more. One of the hardest truths to embrace about God’s forgiveness is that God does not just choose to forgive our sin; he chooses to forget it as well. When he forgives, he removes our sin so far from us that when he sees us, he does not see the sin we previously committed.

The reason this is so hard to grasp is because even though God may forget the sin we have committed, we don’t, and Satan doesn’t either. It is very easy for us to remember sins we have committed, and Satan is very good at reminding us of them as well. 

Why You Must Embrace the Truth of God’s Forgiveness

It is critical that you embrace the reality of what happens when God forgives you and never let it go. If you don’t, this will hinder your relationship with God, and it will stunt your growth.

Let me say it with these words: it is impossible to have a growing, loving relationship with your heavenly Father if you are constantly wondering if God remembers and holds against you the sins that you have already repented of. When you hold onto the memory of your sin that God has forgiven, it will not incline you to draw near to him. Instead, the memories will push you away. I don’t say this as just a theological fact, I say this as a personal reality.

If you don’t remember anything else in this article, remember this. When God forgives, he chooses to forget, and he will never remind you of sins you have already repented of because he has forgiven you. The only time God will ever point a finger at sin in your life is if you are still engaging in it and have not repented. That’s why it is so important to remember that as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed your transgressions from you.

Was This True When It Was Written, before Christ?

Since this verse is written in the Old Testament before Christ, you might wonder was this true when David wrote it? The answer is yes. David understood the forgiveness of God because he was a partaker of it – as we all are when we repent. God’s attitude towards forgiveness at that time still applies now.

However, this verse also foreshadows what happens to us when we come to Christ. Not only are we clothed in Christ’s righteousness, but we are washed and cleansed in his blood and our sins are remembered no more because they have been washed away. This is the promise God has made, not just in this Psalm but in other places as well.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

“’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Repeatedly we see throughout Scripture that with forgiveness comes washing and cleansing. The two go hand in hand. This is a reminder that God doesn’t just forgive, he forgets, and the reason he is able to forget is because he has washed the slate clean.

What Does This Verse Mean for Us Today?

The truth of Psalm 103:12 means many things for us, but there is one I want to highlight. That one thing is confidence. Knowing God has removed your transgressions from you allows you to approach him with confidence. You can come before him without the weight of sin hanging over your head, because he has removed the sin. The sins you had are just that – the sins you had. He has removed them and remembers them no more. You should do the same.

The next time you sin, run quickly to God in repentance. When you do you will find grace, mercy, and forgiveness. If you have sincerely repented, you can be confident God has forgiven you, and along with that forgiveness he has forgotten that sin. The best part is this truth remains when you first get saved and continues even after you are saved. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. This was true then. It is true now. It will be true forever. He has forgiven you and he will remember your sins no more.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Marco Casse'

Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com