Wiped Out

Joel Stephen Williams

"Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:19).

In an old, one-room, country schoolhouse years ago, John Maynard was doing very poor work. About half way through the school year, though, something the teacher said inspired him. He diligently applied himself to his work. His grades improved. His assignments were neat and attractive. He finished the year with very good marks, and his parents were quite proud. On visitation day at the end of the year, however, John's heart sank as he saw his mother looking at his workbooks from that school year. He knew that the first half of those workbooks were full of messy work and unsightly blots. He watched as his mother leafed through them and was surprised that his mother was quite pleased as she called his father over to examine them. John discovered that his kind teacher had removed all of his work from the first half of the year and only left the work that was neat.

The point in life where we have a change of heart is called "repentance." Sometimes in the Bible this change is simply called "turning" (Acts 3:19). When we make an about-face, God covers up all of our shabby deeds from the past. He forgives, which means he removes them from the record book. In ancient times writing was removed from leather scrolls by washing or sponging the ink off, and this metaphor was employed frequently in the Bible. The Psalmist prayed: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfact love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions....Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities" (Ps. 51:1, 9). God declares: "I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins....I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist" (Isa. 43:25; 44:22).

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