If a person is convicted of a crime, it goes on his or her record, sometimes referred to a rap sheet.
Under certain circumstances, a person’s record might be expunged. If a record is expunged it is as if it never existed. It is completely erased, never to be resurrected.
Under other circumstances, a person’s record might be sealed. The procedure to seal a record is often used in juvenile cases. Once a record is officially sealed, it can only be opened by order of the court. But it can be opened. It is not really gone.
Scripture tells us that every person has sinned – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (NIV). We all have had a record, some longer than others.
Then in comes God and offers to forgive our sins. And God’s forgiveness of our sins is akin to an expungement. It’s as if the sins were never committed and there is no record of them. The prophet Isaiah recorded the words of the Lord:
“Come now, let us reason together,” 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 (NIV).
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 (NIV).
But as humans, we have difficult time with the concept of the record of our sins being expunged. We worry that the record has simply been sealed and that it could be reopened by order of the Judge at a moment’s notice.
After all, that’s what we do. When others sin against us, we might forgive them. But we don’t expunge the record; we simply seal it. We may intend to leave it sealed, but when another sin is committed against us by the same person, we unseal that record and add the new sin to it. We keep a record of wrongs. Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV).
But a sealing of the record is not what God calls us to do. He calls us to expunge the record just as He has expunged our record. He calls us to forgive AND forget. But we can’t do it in our own strength, and He doesn’t expect us to. He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us and guide us. The fruit of the Spirit includes love. And love “keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV).
So whose record is God calling you to expunge? Who is God calling you to love like He loves you?