I remember the first time I ever saw the ocean. It was from a seat in an airplane looking out over the ocean as we flew over. As I stared at the water below, I was struck with 2 things. First the fact that there was no one down there. I was looking for ships and I couldn’t see any. None, nothing, empty. It was kind of eerie. The other thing that struck me was what looked like an erratic pattern of waves. I could see the waves, or at least the white caps sometimes as we flew over. There was a kind of pattern to it, but, for the most part, it looked random. I couldn’t help but think that , if our plane wasn’t flying over, there would be no one to see these beautiful patterns that emerge, but they would still be there. God, was creating these waves for His pleasure.
When we got to our destination, We spent some time playing in the ocean. I went out several feet into water about up to my waist. Again, I was struck with the vastness of what I was looking at. I was playing in a tiny little area of a huge, nearly limitless ocean.
I think of that vacation from time to time, and I am struck by a passage from Micah
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
A couple of things I find interesting. First of all, God says He forgives sins. In this passage He is talking about Israel coming back from being captives in another land, but we see the character of God who forgives. But he goes further, He tells them that He will cast their sins into the depth of the sea. You see, the Israelites had really, and I mean REALLY messed up. God had promised three things to them, and they had done their best to lose all three. First He promised them a great nation. Well, they had been defeated by a world power that was trying to integrate them into his culture. Secondly, they had been promised land. When they were defeated, they lost their land. Finally, they were promised that though them all nations would be blessed. Well, if they were integrated into the culture around them, and lost their land, it stood to reason that they would not be able to give the blessing to everyone. But God remembered Israel. He forgave their sin. He preserved a remnant of HIs people. He gave them back the land and he brought Jesus who blessed all nations. But more than that, he trampled their sins under His feet, and he threw them into the sea.
The second thing I find interesting is that it is the sin and iniquity that He casts into the sea. That means that the sin will no longer exist. If God tramples it, it is gone. If it is cast into the depths of the sea, then it is gone. It no longer exists. It is not just forgiven, it is GONE.
In I Corinthians 13 God tells us that love always forgives. We are supposed to love like Christ loves, and His love is on display in I Cor 13. So, how does He forgive. It is as if the sin never happened. Jesus paid the price for the sin, Jesus took the punishment for the sin, Jesus took the very wrath of God for the sin, and He declared it forgiven. Now, can we do any less? Not only can we not do any less, if God Himself declared the sin forgiven, how can we continue to hold it against our spouse, or worse, against our children? Now understand there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation takes time and work, but forgiveness comes from and is a gift from God. .
So, when your spouse does that thing for the 100th time and you forgive them, remember my airplane ride. First of all, when you cast their sin into the sea, in imitation of what Jesus did, it is vast and the sin is lost and gone. Secondly, God created the ocean for His glory, and it is to His glory for you to forgive your spouse, and cast those sins into the sea. Whether anyone sees it or not, it brings glory to Him.
Finally, your forgiveness shows a little glimpse of heaven to a watching world. One day sin will be completely gone. It won’t exist. We will live in a perfect new world, unmarred by sin. Until then, the closest we will get is when we eliminate sin from our marriages, and the only way to do that is to forgive them immediately and cast those sins into the sea when they come up. We will never stop sinning, but we can get rid of the sin by seeking and bestowing forgiveness immediately. Give the world a picture of heaven by showing them a marriage that refuses to let sin rule, but attempts to show the world a tiny, albeit imperfect picture of what heaven will be.