When Paul began his argument in Romans 5, he taught that we are pronounced “just” before God. When we arrive at Romans 8, he continues this thought by saying, “Since we have been declared righteous and just before God, now, we find clemency. We are no longer held in condemnation for our sin.”
Our minds struggle to truly grasp this thought. In terms of human experience, we understand what forgiveness is. When we are wronged by another person, the natural tendency to seek revenge can be checked by a counter-instinct to follow the scriptural command to forgive. Having been forgiven by God of our sins, we lovingly look at those (some of which we would consider our enemies) who have wronged us, and we humbly seek to heal and to get past the ache that we feel from their wrongdoing. However, in our nature, there will most certainly be a reminder of the pain they caused. Our forgiveness does not come with “forget-ness.” The old mantra of “forgive and forget” is not human in nature. Many times, because our souls are covered in scar tissue and even at times we still have deep abiding wounds that can only be soothed by the sweet balm of God’s grace, we cannot forget the evil deeds of others,. Forgive. Yes. Forget. Never. This is human. But God, He His ways are above our ways, and His thoughts above ours. When He offers His sovereign forgiveness, He does not secretly keep a record book of all the wrongs that we committed, waiting for a later day to pull them out and harangue us for our wickedness. Truthfully, if you live with the baggage of guilt for past sin, it is because you never let go of the handle, not because He vindictively strapped it to your back. He has forgiven, and He has chosen to consider us completely pure and perfect in Jesus.
You see, when we trust in Christ, we don’t just get forgiveness from God for our sins. Because of Christ’s work, He doesn’t even see our sin anymore, and declares us to be just and righteous. It is as if we never even committed the sin. Christ has taken it from us, and now there is not just forgiveness, there is justification (a being called “just” or “righteous”) even though we know we haven’t been. God is gracious and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ.”
Food for Thought: Read Romans 8:1-13. According to these verses, God does not just forgive us of our sins. What else happens in regards to our sin?