At the close of the book of Micah, the prophet asks the Lord, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage?" (7:18a). He proceeds to say that God does not retain "his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy" (v. 18b). Someone has said that "grace" is when we do get what we do not deserve, while "mercy" is when we do not get what we do deserve.
Next, the prophet makes another statement about God: "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities…" (v. 19a).
Finally, Micah begins not to speak merely about God but to address God directly: "and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (v. 19b). This metaphor captures the complete expurgation of sin that occurs when God in his mercy fully pardons sinners. Our sins are dropped like a stone to the bottom of the sea. In Psalm 103:12 David sings, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Now, admittedly, we need the analogy of faith (the full and consistent witness to right doctrine as revealed in all of Scripture) fully to understand how God gives so great a forgiveness. He does not merely "wipe the slate clean" or "forget about our sin." No, he has a means for the removal of sin from his holy sight. That means in the cross work of Christ. "Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4a).
We should know this. The Christian stands in a completely different place than the man who does not confess faith in Christ. You may struggle with sin still, but in the most ultimate sense you have already received forgiveness. Do not let the accuser of the brethren antagonize you with the memory of all the ways you have fallen short of God’s glory. If you stand in Christ, He has cast yours sins into the depths of the sea!
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle