Can God keep a record of wrongs?

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A Y323
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Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#1

Post by A Y323 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:28 am

Hello everyone. I have learned quite a bit from the main site, and I have enjoyed reading some discussions on these forums. So I thought this would be a good place for me to post a question I have and see what you guys can come up with.

Scripture tells us that God is love. Here's the verses I found:
1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:16 ...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

(I use the NIV version, by the way.)

And I'm sure you all know that chapter about love in 1 Corinthians. Part of it tells us love keeps no record of wrongs. Here's the verse I'm talking about:
1 Corinthians 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Now, in my mind, it should logically follow that since God is love and love keeps no record of wrongs, that God does not keep any record of wrongs. But look at these verses that seem to say just the opposite:
Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Jeremiah 17:10 "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Jeremiah 25:14 ...I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands."
Jeremiah 32:19 ...Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.
Revelation 2:23 ...Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Can any of you help me out with this apparent contradiction?

I had a nice discussion about this with a good friend of mine (he is studying to be a youth minister), and he said I am taking 1 Corinthians 13 out of context. He didn't explain it very much, but once I went back and read some more it does seem possible. Previous chapters seem to be about the church and its people as brothers and sisters in Christ, in general. My friend said that, in context, 1 Corinthians 13:5 means we should not hold any record of wrongs against fellow believers and was not specifically about God not being able to hold a record of our wrongs.

This brings me to another point I brought up. Because God is omniscient, it is impossible for Him not to know our wrongs. Therefore, in a way, God must keep a record of wrongs simply because He is all-knowing. On the other hand, I realize God can choose to push the knowledge of our wrongs to the back of His mind (in a sense) so that He can focus on what little good we have because of our faith in Him. However, this did little to ease my confusion.

I know the Greek language has several words for love (opposed to the one English has). From what I know, they are:
Agape- true, unconditional love only God can provide
Eros- the kind of love you feel for your spouse
Philia- the kind of love you feel for a good friend
Storge- the kind of love you feel for a parent/sibling/other family member
If I am wrong with any of these, please correct me. I thought that this could mean 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 used the word Agape while 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 used one of the others, and therefore 1 Corinthians 13:5 would not be about God. However, this is apparently not the case. After looking up the verses using the Blue Letter Bible site, all three verses use Agape. (This was my first time trying to look up verses in the original language, so if I did something wrong, please tell me.)

I would like to note that I don't entirely consider this a stumbling block for me. I have faith that this is either some kind of profound truth about God that my measly human brain cannot comprehend yet or a very simple question that will seem completely obvious to me once it is explained.

I would greatly appreciate any help anyone can provide.

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#2

Post by jlay » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:18 am

Yep, love keeps no record of wrongs.
God is love, and God in His grace (love) has provided a way through Christ to erase all wrongs. This was done on the cross. It is finished work.

It is also important to understand a few things when we are talking about the nature of God, and the context of the scripture you site. When Paul is writing to the Corinthians he is not contradicting these scriptures. He is specifically talking about the traits of love, and how living is Christ can manifest these realities into our life. When we have trusted in Christ, the record has been wiped clean. Just as God, in His love has erased our wrongs, God also empowers us through love to do the same.

The Bible says that God is love (agape). This isn't a statement of defining God as one thing. Yes, God is love. In fact, a translation could say, 'God is the existance of Love.' He is the THE SOURCE of all true love. But this isn't the only thing that God 'is' the SOURCE of. God IS Holy. God IS Just. God IS the creator. We could go on, and I can site several scriptures of support.
He is not part love, or part Holy, or part Just. He IS the fullness of all these things. It is not as if God is made up of different parts. And it is not as if God can be defined as one thing, such as love. This was not the intentions of writing, 'God 'is' love.'
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#3

Post by A Y323 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:43 am

Thank you for your reply, but I'm still a little confused.

You said God is the source of love, rather than defined as love. Does this mean the verse doesn't apply to Him? What are the word(s) that were translated into "is love"? Maybe there's a better translation than NIV?

You also said God has erased our wrongs through Christ on the cross. I know this and I believe this. But God still knows our wrongs, simply because He is all-knowing, right? He just chooses not to see them?

Also, is it just those who accept Christ who have their wrongs erased? Or does it apply to everyone whether they accept it or not? This reminds me of something else. When I read Matthew 7:22-23, I notice it says "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!", not "You did too many wrongs. Away from me, you evildoers!" This appears significant to me because I think it shows that salvation is based on a relationship with God/Christ, and not on our works. I know many other verses say that salvation is not based on works (but works are still important). Is it OK to count this as one of them? On the other hand, it does say "you evildoers". Does this imply that their wrongs are remembered, or is it simply a term for someone who does not follow God?

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#4

Post by jlay » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:32 am

Does this mean the verse doesn't apply to Him?
I would simply ask, what is the context behind the verse. Is Paul making a statement that God keeps no records of wrongs? It is pretty clear in the context, that this is not the case. Clearly Paul is rebuking and correcting the church of Corinth in how they have handled the matter of tongues. He is emphasizing the importance of heart as oppossed to outward signs. In other words, "if your heart aint right, it doesn't really matter what you do." The way Paul describes love, is in the context of pure Godly love. No question about that. I would best equate 'love keeps no record of wrongs,' to what Paul said in Romans 5:8. "that while were STILL sinners, Christ died for us." God could have left us helpless in our sin, held it against us, and denied us a savior. But He didn't. He made a way, through love. We call that love, grace.

I wouldn't say that God chooses not to see them. It is a matter of substitutionary atonement. Through faith in Christ we BECOME the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
In other words, the matter is settled. Our fine has been paid, and we who were stained are made white by the blood of the lamb. Even though we are still stuck in these sinful bodies, we have a hope for a new resurected life, prepared by God in which we will be righteous. Christ's own resurection speaks to this hope.
Also, is it just those who accept Christ who have their wrongs erased?
That depends on your theology. A Calvinist would say that only the elect are atoned for. An Armenianist would say that salvation is for all, but is appropriated by faith.

Another may believe that all sin was atoned for at the cross and that all are forgiven their sin. However, eternal life is a matter of faith in Christ. And that eternal condemnation is not a failure to appropiate the work of the cross, but instead a matter of failing to trust in Christ.

And, there are other views as well.

I would tend to place myself in Armenianism, but not dogmatically. And if I am completely honest with you, I must confess that I am evaluating this very part of my theology as we speak.

What hermanuetic we use determines how we view such verses in Matt. 7.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#5

Post by A Y323 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:42 pm

Wow, that helps a lot, thank you very much! I don't remember ever reading 2 Corinthians 5:21 before, but I should have because it really helps explain a lot to me.

I'm still struggling to grasp just how great Christ's sacrifice is, which is probably why I had trouble with this question. I recently read that if you struggle with guilt it means you have doubts or don't fully understand how powerful Christ's sacrifice is. Well, that's pretty much how I am right now. I really struggle with guilt after I sin, and sometimes it leads me to question whether or not I'm really saved. I definitely believe that God sent His son Jesus to die for our sins because no one else can live up to God's laws, and that through Christ's sacrifice we are saved from sin and will one day live forever with God in a world free of sin. I also do my best to honor God with my life and actions (but of course as a human, I fail miserably). People keep telling me that's all you need, but for some reason I still get unsure at times.

Is there a particular area of the Bible you think I should study to help me with this?

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#6

Post by jlay » Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:20 pm

Brother, I have struggled with the same thing.

I think a lot of this comes from a few different things. The flesh for one. Often it is hard for us to grasp how radical the gospel really is. That there has got to be some strings attached. We think, 'surely I have to do something to merit salvation.' This can lead to all kinds of problems.

Sometimes this can lead to a thought of, "I don't deserve salvation. I'm too far gone." I have encountered many like this. They have led horrible lives, filled with regret, and they think there is no way anything or anyone can save them. They beleive their sin is greater than the Savior. Well in one sense they are right. We don't deserve it. But that is what makes it grace. God's unmerited favor. The gospel really is this radical. That a messed up sinner can come in their sin, by faith alone and be granted eternal life.

Another one is when a Christian sins, and thinks, "How could I do that, knowing what I know." These things can and do cause Christians doubt. Sometimes their own salvation. But this is a lie. If our salvation is dependent on our own living, then I contend there are many living a lie. The bible says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." Watch out for people who say such things. Essentially they are claiming to be without sin. Now don't think I am saying that God can not give us victory over sin. He can. But the most pious people I have met, are usually the 1st one's to admit how much sin still remains. It is not that they sin more, but the perspective of holiness has magnified the dark recesses of their own souls. We should feel guilty when we sin. That is our conscience at work. That is a good thing. When your conscience works, it is doing what God designed it to do. But we need to trust His word, and respond in faith. Do our failures to execute holy living negate our salvation? Sadly there are some who beleive so. It isn't our efforts or works that save us. God has said that Faith is our response to obtain eternal life.

Another reason is bad messages. There is a lot of preaching that real Christians have to forsake their sins to be forgiven. But that is hardly a gospel of grace (unmerited favor). That is a gospel of self-sanctificaiton. That says, you have to clean up your own life first to be able to trust in Christ. No wonder so many think they can lose their salvation. This message usually starts with a fundemental error regarding the definition of repentance. This is the area I struggled with. We simply can't ever clean up our own life enough to make it right. That doesn't mean Christians shouldn't desire sanctification. They should. But this is a process, and one that is lead by the Holy Spirit and one's continued response to the hand of God in their life. It is a post salvation work.

When we are unsure it could be for a couple of reasons. The worst reality is that we may have followed a false gospel. Heaven knows there are plenty of Charlatans out there doing such. Or, it may be that we are saved, but we are sliding back into ourselves. Just like Peter slid into the water, when He took His eyes off the master. Jesus is our salvation. We know there is, "salvation in no other name." So, if we look at ourselves, it is no wonder we would have doubts. Because we should have doubts about our ability to save ourselves. Those doubts are right. But often we confuse those doubts into doubting Christ's work.

We can only respond to God by trusting Christ. Who He is (The Son of God), what He said (His message), and what He did. (Lived sinless, Died, Rose, and is coming again.)
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#7

Post by A Y323 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:26 pm

Thanks for all the help jlay!

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Re: Can God keep a record of wrongs?

#8

Post by For_Narniaaa » Tue May 25, 2010 8:15 am

I believe that when Paul mentioned that "love keeps no record of wrongs," he meant that if you truly love someone, you will be willing to forgive them and not carry around a constant bitterness over how they wronged you. In other words, as Christians, we need to forgive instead of "making a list" of wrongs until we're so upset that we just explode. (That's when an argument most likely occurs.) So basically, don't let your unforgiveness and offense pile up against your brother.

With that view in mind, I don't think this verse contradicts God's nature. God keeps a record of our wrongs because He is the ultimate Judge; a judge in court needs to know the offenses committed. But the judge is not bitter or spiteful toward the accused; instead, he is all business. God passionately hates sin, but he loves His children. It's just another one of those confusing, but true, reconciliations of God being both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. God knows what we have done wrong, but He is not bitter about it; instead, He readily forgives us.
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