“Sins Forgiven, Righteousness Given”
Psalm 103:11-13, 17
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Psalm 103.10-17
Psalm 103. A man was convicted of the horrible crime of murder. And the day of his reckoning has come; he is to stand before the judge. And after a long trial over many weeks, it becomes very apparent to all in the room that the man is guilty. There have been multiple presentations of one indisputable fact after another. It comes time for the verdict… the murderer and the victims family members nervously awaits his judgment. Sweat practically drips from his palms as the judge approaches the bench… And declares the verdict… “not guilty.” [Breathe in quickly…]There are gasps all over the room and the man walks out a free man.
Now, what would you think of that judge? Would you think that he is gracious? Would you think that he is righteous? He’s far from righteous; you can’t just let him off the hook!
What if you come before the Judge of all the earth? And now it’s your time in court, and all the evidence is in… this one is a sinner. How can God just let you off the hook? How can you come before the eternal Judge as a sinner and expect God to remain righteous and still be able to pardon you of all of your sins?
In Psalm 103 we see our sins forgiven and God’s righteousness given. How God could do this and still be righteous becomes more clear in the New Testament at the coming of Christ.
“Sins Forgiven” (Ps. 103:10-13)
Psalm 103:10–13 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
Here we have 3 pictures of God’s forgiveness of His people. The first one is…
“God is faithfulness to forgive is infinite” (vv.10-11)
Psalm 103:10–11 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. [why not? …. Because v.11…] 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
Heavens refers to anything that’s above the earth. In the creation story in Genesis, this is where God put the sun, moon and stars. This is outer space.
His lovingkindness is His covenant love, His faithfulness to His promises. And here, the focus is God’s faithfulness to forgive. We have God’s forgiveness in verse 10 and His lovingkindness, His faithfulness to do that in verse 11. He promises to forgive. He hasn’t rewarded us for our sin…why not? Because His lovingkindness is great; His faithfulness to forgive is great.
And if you wanted a picture of how great his faithfulness is to forgive, here’s the picture in verse 11: God’s faithfulness to forgive is great just like the distance between outer space and earth is great.
ILL: How great is the distance between earth and the edge of our observable universe? How far is it out there to the farthest point in the universe that we can see? It is estimated that the edge of the observable universe is about 46.5 billion light-years away. That’s how great God’s faithfulness to forgive is: 46:5 billion light years away.  Now, one light year is 5.85 trillion miles. To figure out how many miles that is is crazy…
So, let’s try to put that in perspective. If you could drive nonstop to the sun …just to our sun, at 60 mph or just under 100km/hr, it would take you 180 years. A space shuttle traveling at 18,000 mph could get you there in 215 days.
But that same space shuttle could get you around the earth in a mere 83 minutes. To go just one light year in that space shuttle would take 37,200 years. That’s how long it would take you to go one light year in a space shuttle.
Now, multiple that by 46.5 billion and you get how many years it would take for you in a space shuttle to get to the edge of the observable universe…I did that … ahem… it’s 1 [quadrillion],729 [trillion],800 [billion],000,000,000 … years, that’s years for a space shuttle traveling at 18,000 mph to reach the edge of the observable universe, almost 1.75 trillion years. That’s unfathomable, isn’t it?
And that’s just what we can observe. They say that the universe continues to expand… The American astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1929 proved, for the first time, that the universe is expanding.
Now, that is a picture of how great God’s faithfulness is to forgive… God’s faithfulness to forgive is great just like the distance between earth and outer space is great. Verse 10…
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. [why not? …. Because v.11…] 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
God lovingkindness is his faithfulness to his promises. He promises to forgive. He doesn’t deal with us according to our sins. Just like the distance between Earth and outer space is great, so also is his lovingkindness … His faithfulness to forgive… is great.
Now, his lovingkindness is great, it says at the end of verse 11, toward those who fear him. God’s lovingkindness, specifically his lovingkindness concerning forgiveness, he is faithful to forgive…. Is great towards those who fear him.
Are you a God-fearer? Do you fear God? Are you afraid of disobeying him? And do you reverence his character? This is what it means to fear the Lord. To be afraid of disobeying him and to reverence or respect his character. This is only possible for those who have confessed him to be Lord, to be God and master.
And for us, in the New Testament era, we confess Jesus Christ as Lord, and believe God has raised him from the dead. For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord, for as many who ask him, he saves them.
It’s quite simple: ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin. 1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God is faithful to forgive, and that faithfulness is great just like the distance between the furthest star and earth is great. It’s simply and gloriously unfathomable and infinite. If you ask, he forgives…period.
Now, David didn’t know how far away those stars were. Little did he know that this is a picture of God’s infinite, unfathomable, glorious faithfulness to forgive. An ever expanding universe is about as good of a picture of infinite as you can get!
APP: Now, you have a great opportunity to look at stars this time of year here in northern Canada. On a clear night, you can see the milky way…, Or on some clear night in the future, look up at the stars. And, if you need it, how about a little dialogue a la Job.
You say, “God, I don’t know if you can forgive me.”
“Do you know the distance to the farthest star?” “Where were you when I created the heavens?” “Can you see to the observable edge of the universe?” “Can you even come close to travelling there?” “That’s how great my faithfulness to forgive is.”
Look at the great distance of those stars and ask God to forgive you and receive that cleansing. God is inifinitely faithful to forgive.
Second picture of God’s forgiveness…
“God’s forgiveness is immeasurable (v.12).”
Just like the distance between east and the west is immeasurable, so also is God’s forgiveness immeasurable.
The first picture described God’s faithfulness to forgive; this picture describes God’s actual forgiveness. It’s immeasurable.
Psalm 103:12 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
He’s removed our transgressions, our rebellion, from us. He’s separated our sin from us. What does that mean? It means that if God has forgiven you, when He looks at you, He doesn’t look at your sin; your sin is far removed from you. If you’ve trusted Christ and turned from your sin and asked Jesus to save you, he has removed your transgression, your rebellion from you. He doesn’t look on you and see your sin. He has pardoned you. He has pronounced you not guilty. He has given you the security of a perfect relationship with him. “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. ” God’s actual forgiveness is immeasurable.
ILL: Tell me how far is the east from the west…tell me, if thou knowest… 😉
Look, if you travel east, you’ll never go west. East and west don’t meet. That’s unlike North and South. If you travel north you will eventually go south. Why is that? The North Pole is the northernmost point on earth. It is the surface point at which the axis of the earth rotates.
By definition, these are poles. We don’t have east and west poles. Why not? Because the earth doesn’t rotate there. The axis of the earth runs north and south and so the earth rotates that way.
And so you can measure the distance between the North and South poles, it’s a little over 12,000 miles. So if David said “as far as the north is from the south so far as he removed our transgressions from us” that would still be a long ways away, but I don’t know about you, but I’d like my sin to be a little bit farther than that even.
Since the psalmist is said that he has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west, that’s a whole lot better, although 12,000 miles is still quite a long way.
Why is the distance between east and west better? Because if you travel west you’ll never go east. East and West are immeasurably distant from each other. If you go west and want to find west you’ll never find west … you will always be traveling west. You’ll never come near to it. It’s the same traveling east. You’ll never find East if you travel east. You’ll never come near to it. So how far is the east from the west? It is separated without limit; it’s distance is immeasurable.
So, if you think that your sins have piled up to the highest part of outerspeace, know this: God’s faithfulness to forgive you reaches beyond that and that when you ask God, He cleanses you to an immeasurable degree; His cleansing and forgiveness is complete.
This is an example of how far God removes our transgressions from us: just like you could never go east and find East and just like you could never go west and find west, so also the distance between those two is how far God removes our transgressions from us. He has simply separated our sin from us in an unlimited way. You could never travel anywhere to find your sin. It’s gone.
TRANS: God’s faithfulness to forgive is infinite as we now know by modern science that outerspace is ever expanding.
And the actually pardoning of our sin is also without limit. We know by modern science that the distance between east and west is immeasurable. So, no matter what the sin, no matter how many, when we ask God to forgive us, He does. Period.
God is infinitely faithful to forgive and His actual forgiveness is immeasurable. Now, the third picture of God’s forgiveness…verse 13…
God’s compassion to forgive is like a father’s compassion (v. 13).
Psalm 103:13 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
God has compassion just like a father has compassion. You know, there have been unspeakable sins committed by children against their parents. Unspeakable. The most horrendous stories you could imagine are out there.
I read 2 stories I won’t detail, one was attempted murder by 2 sons against their parents and the other a successful murder of the mother and boys by a daughter. And in both of these cases the father forgave his children. One of those men is an evangelist today.
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”
Luke 11:11–13 11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
God is compassionate enough to forgive you when you simply ask Him.
What have you done against your Heavenly Father? Do you not think that He is more compassionate at all times than any earthly father? If evil men give good gifts, how much more your Heavenly Father…how much more would He give you salvation, deliverance from guilt, if you simply pray and ask for cleansing. Don’t hide, humble yourself, be willing to be exposed, and say “Here I am Lord, sins and all, please forgive me!”
ILL: We teach our kids to ask for forgiveness. “Tell Daddy you’re sorry.” “I’m sorry Daddy.” Instantly … “I forgive you.” I don’t deliberate, I don’t hesistate, I don’t question whether that was a sincere apology or not…they ask for forgiveness, they receive forgiveness
How much more our gracious, compassionate and loving Heavenly Father?
His faithfulness to forgive is enough. His faithfulness is infinite, higher than outerspace.
His forgiveness is enough. His forgiveness is immeasurable, sins removed as far as the east is from the west.
His compassion to forgive is enough. Just like a godly father to his children.
TRANS: But you know what? That just leaves us neutral. When you ask God to forgive you… “Lord, be merciful to me the sinner!” When you ask that, it leaves you neutral. You’re forgiven, but you don’t have positive righteousness before God.
So we need to be given righteousness from God. We need that credited to our account. This is verse 17 and 18 …
“Righteousness Given (Ps. 103:17-18)”
Psalm 103:17–18 17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.
The first part we’ve seen before, but this second part is now the focus… “And His righteousness ‘is’ to children’s children.” This could be describing how God …not only forgives sin, but now positively actually gives His very righteousness to successive generations.
He forgives sin and gives His own righteousness, crediting His righteousness to their account.
ILL: Like in accounting or if you try to figure out your net worth. If you want to figure out how much money you are worth, on one side of the paper you put your debts, on the other side you’d put your assets…your cash, equity, investments, or whatever.
And in God’s accounting for eternal life, you have to have all your sin debt paid and you have to have God’s perfect righteousness credited to your account. Even in the Old Testament, this is the way of salvation. You need God’s righteousness given to you. But how was that going to happen?
It’s not until the New Covenant that we get the full picture of this. Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 5. The question we’re asking is this, “how can God forgive our sins and give us his very righteousness credited to our account? How can God do this and still be righteous just like that Judge in our opening story? How can God truly be righteous and forgive sinners and truly give them his righteousness? Because that doesn’t seem righteous. God made the way through Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21 21 He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus was not a sinner. He knew no sin, he did not commit a single individual act or thought of sin. God made this perfect sinless God-man to actually become sin for us. So that we might become God’s righteousness.
Romans 3:25 God displayed Christ publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
God displayed Christ on that cross publicly as a propitiation…which means that God satisfied his own anger against our sin on the cross. God extinguished his own hot anger against us because of our sin… he did that on the cross when Christ died for our sin. Through Christ’s sacrifice we have God’s forgiveness of our sin.
But not just forgiveness of sin … we also have God’s righteousness…as 2 Co. 5:21 goes on to say … God did this so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
We actually become God’s righteousness. We have His perfect righteousness credited to our account.
Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
We are saved by Jesus’ life!
For all those who have trusted in Christ, and have turned their back on their own self and have called upon the name of the Lord and those whom the Lord has saved this is the reality: God extinguished all of his hot wrath against our sin at the cross when he punished his own son for our sin.
And this also is a reality: for all those whom God has saved for you who have simply trusted in Christ, you have credited to your account all of Christ’s righteousness. Paul says there Romans 5:10, “we shall be saved by his life.”
Jesus lived the perfect life; he totally fulfilled all of God’s law never having one time broken it. And because he lived that perfect life… And through my faith in him, all of my sin is gone.
My eternal net worth is perfect! All of the debt of my sin has been wiped away… The sin debt is all gone; credited to Christ’s account: He became sin for me. And all of Christ’s perfect righteousness has been now credited to my account, “I have become the righteousness of God in Christ.”
In Christ, my net worth is perfect. All sin debt is paid, all righteousness given.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Psalm 103.10-17
And now in all confidence I can come into the eternal courtroom of God. And if it be that the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself, would stand before the Lord and accuse me of all of my sin. The judge of all the earth, Jesus Christ, would rise from his judgment bench and say, “Enough! I, His Judge, have died for him, I’ve been raised from the dead for him… I’ve paid for His sin. My righteousness I have given to him. He shall suffer nothing but I will raise him up on the last day and will say to him, “enter into the joy of your Lord.” “No man shall snatch him out of my hand.”
Jesus is all my righteousness, my glorious dress.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold …bold! shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay? [Who will lay any charge against me? No one!]
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
Do you have this confidence before Him?
276 Glory I’m saved!