My wife Nancy believes my memory picks out what it will keep handy and what it will throw away. To her, that choice is based on what is in her interest versus what is in my own interest.
Pleas of innocence, unfortunately, fall on deaf ears, as I must grudgingly admit to some—purely unintentional—consistency in my forgetfulness. On other occasions, however, my memory drops things I desperately want to remember, to my ultimate frustration.
Wouldn’t a purposeful, selective memory come in handy? We could remember everything that is important to recall, and forget the thoughts that drag us down or limit our potential. Those we love would benefit from our forgetting their accidental gaffes and offenses. A clean slate can be a beautiful thing.
Memory preserves events from everyone’s past, events we would rather forget. Past unthoughtful words, lapses of character and corrupt thoughts that prick our consciences, become lashes that stripe the backs of our minds long after we’ve begged forgiveness and made reparation.
We recall the guilty feeling we get when a state trooper hangs in our car’s rear-view mirror; “How fast am I going? Did I violate some obscure statute and attract his attention to my driving?” What a relief, when his patrol car finally roars past, leaving us to continue down the road without having seen flashing lights in the mirror.
That trooper’s vision can’t penetrate our minds and consciences, leaving our skelletons safely in their closet. Imagine, however, standing before the all-seeing Judge, weighed down by memories of our past offenses, some of which we have tried to correct, and some we have burried deep in the closets and basements of our minds. His memory has no involuntary dropouts, and you feel naked under his penetrating gaze.
If only we could make some excuse that would matter. If only our goodness could compare in the slightest way to his perfect holiness. The prophet Isaiah gives us the Judge’s perspective, But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(Isa 64:6 KJV)
Since we have no basis on which to cop a plea, what hope do we have for an eternity of peace with God? Jesus’ apostle Paul voiced his own despair when considering his personal uncleanness, For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
(Rom 7:14-25 NASB)
If this renowned man of God could make no claim of personal righteousness, what of the rest of us?
Contrary to popular Christian lore, Jesus did not come two centuries ago to show us the way to his Father God. Rather, hear his own words, the kernel of his good news to humankind:
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
(Joh 14:5-7 NASB)
Some feel that such a view is not inclusive enough. They throw out a smoke screen of questions like, “What about all those who have never heard of Jesus?” Or such pseudo-wisdom as, “There are many ways to every destination.” Through the crystal-clear eyes of faith, however, we see the absurdity of such questions and philosophies. Jesus’ eternal truth contradicts and rides above all human wisdom.
How, then, must we be saved from sin’s shackles? God’s simple truth is, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Rom 10:9 NASB)
Jesus said, “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God.”
(Luk 12:8 NASB)
And what of all our clever excuses? For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Php 2:9-11 NASB)