Your Permanent Record

Your Permanent Record

I don’t know how it is for students today, but when I was growing up, we heard all about the permanent record. And that phrase — this will go on your permanent record — was never intended to be good news. At least, not when it was said to me.

Which is why, somewhere deep within the historical archives in the hallowed halls of the Oklahoma Educational system, there can be found a thick manila folder with my name on it, containing a document listing all the misdeeds of my childhood years. Every time I ran down the hallway, or stuffed gum into the water fountain, or scuffled on the playground — it’s all there.

Everyone knows about the permanent record (thanks now to social media) and we quite naturally assume that God maintains such a file on each of us — as if he documents our every sin.

Except he doesn’t.

And he goes out of his way to let us know. As the psalmist said…

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

I like how he says O Lord twice in one sentence, to underline just how dreadful it would be. David understood that if such a list did exist, none of us could stand.

For this reason God emphasizes again and again throughout his Word that when he forgives, he lets it go. The prophet Micah said…

You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

And in the book of Isaiah, God has said…

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

Listen to what God is saying: There is no permanent record.

When you’re forgiven, the slate is clean.

Today’s memo was adapted from Steve’s message Almost Too Good To Be True, originally published at