When we sin, the disappointment, shame, and guilt that we feel may cause us to think that we could never be worthy of serving Jehovah. Remember, though, that Jehovah is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) Yes, if we repent of our sins and strive hard not to repeat them, we may benefit from Jehovah’s forgiveness. Consider how the Bible describes this marvelous facet of Jehovah’s love.
The psalmist David used a vivid expression to describe Jehovah’s forgiveness: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Italics ours; Psalm 103:12, The Amplified Bible) How far is east from west? In a sense, east is always at the utmost distance imaginable from west; the two points can never meet. One scholar notes that this expression means “as far as possible; as far as we can imagine.” David’s inspired words tell us that when Jehovah forgives, he puts our sins as far away from us as we can imagine.
Have you ever tried to remove a stain from a light-colored garment? Perhaps despite your best efforts, the stain remained visible. Notice how Jehovah describes his capacity for forgiveness: “Though the sins of you people should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow; though they should be red like crimson cloth, they will become even like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) The word “scarlet” denotes a bright-red color. “Crimson” was one of the deep colors of dyed material. We can never through our own efforts remove the stain of sin. Yet, Jehovah can take sins that are like scarlet and crimson and make them white like snow or undyed wool. So when Jehovah forgives our sins, we need not feel that we bear the stain of such sins for the rest of our life.
In a moving song of gratitude that Hezekiah composed after he was spared from a deadly sickness, he said to Jehovah: “You have thrown behind your back all my sins.” (Isaiah 38:17) Jehovah is here portrayed as taking the sins of a repentant wrongdoer and throwing them behind Him where He neither sees them nor takes notice of them anymore. According to one reference work, the idea conveyed may be expressed: “You have made [my sins] as if they had not happened.” Is that not comforting?
In a promise of restoration, the prophet Micah expressed his conviction that Jehovah would forgive his repentant people: “Who is a God like you, . . . passing over transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? . . . And you will throw into the depths of the sea all their sins.” (Micah 7:18, 19) Imagine what those words meant to people living in Bible times. Was there any chance of retrieving something that had been hurled “into the depths of the sea”? Micah’s words thus indicate that when Jehovah forgives, he removes our sins permanently.