My Permanent Record

When I was a kid, adults had various ways of frightening us to make us behave.

Beginning around December first, there was Santa Claus. “He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice,” and if that wasn’t bad enough, he was COMING TO TOWN. Somehow, this omniscient elf knew when we were sleeping or awake, and whether we had been bad or good. The EYE of Santa peered into our very souls.

But there was a specter even more ominous than EYE of Santa. With Santa, even if I was naughty one year, I could always be nice the next and still get presents. But I could never reverse the blunders that were etched upon my PERMANENT RECORD.

Parents and teachers would tell you that if you goofed off and got a “C” in 2nd grade gym class, it would go on your PERMANENT RECORD which would stalk you for the rest of your life. You’d never get into college because they’d see that C on your PERMANENT RECORD and recognize you for the slacker you are. You’d never get a job, not even as a rickshaw driver in Hong Kong, because all the rickshaw companies have your PERMANENT RECORD.

I didn’t know where they kept my PERMANENT RECORD, but I think it was in the Ark of the Covenant, along with the 10 Commandments. But even if I moved to the Badlands of South Dakota, somehow it would follow me there.

Fortunately, nobody checks our 2nd grade gym grades, but everyone has a real PERMANENT RECORD. It is a record of debt so big even Dave Ramsey can’t help us get rid of it. The Bible calls it “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” (Co 2:14).

The “record of debt” is the record of our every violation of God’s Law.

Every one of us has failed to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We have all worshiped the false gods of success or the praise of men. We have cursed God’s name and grumbled against him when we didn’t get our way. We have dishonored and disobeyed our parents. We’ve committed heart-murder and adultery by anger and lust, stolen office supplies and failed to care for the poor. All of these things go on our real Permanent Record. We have broken God’s law so many times, we can’t even begin to estimate our debt to God.

But while we were suffocating under the mountain of our sin, God made us “alive together with [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Co 2:13-14).

God took the guilt we had accumulated by our sins and transferred it all to Jesus. Then he nailed Jesus and our record of sins to the cross. Jesus paid it all – down to the last penny – and our obligation has been canceled.

But wait there’s more! Jesus too had a PERMANENT RECORD – of perfect obedience. And since Jesus took our record, God transferred Jesus’ flawless record to us who believe in him. Now when God looks at our PERMANENT RECORD he sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

No more guilt for our sins! The Perfect righteousness of Christ credited to us! Now THAT is something to celebrate.

We who believe in Jesus should be the most joyful people on the face of the earth, for these blessings alone, not to mention the multitudes of other blessings our God heaps upon us.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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