I received an email recently with a question I am asked a lot. A summary of the question is:
The Bible says we are seen in God’s righteousness (Phil. 3) but I don’t know how to make sense of that idea with verses about how we will one day give an account for our actions (Heb. 4:13, Matt. 12:36, Rom. 14:12). It sounds like God sees us as clean and separates our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) but then remembers it all again in the end which doesn’t sound like he actually sees us as clean, or perhaps we’re allowed to wear God’s righteousness, but only until judgment.
Here was my response:
On judgment day, we will have to give an account – for the good things that we have done. As for the sins, they will show up as simply blanks. Anything bad is removed, but there won’t be any corresponding good. For example, if a person spends 10 years of her life living in adultery but confesses her sin to God, on judgment day that adultery will not show up. But those 10 years will be essentially blank of good deeds and therefore there won’t be any reward. That time will appear wasted. In that sense, she will be held accountable for not having done good during that time, but her sins won’t be revisited. He truly has forgotten them and removed them from us.