Remember No More|
One of the best rules to govern our relationships with one another is "forgive and forget.” This rule allows us to maintain good relationships with one another even when offenses occur. If we could not forgive and forget, then most of our relationships would be short-lived, for offenses are common. By forgiving and forgetting one another’s transgressions, we can reconcile damaged relationships and restore them to a new condition. This practice can be repeated over and over again just as the Lord commanded us (Matt. 18:21-22), and thus our relationships can be maintained for a lifetime.
Many times the hardest part of following this rule is forgetting. For some reason, we can often restore a relationship after an offense, yet we are quick to recall the offense again and again We use the idiom "bury the hatchet” (an actual practice of some American Indians) to describe the process of reconciliation, but some have amended this phrase to include "leave the handle sticking out.” In other words, we are willing to forgive an offense against us, but we will not forget it. The result is that when another offense is committed, the previous offense is quickly recalled so that the offender is held guilty for everything he has ever done wrong. By this, it is easy to see that true forgiveness must include forgetting also, for otherwise the offender’s guilt is never really removed.
While men tend to remember one another’s transgressions, God assures us that He will completely forget our sins. When God foretold through the prophet Jeremiah of the new covenant He would establish, He said, "They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them…for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34). This covenant of God’s forgiving and forgetting has now been established through Jesus Christ according to Hebrews 8:7-13 and 10:14-18 where Jeremiah’s prophecy is quoted. Notice that Hebrews 10:18 says, "Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.” If God continued to remember our sins, then a continual offering for our sins would be necessary. However, Christ’s sacrifice was more than sufficient for the forgiveness of our sins, and so God has also forgotten our guilt.
God forgets our sins in the same way He forgives our sins, which is through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The atoning of Christ’s blood allowed God to forgive us of the guilt of our sins, and it also allows Him to forget that we ever committed sin at all. Our accounts before God have been wiped clean of every transgression so that it is as if we had never committed them. Notice God’s words in Isaiah 43:25 – "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Also notice His words in Isaiah 44:22 – "I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” To "wipe out” transgressions is to erase the memory of them, and this is exactly what God does for us in Jesus Christ according to Acts 3:19 – "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” This does not mean that God does not retain any memory of the events of our transgressions, but He does not remember the guilt, evil, and wickedness of our hearts. When He forgets our sins, we do not have to account for them anymore.
If God’s forgiveness includes forgetting our guilt, then our forgiveness of one another should do the same. Our model for forgiving and forgetting is God Himself according to Ephesians 4:32 – "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” The Lord Jesus taught that God will measure His blessings toward us in the same measure as we give to others, and this includes the blessing of forgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15; 7:1-5). Therefore, if we desire for God to forgive and forget our transgressions, then we must forgive and forget the transgression of others.
It truly is a wonderful blessing to know that God will not remember our sins. If you are in Christ Jesus through faithful obedience to His gospel, then you know that He will hear your sincere appeals for forgiveness with your confession and repentance (Acts 8:22-24; 1John 1:6-10; 5:14-15). Therefore, you can have confidence when you offer a prayer like this one offered by David in Psalm 25:7 – "Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.” If you are not in Christ Jesus, then God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness of sins has not yet benefitted you, for you remain in your sins. Why not obey the Lord’s gospel and have your sins wiped out today?
Stacey E. Durham
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