“Forgive and Forget”

Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

We often joke about the forgetfulness of old people. My pastor is in his fifties and he frequently makes jokes about his forgetfulness, attributing it to his age, although in truth I don’t think his forgetfulness is any worse than my own as a 27-year-old. It is common for older people to make similar jokes. Some may actually experience forgetfulness due to their age. Scripture reveals to us that when God forgives our sins, He also forgets them, but this is not because He’s ancient.

God chooses to forget our sins when He forgives us. People wrongfully take this attribute of God and ascribe it to human principles. We say, “Forgive and forget.” But how can we? Surely, we can forgive a person, but as finite beings we can never forget their trespass against us, nor is it a biblical teaching for humans to do. For example, I’ve forgiven my ex-fiancé for marrying another man behind my back and getting pregnant with his child while I was at basic training, but it is impossible for me to forget her sin against me and against God. If I lie to you and you find out the truth, you may forgive me for lying but you’ll always remember I lied to you. It is foolish for us to ascribe God’s characteristics to our own because we cannot be God.

Even though we always remember the sins people have committed against us, when God forgives us He does not remember our sins. The above Hebrews passage is speaking on Jesus’ fulfilment of Jeremiah 31:34 as our High Priest. When God makes a promise, He always fulfils it. The entire Old and New Testaments are about God fulfilling His promises made to His people. If He says He no longer remembers your sin when He forgives you, then it’s true. He forgets our sins because we belong to Christ, through whom all our sins have been removed beyond reach—from the east to the west (Psalm 103:12). So, when God forgives you, stop dwelling on your guilt; God no longer remembers it. Give your sins to Christ and move on. God has already forgiven you and no longer remembers your sin.

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