Sunday, August 9, 2009

Should we Forgive and Forget?


"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV) {see Jeremiah 31:34}


There is a Spiritual Urban legend that we must "Forgive and Forget". This commonly teaches us, erroneously, that "Just as God forgives us and forgets our sin so we should forgive others and forget their sin."

At first glance you may say, "Well, isn’t that what the Bible says? Doesn’t Colossians 3:13 teach us that we should forgive as God does and, according to Hebrews 8:12, God "remembers no more" all our sins." But, as we will see, the term "remembers no more" does not mean "forget" as we understand it in modern English.

The key to understanding what the Biblical term "remembers no more" really means is in understanding the Biblical use of "remember". In modern English , "remember" means to not forget. Just by looking at one Biblical use of "remember" we can see this modern meaning is not the same as the Biblical one.

Take Noah, for example. Genesis 8:1 says that "God remembered Noah" after he and his family, and all the animals had been floating around in the Ark for five months. Did God forget all about Noah for five months and needed to be reminded by one of His angels? Can God forget? Isn’t He all knowing? Obviously the Biblical term "remember" means something quite different. Indeed, the best interpretation would be "to respond to and work in a situation or person" (in this case, all those in the Ark).

Conversely, the Biblical meaning of "remember no more" would be "to not respond to and work in a situation or person". So, when the Bible says God remembers our sin no more it means that He does not respond to our sin and work in our lives as we deserve. By His grace we are completely forgiven and do not need to live in shame and separation from Him. He knows all about our past sins, but if we ask His forgiveness through Jesus Christ with real repentance, He casts away ("as far as the east is from the west." Psalm 103:12) the present alienation, shame and guilt that sin brought to us.

That's good news!


To forgive and forget is what we are told,
Cause God does that, I guess He is old!
Though He knows all things can He forget them too?
How very convenient for me and for you.

It's amazing He forgets the sins of His saints,
Even though His Word records their complaints.
So, if ever God was to read His own word,
He'd suddenly remember, Oh my! That's absurd!


"Dear Lord. Thank you that if I confess my sins you are faithful and just to forgive me my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Though you do not forget my sins you do not treat me as my sins demand as Christ has taken all the punishment of death and separation. Praise You Lord for this wonderful news and help me to embrace fully your glorious forgiveness. Amen!"

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