"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
The Spiritual Urban Legend that we must "Forgive and Forget" is potentially very dangerous. It is not merely a small, innocent mistake of interpretation and understanding. It can cause huge problems in our relationships with God and others.
Firstly, believing we must forgive and forget is dangerous because it is IMPOSSIBLE with the big hurts in our life. Larry Osborne says, "Sure, we can and should forget the little things; the social slights, the unkind word, the fool who jumps our parking space. But when it comes to the true hurts and injustices of life, most of us are keenly aware that self-induced amnesia isn’t in the cards."
How many of you have heard a preacher say that God has turned His back on your repented sins after having tossed them into a deep ocean and then put a sign of "no fishing" there? What they mean by this is that God has forgotten about and covered all your (and others) repented sins and so must you. Don’t go back fishing for their memories and dig up the past. That kind of thinking is all well and good for small hurts and sins of the past. However, some hurts are so huge that they are like icebergs with tips sticking out of the ocean of forgetfulness!
The problem here is that such thinking can cause us to give up seeking forgiveness for the big sins and big hurts of the past. We try and bury them deep in our sub-consciousness but they keep resurrecting to haunt us. We end up paying lip service that we have forgiven those who hurt us so badly, or we have been forgiven for the huge sins we committed long ago, but because we have not fully forgotten them we feel that true forgiveness is out of our reach!
Hence, many Christian walk around with unneeded guilt due to a faulty spiritual urban legend. The truth is that God does not want us to forget really painful memories that have caused much hurt. He wants to heal those memories. To forgive others is not to forget what they have done to us but it is to relinquish our right to hurt back, to give that person a second chance and receive healing of past memories, so when we think of those events all we think of is what our glorious saviour has done to heal and restore us.
He has taken the separating barrier of our past sins away, as far as the east is from the west. When we have fully repented of past sins God can well remember those sins but knows that our repentance has restored our relationship with Him. So, as we remember our past sins and hurts we can rejoice that He has healed those memories and see how great is His love and forgiveness!
Trying to forgive and forget can cause us to quit,
As we try to throw the big sins in the pit.
To our dismay they are too big to fit,
So we hide them and just let them sit.
True healing comes when we let Him shine the light
Revealing those sins in their depths and their height.
Then seeing His cross is deeper and wider than these
We ask for true forgiveness and fall to our knees.
"Thank you Father that your grace is sufficient. No matter how great my sins of the past you forgive them fully and restore me to full relationship with You. Though you and I can still remember those sins we know that they are forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ. A painful, hurtful memory can now be transformed into a time of deep gratitude of where we have come from - looking from the mountain top into a valley of past sin and marvelling at the deliverance. Amen!"