Does God Really Forget Our Sins?Recently an on-line acquaintance brought to my attention a portion of a sermon that he felt had real promise. He asked an open question of all in the group regarding ideas as to how the material might be fleshed out to make it into a finer sermon. Here is the what he quoted:
You see, every demon in hell can drag up our past, but it is to no avail. Every hound of hell can attack us, and create havoc in our present, but it is to no avail.
For, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, has saved us in spite of our past, secured us in spite of our present; and, settled us in spite of our future.Now I had several thoughts about the above text. I liked the initial sentence and the first sentence after the 4 points. As to the last sentence, I believe he should have added, "A redemption that has secured our future". And, I was unable to locate any specific Psalm that says anything remotely like what was quoted in the text.
As to the four points, I felt the concept the pastor was attempting to encapsulate was excellent, but his similes lacked cohesion. They made no sense. Hiding something has no effect on height; relative position has no effect on width, etc. But one of the points stirred a bit of discomfort in my mind. Point 3 which says, "They have no depth because they have been placed in the sea of God's forgetfulness." God's forgetfulness, hmmm. Does God really forget our sins?
I've heard pastors and laymen, on occasion, making claims that God actually forgets the sins of those who have been saved. However, if He were to do so, He would be violating immutable attributes of Deity. His Omnificence1, which is defined in part as, "God's power is limited only by His nature, that is, He cannot do something that would contradict His nature or essence as God." The nature or essence that would be violated by forgetting anything would be His Omniscience2. God has complete and perfect knowledge of all things, including Himself and everything actual or potential in His creation, unlike human beings and the rest of creation which experience reality as past, present, and future.
The verses that are cited as the proof text for His forgetfulness are as follows:
Heb 8:12So, how are we to rightly understand the above verses? We know for certain that those who believe the Gospel message and place their faith in Christ and the atonement for sin provided through HIs suffering and death, will have their sins forgiven. I've heard some say that to be Godlike, we must learn to forgive and forget as He does. When someone sins against us and this expression is used, do we really forget the sin or is this just a figure of speech?
In common English parlance, saying that you will forget or not remember something is somewhat of a misnomer. The word "forget" is an antonym for of the word "remember". However, the word "remember" has many possible synonyms that may serve as the underlying meaning when it is used in a sentence. To be a proper antonym, the word "forget" must also encompass a much broader spectrum of meaning. Neither word can be rightly understood in all circumstances by a wooden, literal interpretation.
Here is a list of synonyms from Thesaurus.com
"remember":I perused the Bible for other occurrences of the word remember and paid special attention to those that involve God. Here is a typical example:
Gen 9:14-15 "And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.In this example, a literal understanding of the word "remember" in verse 15 would possibly be to "keep in mind" or "commemorate", not remember something that God had actually forgotten.
With a better understanding of the fuller meaning that underlies the word "remember", and keeping in mind God's immutable attributes, the two verses in Hebrews must have a very different meaning. I searched for another Bible translation that renders a clearer thought-for-thought translation and found that the God's Word Translation best served the purpose. .
Heb. 8:12As you can see in this translation, there is no mention of actually forgetting or remembering, only a decision not to "hold their sins against them". With this in mind, a better rendering of the KJV would be "their sins and their iniquities will I remember (against them) no more". They ARE remembered but, not to the detriment of the sinner.
Isa 53:4-5Jesus paid the price for our sins so there is no longer any need to fear for those of us who have accepted His saving Gospel message. We sinned, God knows we sinned, but, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus, we are no longer held accountable. When we stand before the Father and He opens the book on our life, there will be a note, written in blood, from His Son saying, "Father, forgive, the debt has been paid in full!"
Author: John M. Fritzius
1 Omnificence - abridged definition - Source: The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words by Terry L. Miethe
2 Omniscience - abridged definition - Source: The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words by Terry L. Miethe
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