The Forgetfulness of God

By: Dr Eliezer Gonzalez

When people think about God, they tend to think about a being who can do everything. But did you know that there is one thing that God can never, ever do?

The one thing that God cannot do is remember your sins once he has forgiven you. He has promised this many times in the Bible. Here is an example:

I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more
 (Isa 43:25, NIV; Also e.g. Heb 8:12).

However, in our daily lives, we face two challenges. The first one is that we find it hard to believe that God doesn’t remember our sins.

We find it so natural to remember the sins of others. And other people remember our sins also.

It’s a common situation: you do something wrong, your spouse says they forgive you, and then you are continually reminded of it every time your spouse gets annoyed at you. And we tend to think that God is like that too, that somehow he has a big record book in heaven of all your sins that have been supposedly forgiven, and that when you stuff up again in the future, God will wheel out all your sins again.

But God exhausts the limits of human language to assure you that that will never happen with him. He says,

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us
 (Ps 103:11-12, NIV).

Thank God for his forgetfulness, for he has forgotten our sins.

The other challenge we have, and this can be an even greater one, is that even though we know that God does not remember our sins, we ourselves certainly never forget. We continue to condemn ourselves even though God doesn’t.

In this sense, it’s true that often the person we most need to forgive is ourselves. This is another way of saying that we need to accept that God has already forgiven us. Sometimes we may remember our sins and their shame. It’s then that we need to remember God’s love and claim again his promises to us.

Of course, God remembers everything, always. It is impossible for God to ever forget anything. However he wants to assure us of his complete forgiveness so passionately that he stretches the possibilities of human language to make the point. Charles Spurgeon said,

[W]hen the Lord says, “I will not remember their sins,” what does it mean but this— that he will not treat us any the less generously on account of our having been great sinners. You that have been the chief of sinners, he will not put you in the second class of Christians, and treat you with a sort of second-rate love. He will not even remember that you have sinned, but treat you as if you had been perfectly innocent, and were totally clear from all iniquity. 

If you have accepted his invitation of salvation, you can forever rely on the forgetfulness of God.

Thank God for his forgetfulness, for he has forgotten our sins.

Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.

About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.