Q&A: Forgive and Forget

Forgive and Forget

Question

The Scripture states, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more" (Is. 43:25). How can God forget sins when He is omniscient (knows all)?

Answer

God knows everything and cannot forget anything (Ps. 147:4-5; Is. 46:10; Matt. 11:21-23; Acts 15:18, etc.). However, in this verse God uses language to say that just as something may be forgotten, he will never bring that something up again. In other words, it is as if God did not know of it as he chooses never to bring it up again. It is there but blotted out! Example: Remember Wite-Out from when we used to type letters? If we made an error we could apply this white liquid over it to cover up the mistake and then retype over the covered error. The original imprint of the original error is still on the paper, but it's overwritten and it appears as if it had never been there. In essence, God "wite-outs" his children's sins and types Jesus' righteousness over their errors. God does this so he doesn't need to judge us for those sins over and over again even though it's our due justice.

Why does he do this? Because his people have been forgiven in his Son Jesus, and our sins have been laid upon Him. When you read Hebrews 11, you will see a list of many heroes of faith: Abraham, Moses, David, etc. However, even though each of them was a sinner (Rom. 3:23), none of their sins are listed. Why? Because God has forgiven them and judged their sins in Christ. In essence, he doesn't remember their sins any more.

In the church, we can miss many opportunities to minister to others because we so often remember sins. We should remember the example of Wite-Out.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).