One of God’s most important qualities – especially for sinners like us – is His forgetfulness. Where would we be if God were not a forgetful God? But before I go further, let me explain a distinction between how God forgets and how we forget.
We use the word forget to refer to something we lose track of unintentionally. That is, when we forget something, we normally don’t mean to! Some unfortunate things that we typically forget may include our spouse’s birthday, our password, our keys, our coffee (terribly tragic), and so on. We don’t desire to forget any of those things, but we do because of our lack of capacity to remember.
God, on the other hand, only forgets when He intends to. This is because His capacity to remember is infinite. He can’t forget anything! That is, of course, unless He means to.
So if God can only forget on purpose, what does He forget? Consider the following three verses:
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
“None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.”
The only thing that God willfully forgets is sin. But how does He actually do that? If His capacity to remember is infinite and infallible, how can He make something disappear from it?
Understand that He doesn’t just magically wish your sins away and they disappear. Instead, He “remembered” your sins on Christ, and as a result He “remembers” Christ’s righteousness on you! Do you realize how costly that was to Him? Do you know how much it hurt God to forgive you? It was infinitely costly for God to forget your sins. You are indebted to Christ for what He has done on your behalf, but He doesn’t require you to pay. That’s the point of the Gospel: that Christ has done it all so that you can have it all even though you’ve done nothing. Only an experience of that kind of extravagant grace can propel humans to live the kind of life that God requires of us. It has to be a life of gratitude, not a life of duty.
So how, dear reader, in light of this Gospel, can you store up grudges and bitterness toward others? Instead, may you forgive as you have been forgiven, even though it is exceedingly painful to forgive. Teach others about the love God has shown you by remembering their sins no more.
May you know and then model the same kind of forgetfulness as our gracious God!