I keep driving by a local church that has one of those silly sayings on their church sign. Even though I’ve read it about five times now I still can’t quite remember it word for word, but the gist of the message is that God forgets our sins. This also reminds me of a certain Krystal Meyers song called “Beauty of Grace”. While it is a catchy little tune, there is one line in the song that says “the mistakes you’ve made…forgiven, the memories erased.” Without much serious study on the subject, I’m going to go ahead and say that this is a bit of stretch and maybe even an abuse of Scripture.
This subject is not really new to me because I remember being taught in Sunday School the same concept. When I was younger I was taught that God forgets our sins. We often hold on to our own sins, but God forgets them. So according to this Sunday school teacher, when we go to God with a sin we’ve already committed and God has already forgiven, we might say “God forgive us of our sin” and God will say “What sin?” cause he doesn’t remember it. It’s erased, as if it never happened.
The Scripture verse this concept is coming from is found in Jeremiah 31:2434 which says “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Ok, so the Bible does actually say God forgives sin and remembers it no more. But does this really mean that the all-knowing God actually forgets? Or, does it mean that God no longer holds the sin against us? Does it mean that he makes the choice to no longer remember it as something that is held against us or does it actually get erased from his memory where He no longer remembers that we’ve ever sinned?
Again, without an extensive study on this verse or the concept, I’d have to say that common sense seems to point to the fact that the memory of sin isn’t actually erased from God’s memory, but is instead erased from the list of things that point to our guilt. If you think of it like a court case, sometimes evidence is thrown out. If evidence isn’t collected correctly or if it isn’t presented in a case using the correct procedures then the Judge can throw the evidence out. It doesn’t make the evidence cease to exist, it just can no longer be presented in the case against the defendant.
I guess I may be out on a limb here, but I fail to understand the reason to perpetuate false ideas. While it is true that “in a way” God sort of forgets by no longer holding the sin against us, in reality he doesn’t reformat his hard drive. Why can’t we just say it like it is?
I understand that the idea is to be able to say to someone, “God forgets your sins, so you shouldn’t feel guilty anymore” but I’m not sure if that is such good advice in the first place. First of all God doesn’t forget, he forgives and in the same way we will never forget. Certainly we should rejoice in God’s forgiveness and we shouldn’t be crushed by the guilt of forgiven sin, but it should be something we never forget.
I say all of that to say the sign in town bothers me and so does Krystal Myers song.