Does God have a bit of a memory problem?
It would appear so, according to the Bible.
Several Scriptures tell us that when God forgives our sins, he also forgets them.
Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God blots out our transgressions and remembers our sin no more.
Hebrews 8:12 echoes this: “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
But if God’s memory of the sinful things we did is wiped clean, why isn’t ours?
Why didn’t He arrange it so that we can’t remember our shameful deeds, either?
I’m sure many of us would love to have amnesia about our moral failures, but God knows that this isn’t best for us.
I think there are several reasons for this:
One reason we don’t forget our sins is so that we’ll remember what we’ve been saved from. Another is so that we’ll remain humble and grateful for our salvation, which will encourage us to want to please God.
Let me give you an analogy:
Let’s assume that, as a child, I was visiting your house with my parents. And let’s say that while you were busy in the kitchen, I carelessly broke an expensive possession of yours, such as a vase.
But then let’s imagine that my Dad dashed out and bought an identical one as a replacement. He swept up and hid the broken fragments of the original vase, and put the perfect one in its place. All before you even came back in the room and knew there was a problem.
You would have no memory of any wrongdoing on my part, but I would. I would be eternally grateful to my Dad for having rescued me. His actions would have spared me from any censure for my carelessness.
My memory of what he did to save my hide would change my character, too. I would become more humble, because I’d know that your good opinion of me had nothing to do with my behaviour, and everything to do with my Dad’s substitution of the vase.
From then on, every time I went to your house, I’d remember the time I broke your vase. I’d be thankful that, because of my Dad’s actions, I could spend time with you without you holding anything against me. Our friendship wouldn’t be marred by the “vase incident.” (I’d also remember to be a lot more careful around vases!)
Isn’t this a picture of what Jesus has done for us?
He covered up our sins through His atoning death on the Cross. As a result, we can be restored to fellowship with our Heavenly Father. When God looks at us now, He doesn’t see the broken pieces of what we’ve wrecked, only the perfection and wholeness of His Son. Thanks to Jesus, our sins no longer have the power to mar our relationship with God.
I love the image described in Isaiah 38:17, of God casting our sins behind His back:
“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”
Other translations use the verbs “thrown” or “hurled,” instead of “put.” I like this picture of God contemptuously chucking our sins over His shoulder, like worthless pieces of trash never to be thought of again.
There may come a time when God does remove the memories of our sins from our minds. Perhaps in Heaven all those bad memories will be wiped away forever.
But until then, we need to remember what we’ve done wrong so that we can be grateful for what Jesus did right.
Let’s thank God that, when it comes to our sins, He is forgetful, but we’re not.
© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.