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Can God Forget?

“Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

What does it mean that God remembers our sins and iniquities no more? Does it mean that our all-knowing God can actually forget what we have done? No: if God forgot anything, He would cease to be God! The phrase “remember no more” means “hold against us no more.” God recalls what we have done, but He does not hold it against us. He deals with us on the basis of grace and mercy, not law and merit. Once sin has been forgiven, it is never brought before us again. The matter is settled eternally.

As a pastor, I have often heard people say, “Well, I can forgive—but I cannot forget!” “Of course you can’t forget,” I usually reply. “The more you try to put this thing out of your mind, the more you will remember it. But that isn’t what it means to forget.” Then I go on to explain that “to forget” means “to not hold it against the person who wronged us.” We may remember what others have done, but we are called to forgive them and treat them as though they never did it.

How is this possible? It is possible because of the cross, for there God treated His perfect, sinless Son as though He had done it! Our experience of forgiveness from God makes it possible for us to forgive others.

—From Be Confident by Warren W. Wiersbe.