Not Remembering Is Better Than Forgetting

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“It seems the older I get the harder it is to remember.”  This would be an unusual statement, except it comes from my 24 year old brother.  Even worse was my response to him, “just wait until you get to thirty!”  It is true though, the older you get the harder it is to remember and the more we tend to forget.  I have an untested theory on this, kinda like how it seems that days get shorter and shorter and time flies by as you get older, its all has to do with proportions.  A 5 year old has lived 1825 days, where as a 30 year old has lived 10,680 days and a 75 year old has lived 27,375 days, its all about the ratio.  A day in the life of a 5 year old is still a big deal, they have only had 1825 of them, by the time you’re 30 its just another day among 10,000ish, and when your are 75 another day is, “well it’s… wait, what’s today?”.  Life is gets increasingly more chaotic as you grow older.  You have to deal with more and more and ever increasingly have to decide what you are going to deal with at all.  We find if easier to forget things because there just is too much going on to deal with everything so we tend to forget.   One of my missional community leaders has a 95 year old, godly mother-in-law.  His favorite saying about her is, “she has forgotten more about scripture than I will ever know.”

But does God forget?  Can God forget?

In a bible study I wrote for our missional communities, I listed some scripture and asked the question, “What does God do with our sin?”  In a footnote to my leaders I said, “please resist saying that God forgets our sin.”  One of my leaders wrote me an email asking me to explain why we don’t say God forget our sin.  Here is the short answer.

Sin is Not Lost in the Chaos

With all that we have going on we can get lost and forget.  Think about all the tools we have to remind ourselves of what we have going on.  Some people keep note cards in their pockets, calendars, post-it notes, even our phones tell us when something is going on or reminds us to pick up something from the grocery store.  If God is omniscience, knowing all things, He cannot forget.  God knows the past, present, and future.  It would be a mistake to say He forgets.

There isn’t so much going on that God has to try keep up with everything and some of it just gets lost in the chaos.

Let me let you in on a little secret every pastor wants to tell his congregation.  Please, please, pretty please, if you have something important to tell me, don’t tell me before service, I have so much going on in my head before service I just can’t remember what you tell me.  And don’t tell me as you are leaving, cause everyone else is going to tell me something, it will get lost in the chaos.  If this were the case for God, our prayers would be foolish.

Sin is Important to God

I admit, it is so hard to keep up with everything people tell me, especially if it isn’t important to me.  Cars have never really been my thing.  I really just don’t care that that 703XWE has a 304 in it and can do zero to a hundred and infinity in 3.459 seconds.  First, I have no idea what any of that means.  Second, where can you go a hundred and infinity?  If you tell me something about a car other than it has gas and its ready to go, I will forget it, because it doesn’t matter to me.  However, there are things in my life that I desperately want to know.

Our sin killed His Son Jesus, God isn’t going to forget that.

Sin matters to God, it’s important.  Too often we are told to “forgive and forget.”  There are things that are done to people that are so terrible they will never forget (murder, rape, divorce, betrayal…), however they can forgive.  Our sin killed God’s son, He isn’t going to forget that, but He does forgive and separates the penalty of sin from us.

God Has Dealt with Our Sin

We do all sorts of things to remind us of things going on in our life so we don’t forget, and we still forget.  We even forget the good, fun moments in our lives.  We have all been sharing stories when someones says, “remember when…?” and we answer, “Oh my!  I completely forgot about that.  We have to be reminded of what we forget.  If God can forget our sins, how about my next sin would remind him of all my other sins.  Or if God forgets sins, He has to be very forgetful God.  No, instead of forgetting our sins, God deals with our sin.

Psalm 103:12  as far as the east is from the west,  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Isaiah 38:17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

Jeremiah 31:34  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘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.”

Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

What does God do with our sins

  • God removes them from us and separates us from our sin in 2 different directions so that we are never associated with them again

  • God ties them to concrete blocks and throws them into the sea, so our sins are dead and no longer attached to us

  • God puts our sins behind His back, He puts Himself between our sin and us

  • God remembers our sin no more, He doesn’t forget them, he just doesn’t bring them back up to be held against us

Our God does not forget our sins.  He has dealt with our sin with Jesus’ work on the Cross.  Let this be reassuring to you and embolden your faith in Christ.  If God just forgot our sin it only makes sense that God could be reminded of our sin.  But God chose to deal with our sin and separate its consequences from us.  Think about the movie lines,  “To get to him, you have to go through me!” or “Over my dead body!”  This is exactly what Christ has done with our sin and the consequence of death.  God is saying, death, if you want them, if you want those that belong to me, you will have to go through me.  Jesus looked death right in the face and said, over my dead body.

God not remembering our sin is way better than a forgetful god.

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014