As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psa 103:12)
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb 8:12)
How can God not remember our sins anymore? Obviously, since God is omniscient (all-knowing), He does not just struggle to remember things like we do. He does not need to keep “to-do” lists so that He doesn’t forget to pick up that item at the grocery store. He doesn’t forget someone’s name. He doesn’t forget what He did yesterday. So what do these verses really mean?
I think that God doesn’t hold us accountable for our sins anymore. When we are baptized into Christ Jesus (not water baptism, but born again into the Body of Christ), we take on His identity. Jesus Christ was the only sinless person to ever live. When He died on the cross, He took on the guilt of our sins so that we can take on His righteousness through faith. So, when God looks at the account of the believer, He sees the sinless record of Christ Jesus instead of the sinful account of the old man.
So, if God forgets our sins then why can’t we?
One argument against Christianity is that it is too easy to just believe and be saved. Someone can infer that one can sin all they want to and then just believe and be saved (i.e. salvation without consequences). While I can understand that point on the surface, I know that it is not just that simple in the experience of the believer (while perhaps it actually should be!). As someone who has been forgiven much, I struggle with the pain of remembering my past life. My old man and enemy remind and tempt me with those things that once promised “pleasure”. Now I have to fight the battle to cast those memories onto Christ, who has made me a new creature. My history is Christ’s history, not the old Andy’s. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1). Perhaps that fact is easier to read and quote than it is to walk it out.
A brother in Christ recently marveled at the Apostle Paul’s statement about having “wronged no man” (see 2Co 7:2). In context, Paul is speaking about his actions as a minister of the Gospel. However, one could look at Paul’s past and accuse him of falsehood in such a statement. Paul (once more widely known as Saul) was a great persecutor of Christians and held the coats of others as Stephen was stoned for his faith in Christ (see Acts 7:58 and 22:20). I believe that Paul could make that statement because he understood who he was in Christ. Being a new creature, he had wronged no man according to God’s record. What an amazing truth that, if we grabbed a hold of it for ourselves, would enable us to walk in freedom from the guilt of our past.
Let us march on in the freedom of God’s forgetfulness.