Completely Forgiven and Truly Forgotten
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 38:17b But You have lovingly delivered my [King Hezekiah’s] soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.
Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
This is one of the most straightforward concepts in Scripture, and one of the hardest to understand and apply to our lives. And there are two parts to it.
One is that, as we repent, God removes our sins so far away from us that they can’t touch us anymore. “As far as the east is from the west” indicates a distance as far as we can imagine, and then some. Casting our sins “into the depths of the sea” says the same thing vertically as Ps. 103 says laterally. When forgiven, our sins are separated from us, cut off from us, and removed too far away from us to come back.
Closely related to that is the idea of God “forgetting” our sin. To be more specific, God says that He won’t “remember” our sins. “Remember” in the Bible has a broader, stronger meaning than our word. It doesn’t refer to God bringing something to mind that He “forgot” intellectually. It means that God moves on someone or something in alignment with either what they’ve done, or what He has promised. In the case of our sin, God not “remembering” means that He doesn’t associate that sin with us anymore, and His actions toward us reflect that.
Think of what that means. It means He doesn’t hold those sins against us anymore. It means, since they are gone, that He doesn’t bring them up again. (It’s the enemy of our souls that is so good at that.) It also means that His love, His mercy, and His grace are poured out on us just as if we hadn’t sinned.
How can we possibly conceive of all this, much less understand what it means to us? Try this: Imagine that a friend has sinned and hurt you. What if they had never done that? How many, many things would be different! There would be no anger, no regret, no pain, no broken relationship, no acting differently.
That’s exactly how God is able to see us and connect with us. He, unlike us, is able to put the forgiven sin so far from us as to be able to relate to us as if it had never occurred. In terms of relationship, God is able to forget our sin when it’s brought to the cross. We’ll never understand it, but may we appreciate and rejoice in it!
Prayer: Lord, I rejoice in Your word even as it challenges me on so many levels. Thank You for no longer remembering my sin once it’s forgiven. Help me to see the grace and power behind that reality, and help me be more like You with others in that same way.